Oh great. Here’s an idea for school reform so bad it’s bound to prevail. Get rid of summer vacation. Yup. There’s a winner in the anti-fun, make-life-dismal sweepstakes. Coming soon to a faculty of education near you.
Monday’s Globe and Mail says more than two million U.S. students already attend schools with a year-round calendar, a.k.a. “balanced” or “modified,” in which instead of getting most of their vacation in one big happy summery chunk, they get it in monotonous dribs and drabs throughout the year. Thus far it’s only been adopted in a few schools in B.C., Alberta and Ontario. But just you wait. The Globe quoted the head of the department of educational studies (a bad start, folks) at UBC, “I always say, ‘We’ve got a 150-year-old compromise.’ Everything else in society has changed. Maybe it’s time to change the school calendar. People are nervous because they don’t know anything else.” Well, I always say, “I don’t fear change; I fear stupidity.” If we had real school choice there wouldn’t be just one calendar but since we don’t, we should fight this idea.
The esteemed educationist is right about the compromise; the reason we have long summer vacations is the government wanted to put kids in school all the time and parents wanted them around to help on the farm and they split the difference. And it’s true that most people no longer need their kids pitching hay into the barn on a July day (although seeing pale rickety kids lurking endlessly in the basement playing video games, I could hand them a pitchfork). But “everything else in society” hasn’t changed; Aristotle’s advice to “Bring your desires down to your present means; increase them only when your increased means permit” has paradoxically become more true as we have grown richer and more indebted. (And money still can’t buy happiness, but people won’t stop trying.) Continue Reading →
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