Are Longer School Days Really Needed?
5 months ago
Adding more time to the academic day could be too much of a bad thing.
As part of a pilot program pushed by the U.S. Education Department, school districts in five states will make their school days longer in an attempt to help kids learn more.
CBS News reported:
Spending more time in the classroom, education officials said, will give students access to a more well-rounded curriculum that includes arts and music, individualized help for students who fall behind and opportunities to reinforce critical math and science skills. Education Secretary Arne Duncan added in a statement that it will give educators more time to teach children other things like how to play an instrument or computer coding skills.
The program will add a total of 300 hours to the school calendar which averages out to adding just under two hours to the typical eight-hour school day. Sounds good and if the three-year project turns out to be a success, we can expect the model to be duplicated throughout the rest of the country.
[Also Read: Loop 21's Education Special]
But unless schools make fundamental changes in how they operate and especially in their engagement of black children, who are most in need of educational reform, making the school day longer could be too much of a bad thing.
On the one hand, adding the two extra hours can be viewed as a way to replace afterschool programs that have been disappearing, which could be a welcome improvement. Afterschool programs have been for the most part voluntary, leaving it up to students and their parents to decide whether to participate and perhaps benefit educationally.
The extra time could also be time spent away from the television for U.S. school children, which could also be a good thing. According to a 2010 study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, American kids spend nearly 30 hours a week watching television. That's almost the equivalent of working a full-time job. And for young black kids, studies have found detrimental links between television watching and low-self esteem.
However, it's important to determine and monitor exactly how schools use the extra time. The idea of kids learning more because they are in school because they are in school longer sounds like a direct correlation, but not necessarily.