Changing the School Day

After reading the article, “Why Kids Need Schools to Change,” by Tina Barseghian from the NCTE website, I found myself stuck on where I stand as an educator and which philosophy of education works best for students. We are stuck between essentialism and perennialism and becoming a country that focuses on progressivism. Some educators, policy-makers etc. believe in the “core curriculum framework” while others believe that a child learns best when students take a particular interest to a subject.

In this article Madeline Levine, PhD and author of “Teach Your Children Well,” emphasizes her beliefs as an educator about how the structure of a typical school day is obsolete and needs to change. Children need change but parents, administrators, and principals are nervous to make drastic changes during an economic uncertainty. I understand why the higher positions would be cautious about taking big steps because if it does not work out, the problems that occur come back entirely on them. Madeline Levine believes that this is the time in which officials need to make huge changes, take risks because we have nothing to lose. Madeline, a former educator herself, goes on to talk about disconnection between what we know as educators and what is actually being practiced inside the classroom. There is a huge road block with using technology in the classroom. Some schools are using computers from 2000, and Microsoft 98′. Other schools have changed their entire lessons and put them onto iPad’s. The biggest problem we face here is budget and that is why changes have not been made.

Madeline states, “the biggest impact you’ll have as a teacher is the relationship you establish with your student.” I could not agree with her more! I have had some unbelievable teachers that not only pushed me inside of the classroom but truly cared about my well-being. Whether the school I attended was a poorly funded school or was a private catholic school, I have truly connected with some of the world’s greatest teachers, I believe.

In the article there are points that Madeline made that I do not agree with at all. She says that the school day should start later. What are parents going to do? They have to go to work. So will the work day start later as well? Will school systems provide FREE early morning day-care for parents? It is a good idea so that children can get more rest, but it is not an ideal situation for most families. Madeline also says that in between class times would be longer allowing children to say hi to friends and plan their next moves. This is simply asking for trouble. Children with too much free time tend to get themselves into trouble. I absolutely believe in free time and allowing children to explore and create, but in the hallways between classes is not the time or place.

Madeline also states that there are five key factors that should be incorporated into the classroom; project based learning, alternative assessment, scheduling, climate of care, and parent education. I believe in all of these, and most of them can be a part of an everyday lesson plan. The most important one is parent education. If parents are helpful during their child’s education process, then the child also feels proud. If a child is continuously not doing homework, it is not only the child’s fault, but the parents as well. Parents need to start taking responsibility for their child’s actions.

Sarah Lynch

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Changing the School Day

  1. jorgegarciae

    Thanks for the article Sarah. Let me center my comment around the following: “If a child is continuously not doing homework, it is not only the child’s fault, but the parents as well. Parents need to start taking responsibility for their child’s actions.”:
    I agree that Parents share some responsibility for the student’s education, but feel it necessary to quibble clear slightly. Earlier in your post you discuss the problems which adjusting the school schedule might have for working parents. I think the impact of work is relevant here as well. Working class parents are likelier to be working odd hours, longer hours, or both. They are likelier to be too tired to help or follow up on homework, and are likelier to not have the tools/knowledge to help with the homework.
    I think as teachers there’s a few things we can do to help with this:
    Communicate with parents frequently, and listen to what they tell us.
    Have homework be actually relevant to the overall goal of the course. Far too often homework seems to function as busywork.
    Finally, community education and outreach initiatives can help with this too. We can as teachers push for funding such initiatives and direct parents to their existence. I think the vast majority of Parents want to help their kids, our role as teachers it to make that easier for them.

  2. christina2011

    I agree with Jorge about parents’ work schedules. Though I also feel that parents should share responsibility for their child’s education, I also realize that have incredibly involved parents is rare and, in most cases, due to the fact that they need to work to support their children.

    When Levine says that the school day should start later, how much later does she mean? Some high schools begin at 7 am, while others don’t have first period until 8 or 8:30 am. School days ending at 3 also leaves parents with the same issue of who will be home for the child or – at the very least – pick the child up from school. I believe there needs to be a shift in school schedules and/or more transportation options available to students (i.e. buses that will drive students home when after-school activities are done).

  3. brittanygage4

    This article reminds me of my education class that I’m taking this semester. One of the main discussion we’ve been getting into is the role of the parent and their responsibility in their childs’ education. While I do believe that parents need to be throughly involved in the school system, I don’t think that they should compromise the stability of the family for it. If school started later then, like my classmates above me, I wonder how this would effect parents work life.

    I’m all for bettering the school system, but my thoughts were more focused on switching school days. For instance, I believe that high school students should start when elementary does, and vice versa. A plan like this might be better than just shifting the times entirely. That may be a better plan of action than causing an uproar over a total time change.

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