After slightly more than two months of holiday, allowing respite from the stresses and struggles of the classroom, our students in public schools have this week resumed classes, hopefully re-energised and rejuvenated to face the books.
Long school holidays help students clear their heads, relax a little and stretch their brains in different ways.
However, for decades, there has been a lot of debate among teachers, parents, and policymakers around the world, on how long a school break should be.
Traditionally, schooling schedules have long been based more on cultural patterns than on efficient education strategies. The holidays have been pegged in some places not because they work for education strategists, but because of the needs of society.
For instance, in Iceland it was traditionally timed to allow children to help out with harvest.
Other countries have long summer vacations because it is simply too hot to study. In other areas where religion plays an important role in the holiday season, the religion calendar then commands the break, so that students can have ample time to partake in the rituals and traditions of seasonal holidays.
This is the case with Italy and the Balkans where school children and teachers enjoy some of the longest summer holidays on the planet.
There are some obvious advantages to a vacation that lasts longer. Families who live a long distance from relatives are able to travel together, sometimes across the ocean, in order to connect with their loved ones.
Even if there is no visiting family far away, an extended holiday is a great opportunity for kids to interact with the community. From an educational standpoint, a child that is able to experience another culture can gain valuable language, history, and social skills.
Long school holidays can also be backed by citing the way in which schools have become overly academic and too exam focused in recent years, which requires a considerably longer holiday break from such a ‘marathon pumping of knowledge,’ and it makes great sense!
Great psychologists, like Freud and Piaget, have stressed play’s central role in the formation of fully-rounded individuals, so the long holiday achieves this by allowing students explore the world outside the confines of school. The students get to participate in activities that would be difficult to do during a regular school term.
Another conventional argument is that the extended term dates give parents ample time to move left and right in search of fees having spent relatively more during the festive December season.
However, with the changing dynamics of society, the policymakers should be forced to look not only at the local context but also the emerging influences that are today taking the world by storm.
With our today’s technologically overloaded students, one of the emerging concerns against a prolonged vacation is increased chances of deviation from constructive activities.
Critical academic skills need daily repetition which a modern parent may not be able to carry out at home due to rising demands of work. For example, students learning to read must practice these skills consistently or the teacher will have to reteach some of the concepts if they stay long before refreshing.
The same goes for foreign languages and mathematics facts. Even with a homework packet, some children may not have a home environment that encourages learning.
Unlike before, a long study break is more likely to cause students to forget what they have been learning. With the movies and video games, they slip away from study habits and become languid from so much time not working.
This is more damaging especially to students who need the extra support that they cannot find outside school; where there are people trained to help them, and can concentrate well in an environment designed for studying.
Some researchers have argued that children from low-income families suffer a dip in academic attainment as a result of the long holiday which leads to a widening of the attainment gap.
They also show that middle-class children actually benefit academically from longer holidays; they read more, go to the library, go on enriching trips and come back better able to learn than before.
Former United Kingdom’s Government adviser Frank Field backed this by suggesting that their summer holidays for schools should be shortened. He argued that disadvantaged children who do not receive enough support at home cannot catch up after such a long break.
Evidently, children with access to high-quality experiences keep exercising their minds and bodies in museums, libraries and remedial classes. Meanwhile, children without resources languish in front of glowing screens for the whole of the holiday season.
Consequently, long school holiday can be either constructive or destructive to our students!
Give Students a Break
- Length: 623 words (1.8 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
Give Students a Break
Students at Tech, and indeed at most colleges, eagerly anticipate holidays because they provide a welcome break from classes. Although some may say that breaks only take away valuable class time from students, they fail to see the educational benefits that breaks afford. Tech's sparse holiday offerings take little advantage of these benefits. Tech is harming students, who could greatly benefit from the time breaks offer for relaxation, family interaction, and studying.
Despite criticism, breaks do not necessarily have to adversely affect students' education by taking away important class time. There are many ways Tech could integrate breaks into its semester schedules without loosing any class time at all. For instance, classes could begin a few days early or end a few days late, allowing breaks to be added into the semesters. Alternatively, Tech could shorten its overly-long twenty-eight day Christmas break and use those days for breaks during the semesters. Careful planning of the breaks already offered would even help. During the fall semester, Tech currently offers one of its five breaks less than a week after classes begin and three more of its breaks less than three weeks before Christmas break begins. This poor scheduling leaves large gaps during the semester with no breaks at all.
Why, though, are breaks important from an educational standpoint? One reason is that they lightens students' stress loads. College is stressful enough with breaks; without them, students have no way to recuperate from the stress of classes. During Montana Tech's fall semester, there are over two months of straight classes that contain no breaks at all. During the spring semester, there are two more large gaps between breaks, one of which is also over two months long. Although weekends do help, these are often used for studying and homework and do little to ease the students' stress. Many students begin to dislike their classes because of the stress they cause, and as a result, some put less effort into their studying. Breaks allow students some time off from their classes to relax so that they can come back refreshed.
Another reason breaks are important is that they give students time to spend with their families. It is very important to develop social skills during college and, it is also important to become more independent. Both of these will aid the student when starting a new life after graduation. But family relationships are still very important for students.
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Break Breaks Educational Benefits Semester Tech Gaps Ease Loosing Scheduling Months
Holidays are the perfect time to spend with family since many family members get time off from their jobs and can spend this time with family members who are students.
Another important benefit that breaks provide students is extra time for homework and studying. This is one of the most evident educational benefits breaks offer. Students can still use part of the breaks for relaxation and family, but they can also set aside time for studying. With no pressing deadlines imposed on their studying schedules, students can spend time in areas that need improvement without worrying about falling behind in areas in which they are already proficient. They can also use this time to catch up on homework that they have had to put off because of time constraints. This extra studying time offered by breaks can prove very beneficial to students' educational progress because they can put more work into their classes than would otherwise be possible.
Because all of these educational benefits are important for the learning experiences of students, Montana Tech should revise its scheduling to integrate more breaks into each semester and should evenly distribute them throughout the semesters. Instead of hindering its educational effectiveness, Montana Tech should provide students with the benefit of breaks to enhance their learning experiences.