As famous playwright William Shakespeare once wrote in Sonnet XVIII, “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date,” and many people would be very inclined to agree with his words when it comes to summer vacations. There is most likely not a person who went to school in the United States of America who didn’t spend part of that time in school counting down the days until the next break from school.
While breaks from school are fun and a very nice respite and relief the education system, are these breaks really all that good for students?
The Center for Public Education (CPE) conducted a study in December of 2011 looking at the time spent by students in schools all over the world. In the United States, most states require between around 180 days of school time or about 1,000 hours of instructional time per school year.
This might seem like it is a lot of time, however, according to that same study done by the CPE other countries such as China and India may have their students go to school for more days out of an academic year than American students just for fewer hours of instruction.
Still, for students in the United States that is about 1,000 hours of instruction every year of their lives from kindergarten until they graduate from high school and then still more if those students attend a university and any schooling after obtaining a bachelor’s degree.
After hearing that it does seem like school breaks and vacations are more important since students are completely fried from taking in all the information and doing all the work that is assigned to them by their instructors.
But it is difficult to come back from a break. During a break a student gets settled into a more relaxed and less stressful state of being over the course of a week or more and then has to be able to forcibly eject themselves from that mindset and hit the ground sprinting to make sure that any work they need to do is done and everything from a course they need to have absorbed into their brains is locked in there for the exams.
Students lose an average of one month of school instruction every summer effectively making them unprepared for the beginning of the next school year. This seems like it makes the case in favor for year-round schooling with shorter breaks for students so that they can retain the information they learn in the classroom.
However, breaks from school are beneficial to students in other ways. Schools and the education system allow students to gain knowledge that is useful in their continued academic career and in various workplace environments in the student’s adult life. This does not mean this is the only kind of knowledge that a person will need in their life.
It typically is not through the quirky adventures often shown in coming of age movies and young adult novels but, when students are not in school they are learning about the world and their place in it just by living their lives. They do not have instructors and adults watching them like hawks and telling them what is the right and wrong answer to a question. They have to figure it out and learn from the outcomes.
The case could be made and is very strong that it is during these breaks and vacations from the education system that students actually learn the most and grow as people.
Carlee Jo Blumenthal