“Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.” --Haruki Murakami
- Get rid of incompetent teachers
- Students feel entitled and are lazy
- Schools don't motivate and promote learning
- It's the video games and media
- It's the unions
- It's the culture that doesn't value education
- Parents don't demand or expect kids to achieve
- It's all the testing.
Guess what? It's none of these. And, while some of the above are indeed factors of educational success, they are secondary--probably beyond tertiary--to the real issues facing education. So, let me arrogantly take on the first 'real' issue facing public education.
TIME FOR LEARNING.
First, the facts.
- School happens from 7:50 am to 1:52 pm, which is 6 hours and two minutes.
- Subtract lunch (30 minutes) and passing periods (15 minutes): now student contact time is under 5 hours, 30 minutes.
- Now subtract school photos, pep rallies, events, lockdown drills, fire drills, yearbook signing, shortened days, special guest speakers, testing days (6 school days a year alone), & etc.
The school day is six hours, taking up 1/4 of a day and half the waking hours. But wait, it only lasts 180 days in a year. Students will spend roughly 990 hours learning each year and roughly three times that long (2920 hours) sleeping. There are nearly 6 thousand waking hours per year.
In summary, the average student spends 16% of his or her waking hours learning and 84% of the time doing something else.
A working person, by comparison, works for roughly 32% of his or her waking hours.
That's not a huge deal; after all, education isn't and shouldn't be the end-all be-all of student learning. And, research show that it isn't. For wealthier families, education happens through enrichment activities in a wide swath of areas. My own kids take martial arts, swim, compete in soccer, play outside, draw, attend summer camps, go to museums, travel, use e-books, et al. That enrichment arguably creates greater achievement, which in turn generates more competent students, who then take advanced classes, which are filled with considerably (and 'considerably' is massive understatement) more homework and other enrichment. We have, then a virtuous cycle: more learning, built on more learning, built on more competence.
Of course, the opposite is true. The student who struggles doesn't get an after school tutor. His summer enrichment isn't enrichment [The Case Against Summer]. He loses competence during breaks and during the 84% of time that he isn't in school. He doesn't take advanced classes; as a result, his classes don't have much homework. He has free time though, most of which is media-immersed. He is among other disenfranchised, disinterested students. A virtuous cycle is a death spiral.
So, you want to solve the 'educational crisis'? It isn't a crisis. It's a gap in opportunity. A gaping wound.
Students, simply put, need more time to learn.