To the editor:
It is the latest idea of extending the school year that has caused me to write. So far, I have read no valid proof or even any reason that makes sense for extending the school year. Just because Germany and Japan have more days, is that a reason for us to have more days?I believe that what teachers and students put into the school days is important. I believe that the answer to better learning is: More time for the teachers to spend teaching an individual, one to one; Teaching of discipline should be done at home so that teachers do not have to take class time to discipline.
A recent study in the last NEA newspaper stated that smaller class size contributed to higher test scores. Classes of 17 were compared to classes of 23. In my own current class of 23, I am forced to teach the group for the majority of the school day.
I teach reading, writing, spelling, math, science, social studies, health, music, art, P.E. and positive action. If I was able to take two minutes to teach a new concept to each individual student in only one of these subjects, it would take 46 minutes. Multiply this by 10 and you have used the whole school day. I teach a concept to the group and then try to get around to each individual.
As to the subject of discipline, it is my understanding that the disruptive student is simply not allowed in European or Japanese schools. The Japanese family teaches the children how to behave. At school, an ethics class is given to all students on a weekly basis. Also teachers in Japan get respect and the salary of an engineer.
Here in the United States, the majority only respects the wealthy or the big bucks. Since teachers do not make high salaries, they are not respected like those who make a lot of money.
So before you push to extend the school year, please first push to make the 180 days that we now have more productive by cutting class sizes and encouraging student discipline and respect for the teacher. Extending the school with the same problems contained in them will not solve these problems.
Geraldine Kerr Tolman Coombs
Salt Lake City