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Should kids have longer school days?

It could increase knowledge, but it will cost more money.

  • Sep 10 2011: In some developing countries kids might benefit from spending more time in school but in countries like China, Canada and US kids are in school long enough. Many of them do not learn much but that has nothing to do with how many hours they spend in school. Rather the school system is very ineffective in teaching.

    The existing school systems need to change so that it motivates kids to learn, teach effectively and focus on learning how to communicate, team work, creativity and ethics with hand-on experience and less on memorizing facts.

    One good example of such system is Khan Academy and some school using it already. See these videos:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education.html

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms.html

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html
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    Sep 10 2011: Can you help me to understand the reasoning or logic behind that longer School Time means more knowledge as you said in premise?

    I see longer school time means detachment of family and friends for longer time.
    Lower play time, longer time of killing creativity (Ref: Prof Ken Robinson)

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html
    • Sep 10 2011: Salim, I agree that longer school hours will not automatically equal more knowledge or more learning, BUT
      1. Unless children are very lucky to have one stay at home parent, or a parent who works from home and can spare time for them on regular basis, spending 2 more hours at school will not detach them from family
      2. Most friends kids make are actually in school... so more time in school means more connection with friends.

      Now, I can agree with you that more time in the models of school we have today would equal longer time killing creativity. However, as Prof Robinson proposes, if we remodel schools, more time whithin a system that values art, sports, creativity and yes, play time as well it would benefit both the kids themselves and the society they are part of.

      Another point I'd like to add is that in several societies (mine included, I dont know about yours), kids are no longer allowed to play outside or to hang out in groups in the streets. Here, urban violence in big cities have escalated so much, one would be crazy to allow kids to play on the sidewalk (in rough numbers, there are around 200 deaths a year in the israeli-palestinian conflict... in my city we had more homicides than that in a period of 5 months). SO kids end up confined to their homes, spending countless hours on computer or video games or in front of TV. That is not much help either.

      I prefer fighting for a change in the school model that would include an increase in the number of hour, coz I think that would be the most beneficial use of taxpayers money.
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        Sep 10 2011: Understand Patricia what you said about both parents working. If we can make our families social unit rather than economic which once it was , than kids have grand parents at home which is still available in many asian countries including mine. But yes you are right it's not the case everywhere.

        Yes even i can't allow my kids to play outside without supervision , and my kids always say me that I was luckier as I told them my childhood strories.
        All my best wishes of remodelling schools soon really. Untill then lengthening kids time to school will not bring much benefit interms increasing knowledge (my viewpoint current system is just a certification system not knowledge enhancing system)
        Moreover if we really think serious about kids well being we have time find time in any way to give them for family time, more love...
  • Sep 13 2011: Maybe it is not the time students spend at school that is the problem, but the amount of time each student spends in the classroom.

    If a student is forced to learn five to seven different subjects during the day, I imagine retention would suffer.
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    Sep 10 2011: Well I propose: Should kids have longer family days?

    It could increase compassion and love, but it will cost time. Are we capable to afford it?.
  • Sep 10 2011: Yes they should have longer school days. But that extra time should be used for what's missing in most kid's lives these days: sports and arts.
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      Sep 10 2011: Lee why dont think about longer and happier study sessions, in school or home? Not days....sesions in time periods that could be followed in their own rythm. Education is real when you can transform anguish in smiles.
  • Sep 10 2011: The main problem does not currently seem to be the length of the education provided, but the abhorent lack of quality in today's education systems. I do not think that an lots of poor quality education would provide anywhere near the same level of knowledge and skill as a little high uality education would.
    • Sep 10 2011: I totally agree with Cutts.

      There is a limit of school hours which makes it different from jail. Referring to cost, it is not expense, it is long term investment. However, the solution lies in improving the quality of education; not the hours.
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    Sep 10 2011: http://www.ted.com/conversations/5467/what_subjects_do_you_think_you.html
    May be some of these school subject can make the longer day at school more fun and effective. :) Enjoy!
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    Sep 10 2011: If it provides more time for sports and extracurricular activities chosen by the students themselves I agree otherwise I think it's just a waste of time and they can just as effectively do that in front the computer and may accidentally learn something.
  • Sep 10 2011: In response to both Zdenek Smith and Anthoni Bruni
    I tend to agree with most thingssaid by both of you. Anthoni, most parents desperatly need to learn what is their role in a child's education and intellectual development. Instead, most just complain about the failing grades and lack of motivation on the part of their kids. I totally agree that learning can take place anywhere and that most of it happens outside the classroom. But how to get parents who were educated in a creativity killing system realise that? The role of standard/public education is exactly that of trying to do the bare minimum kids need. I only think that this bare minimun has increased, and so should the number of hours, at least in my country. I think 6 hours of school would be ideal.

