Woo Hoo! School is over and now the fun can begin!
Such is the message we send students all across the country this time of year. Because of how our system works (school is in session for anywhere from 9-10 months and then it ends) we send a very negative message to our students about what education is. We tell students that school and education are something that can and does in fact end. School is something to get through so you can move on to better things.
What are students and, for that matter, you like at the end of the year? They don’t want to do much because the year is almost over and we don’t want to start a new unit (I hate the term unit in regards of teaching) because there isn’t enough time to finish before the school year ends. Or even worse, now that the AP test is over, there is nothing else to work towards. Excepting of course our summer reading, and we all know how well that works… If we think that school can end, then how can we make students life long learners?
Learning is something that should be happening all the time, not just in the unnatural constructs of our “school year.” But the structure we have created has become our reality. In Freshman year you learn some things and then that year ends and you magically become a Sophomore. In Sophomore year you learn some more things and then you magically become a Junior and so on…
Education, true education anyway, is, or at least should be, continuous throughout life. But we have made it yet another wrung in the ladder of life leading to who knows where.
I am a proponent of year round school.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that students, and teachers, need a break. We all need and benefit from a respite from the hard work that learning is, but by structuring our schools the way we do, we are telling our charges that education is something to get through, not learn from.
Instead of months off in the summer, lets have extended/added breaks throughout the year. Lets get rid of fruitless class levels and make learning about the student and what they need when they need it.
Lets make learning authentic.