Comments about ‘Learning takes time: Growing movement seeks to expand length of school day’

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Published: Sunday, May 5 2013 3:30 p.m. MDT

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Oatmeal
Woods Cross, UT

As a counterpoint to what was said in the article, less classroom time is a trend in Utah schools. Programs such as advisory, more frequent and longer assemblies, late starts for various reasons, more sports that pull kids out of class early, all tend to be the new norm. It seems that academics no longer matters.

We hire teachers to teach. They should be granted the time to do their jobs. We as parents should discourage programs that diminish classroom time.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

To preface my comments, I just want to say I support our schools and teachers as evidenced in previous posts.

However, I think there are some limitations to this idea.

First, I think young children need to spend more time with their families, not less.

Second, schools aren't the only sources for education for a child. Students can learn when their parents can take them to other classes, museums, performances etc. I know for some this doesn't happen in their families but for others they take advantage of this time and great teaching and learning takes place.

Third, we need to end the testing. That is the real problem here.

Fourth, are we willing to pay teachers more to do this? IMO, they deserve more for what they do now.

Fifth, Similar to #2, I think students can learn valuable things through play, through participation in organized sports, music and other artistic endeavors. I think students can learn lots of things though civic organizations, church organizations and scouting.

Finally, I don't think school should be a 8-hour job and I don't think schools should be used as daycare providers and this seems to smack of this.

Kings Court
Alpine, UT

Howard, it is noble that you expect parents to function as good parents, but in the real world, that is not happening, especially in high poverty areas. Many kids have only one parent in the home or two parents that work. Those parents either cannot afford to provide quality enrichment time for their kids or are too busy or tired at the end of each school day (assuming they come home during the hours their children are home). The number one predictor of student achievement is the educational attainment of the mother. The number two predictor is the social status of a student's parents. I ran my own data sets on Honors or AP Course enrollment in a local Utah secondary school (picked at random) and discovered that 85% of students enrolled come from stable homes and upper-middle class and higher backgrounds. The results were shocking and verifies what this article is talking about. Students who come from lower socio-economic neighborhoods were further behind their peers and less likely to engage in challenging course work.

At some point schools need to step in to help these students, because they will never get it at home.

Nan BW
ELder, CO

Having longer school days could be helpful to families that don't have a good arrangement for children when school is not in session, but it is a poor solution to the problem. These children need activity, help with homework, outdoor time, and a safe place to be, but not more classroom time. And those children who can be with their families should be there. I am a former teacher and I cannot strongly enough state that a school day should not be any longer. In the long run it would be counter-productive.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

To King's Court:

I'm a believer in after school programs that feature play, learning arts, music and sports and other extracurricular things. Young people need these outlets. But I also believe these should not be mandatory but some mechanism set up to make them voluntary and properly funded. Many schools have these things already.

Since I actually want to parent my children and luckily my wife and I are still married and educated, we would like to spend more time with our actual children. But we also support public schools and their functions and try to be involved. We even desire our children to be involved in extracurricular activities of their choice. But I am against extra time to be spent for math and English. Enough already! And I don't want other subjects cut out or be part of the extended day. Again, I support using our schools, as many are now used, for extracurricular activities, tutoring etc. but a formal extended day I think is not the way to go.

And as much as I do support the schools and teachers, my wife and I still see ourselves as the primary teacher of our children.

RunAmuckMom
Salt Lake City, UT

Considering the amount of latchkey kids today, this is a wonderful, productive, proactive idea. Yes, children should be spending more "quality" time WITH their families but, realistically the statistics for families that really do this is slim. The educational quality of children is suffering and the pressures for teachers to squeeze in more material in the same 6 1/2 hour time slot has increased. The nation's response to this in the past was to hold teachers solely responsible for the children's retention and performance on national standardized testing. Something needs to change, our 6 1/2 hr school day is equivalent to the first IBM 8-bit computer. We need to upgrade and update our nation's time allotted for education. Keep in mind, REALISTICALLY, what time most parents get home from their daily duties and truly how much time they take to unwind and prepare to be with their families. Adding 2 more hours to a school day is really not a lot of sacrifice for the investment return on our nation's future and their families.

Dr. Felger
Heber, UT

The article seems to go along with the misguided notion that longer school days (or school year) would result in better educated students. Perhaps, the author could research why Finland does much better academically than the US, yet doesn't have long school days. It's quite possibly that the students in the US have other interests than being treated as political pawns.

Laura Ann
Layton, UT

I can tell you this: At about 3:00 pm, your students, in elementary school, are much harder to teach. They are just plain burned out for the day. I believe there should be a longer school year with the same amount of hours. Kids can only take so much in before they start to flag, along with the teacher.

worf
Mcallen, TX

Most adults don't like sitting still seven to eight hours a day.

From my observance, students do most of their learning from morning till lunch. After that, it becomes a battle.

IMO, school should go 8:00 AM to 1:00PM, four days a week. Students need time to explore, and build creativity on their own. Learning in school supplements what they do with their independent time.

It worked for Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, and many others.

And yes! Get rid of those controlling tests.

Kralon
HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA

I have my doubts about simply expanding the school length. I would be more interested in trying to better use the time in school. My nine-year-old is going to one of the top ten elementary schools in Utah (by test scores) and their state testing is done, so are homework assignments. But, she still has three plus weeks of school left, she says she isn't being taught anything new and they now aren't reviewing for tests. From her point of view (that I just heard about last Friday) there is no more learning and while she might be incorrect it does lead to a discussion about better use of school time.