    Now the answer reaches Zdenek: in developing countries there are several other things to be taken into account when talking about increasing the number of hours a child spends in school. One overwhelming barrier for underpriviledged kids to overcome is actually hunger. Lets take the example of a kid who studies in the morning period here. They would arrive at school at 7:30 am, without having had breakfast at home, because there literally is none. Actually, one of the biggest motivator of going to school is the certainty of a meal at around 10:00, their midmorning snack provided by the public school. In my opinion, those first 2:30 hours of classrom were lost. Then, they have more classes from 10:30 to 12, and go home for no lunch, and an afternoon of wasted time. In places where the schools actually changed their schedule to 9 am and started providing breakfast before class, lunch, and a midafternoon snack, the productivity improved immensely. So, yes, US and Europe have a totally different reality, but when we talk about countries like Brazil increasing the number of hours kids spend in school also increases govnm. responsibility over their food safety and well-being, and that makes all the difference
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      Sep 10 2011: Patricia

      I feel the best way to correct this problem is to find a way to engage parents in classes as they parent. This may seem counter intuitive since parents are themselves busy raising children, but a major part of raising children is being a healthy role model. How you live your life is what their basis of normality will be. If they see you learning new ideas/ skills they will just assume that people are in a continuous process of learning and this is a good thing. That said parents are busy and money is often tight. Unfortunately as adult people are faced with a zero sum problem of college which is great if you can afford it or if you can use it to improve your job situation or no further education at all. We need to start class and workshops where people esp parents can learn in a casual setting. In short normalize the process of learning, instead of turning it into some weird way of sorting out an intellectual caste system.

      Also good point about making sure children are not hungry. It seems that if you are trying to teach hungry children without feeding them you know little about children or education. It also ties into false nutrition where children have enough to eat, but it is devoid of any healthful properties. Hungry children, children overloaded with sugar will be much harder to teach than kids with a decent diet.
    • Sep 10 2011: Hi Patricia, yes children in developing countries have many obstacles in their way. Some lack food, others have to work with parents and cannot even attend school.

      I think the solution is for the government and organizations to provide food and in some cases even pay parents to send kids to the school.

      We also have "one laptop per child" program that helps the children to bring school to their homes through the use of cheap laptops.

      Myself I sponsor a child in Dominican Republic to ensure she can attend a school. I hope more people will realize that one of the best way to help make our world a better place is through education.
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    Sep 10 2011: Why do we have this idea that learning takes place only in a schoolroom. Maybe if we acknowledge that schools are one of many sources of knowledge we can finally figure out how to make them better at what they do well rather than try to shoehorn them into every box of child development.

    How about instead devoting time to read with your child. Not to him but just have some books laying around, you read one for a while while he or she reads one. Take your child for a walk exploring whatever nature you have around. Learn a thing or two about your natural environment so you can point out stuff to him or her. Make sure they are expose to a wide variety of interesting people. Teach them to cook a meal, make a fire, fix a bike, program a computer.


    I feel maybe instead of more school for children we need schools to empower parents to take some responsibility for the intellectual health of their child.
  • Sep 10 2011: School systems are different everywhere. I'm from Brazil and here a child (5 to 11) spends an average of 4 hours in school, either in the morning or in the aternoon. I agree with what was mentioned above that just increasing the number of hours without increasing the actual quality of the education given means nothing. Still, I believe the number of hours could be increased, specially once most kids have to go to other kinds of school to complement their education - my daughter, for example, goes twice a week to english school (3 extra hours) and sports practice (3 extra hours). I believe the regular school should provide all that. In order to do so, more hours would be required.

    In terms of cost, sadly I come from a reality in which appart from paying the taxes which were supposed to provide us school for our children, I have to bear to cost of my child's education. At least in my country, it would be nice to see the government spending more money in education (and spending it more wisely as well) and kids spending more time at school, not as a prison or obligation, but actually learning things that will be useful for their future at the same time as contributing to the future of our country as a whole.

    As of the last 5 years or so, Brazil has witnessed unprecedented growth. For the first time people have faith that this country may actually live up to its potential. Yet, as the number of jobs increased and the companies started paying better salaries, they have also become more demanding. The general complaint around the country has shifted from "there arent enought jobs" to "there arent enough people capable of taking the jobs that have been created". The saddest part is that the requirements are not that high: most people dont get a placement because they dont have HIGHSCHOOL LEVEL READING SKILLS. So what do we do now? Stop growing?

    It is high time government understood that INVESTMENT in education is not SPENDING.
    • Sep 10 2011: Here in the UK once you enter full-time education at around 5 or 6 you spend six hours a day in school, five days a week, not including homework. Even here you only start recieving a good education once you reach about 13, and depending upon which school you go to you may not recieve it then. The only ways to get a good education are to pay extremely high fees for a private school or to do it yourself.
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    Sep 10 2011: I believe they should but the structure or the school system would have to change. First to go should be home work. Its never good to burn out the mind. The extra time should include walk in classes that are more like a vocational class teaching different fields of work on a more generic level. Technology, Architecture, Graphic design, Robotics, Mechanics, and other such classes. This will allow people to find there calling. With the connections we have today someone who has the interest and natural talent for any field should be able to get into specialized schools for those specific careers they are interested in. By changing the structure and given more time with less focus on grades and more on actual learning people will go where they are meant to go. This guarantees every child's future.