Of course, I haven't spoken with her teacher yet, but it seems to me that you can always improve in anything you do, so I would be pushing for improvement with the time allotted rather than looking to add more time.

Coach P
Provo, UT

Sometimes less is more. As a coach I've learned that if it isn't done in two hours it isn't going to be done. I'm not saying school should be two hours but the concept is that making school longer might be counterproductive. I mean we could make the school day 12 hours and do non-stop teaching English, Math, Science etc. but I'm not sure it would get better results, let alone be humane for the children.

The Dixie Kid
Saint George, UT

How about longer school years instead of longer hours. Summer break is way too long.

bandersen
Saint George, UT

More time? You have to be kidding! There is no way in the world that more time in school is going to do anything but diminish overall scores, diminish family time, and diminish individuals. The family is central to a stable society, not school! 'School' it is too, instead of education! The government can only promote 'school', instead of 'learning', something schools increasingly don't promote with ad infinitum tests,assessments,and measurements. Increasingly, the ability to even 'educate' a student is being replaced by government measurement devices that only want to manage and control what they don't know much about, only to submit it to a naive public that in many cases could care less what is taking place (Just keep my kid out of my hair for 10 hours a day while I pretend to doing what is important)! More school is just another attempt to throw up a white flag at the 'education' of our children. Quit patronizing human beings that have the capacity to direct their own destiny, only to be thwarted in the attempt by a lethargic system that keeps wanting to turn 'school' into a massive babysitting tool.

worf
Mcallen, TX

Children are people. Must their whole waken day be managed?

On top of more hours, some moron will mandate a couple hours of homework to go along with it.

kimnprovo
Orem, UT

Something I am always wary of is the phrase "early results are promising". That is research speak for "we want to do more testing because we have no definitive answers and want to keep studying".

I absolutely believe; however, that they are seeing success in the inner-city schools. I don't necessarily believe it's from additional learning though. We don't need Harvard research to tell any parent or teacher that when extra attention is paid to a child they flourish.

Imagine children with little, if any, support at home (for whatever reason). Now that child has more time at school where she has a teacher encouraging her for nearly two extra hours each day. Of course there would be some immediate increase in engagement with the child. That doesn't mean extended hours are going to be beneficial to all children in all areas of the country.

Something I'm curious about... funding... how exactly is funding being "found" for such changes? What I would really hate to see would be that such funding would be found only to have it become free babysitting for neglegent parents.

Runner
Chandler, AZ

I agree with the first post here. The length of the school day is probably just fine, but what happens during that day is where the problem is. UT schools should adopt a more, back to basics approach. If kids want to learn musicals and dramatics, that's great, let the family support that in the home. The schools can even encourage it by having talent assemblies, etc., but they don't have to teach it. The schools should focus more on the fundamental disciplines such as Reading, Grammer, US & World history (not UT history), Science, Math, and Languages/Cultures. With that type of focus, there really isn't room for advisory time, plays, and needless assemblies.

Let the schools focus on what they are trained to do and let the families teach what they would like to do.

DavidMiller
Bountiful, UT

There are certainly children who can benefit from more time in school. They are most likely to be found in areas of low socioeconomic status. I think kimnprovo hit the nail on the head. The solution is not to extend school days or school years for everyone. The solution should focus more on helping families to prioritize their time together. Even when we do that there will be needs that can be met through some social programs but they should be voluntary - not mandatory - and they should be secondary to encouraging families to address the problem rather than trying to replace the primacy of families simply because some families are dysfunctional.

Even though antibiotics are effective against specific diseases we have learned that overusing them has significant, long-term negative effects. Turning to school to solve problems resulting from broken families may bring short-term gains or help in specific situations but when overused it will make the problems worse and more widespread.

common twit
Salt Lake City, UT

I find it interesting that when people talk about education and learning, they usually talk about more time. Some of the above posts get it. They understand that more time does not necessarily mean better learning. In my perfect world, we would go less hours in the day. We would probably take less time off in the summer. We would follow the data on what helps kids learn. Some of those are, later starting time, high order thinking classes early in the day and taking arts classes. What most people don't understand is that students in the arts score much higher on testing that the rest of the school population. By arts, I mean band, choir, painting, dancing. I am told that in a high school near me that nearly have of the advanced art students are also in calculus.
This might be something to think about.

Obama10
SYRACUSE, UT

We don't need longer days, we need more effective teachers. There are many great teachers out there, but as I talk with my kids and their friends about school, I am amazed at the amount of "lazy" teaching that happens in Jr. High and High school. Many stories about a teacher putting on a video and then checking her Facebook account or texting. Just last Friday, my Nephew was complaining about a "librarian" who was teaching them about writing reports and "teaching" things he learned in 6th grade; he is now a Sophomore. My favorite was a teacher telling kids how to email. These kids don't email, they text, twitter, and snapchat. The kids could have shown the "teacher" the latest in technology. I still can't figure out the "late start" on Tuesday, or early out on Friday, or all of the "teacher prep" days. We don't need longer days. We need teachers to be more effective and efficient with the time they have been given.

docport1
,

Having spent 43 years in the classroom I can tell you more time in the classroom doesn't make for smarter kids. A class size of 20 is the best answer for improving education. It's also a matter of priorities. No Child Left Behind and standardized testing are the culprits of today's lack of quality time in a classroom. More physical education and fine arts are the secret ingredients to expanding a child's mind....not more busy work. In the 40s, 50s and 60s we went to school the same amount of time as happens now and look at the advances this country has enjoyed from those students.

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