01 August 2010

Finally the Truth Comes Out


This is something that we all suspected long ago. In fact, the article mentions that academics started noticing this 'summer slide' as long ago as 1906. They attribute the long summer holiday to our 19th century agrarian habits. I guess they didn't know that farm work and work in the shop was often done before school and after school until at least the 40s and 50s where I grew up. 

In elementary and high school we would ask our teachers why it took so long to start some new stuff each year. They would tell us that it was a good pedagogical technique to review the material from the previous year, though I'm sure they didn't use the term 'pedagogical' in those days. I don't think we totally believed them. In the later years of high school and during college we needed to earn money for the coming semester, so that made some sense then. Nowadays the huge tuitions, even at state schools, means that kids can't really expect to earn anything close to what it costs for the next semester. In fact I see some schools, both high schools and colleges recognizing this problem and trying to remedy it be graduating more quickly, starting with community college classes in high school and summer school in college.

A few decades ago I joined a threesome of young guys for some golf in early June. I could tell by their conversation that they were teachers fresh out of school. For a now unknown reason we started talking about our educational system and its results. They had a lot of good ideas. When I suggested that we have a longer school year they looked at me as if I had lost my mind. No more of that silly talk.




This graphic is a little puzzling. It looks like South Korea spends half the instructional hours on math that we do for a significant increase in math scores at age 15. Doesn't that suggest that maybe we should spend less time than we do. What are we doing with all that time on math? Are we harming some students? It looks like there is a fairly decent correlation of age 15 scores with total school days, except for Brazil. And look at Mexico, they spend more time and score lower than we do.

The article points out various strategies and tactics for avoiding this 'summer slide,' many of which look promising. What took them so long? Maybe we should post the math skills that need to be understood and when they have been demonstrated then the student gets to do something else. Some might finish by age 14, while others might take a few more years. Maybe the end point should be when the student is capable of showing that his parents understand the concepts.

I remember Time Magazine as a sort of middle of the road weekly news magazine for average working stiffs who didn't have time to listen to NPR. I'm not sure what audience it is aiming at these days.

2 comments:

T. Greer said...

What the article does not mention is that most South Korean kids spend 3-4 hours after school in tutoring sessions. Talk to any man or woman recently graduated from a high school in India, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, or China, and they will confirm this. Asian high schoolers have two school days.

Ken & Carol said...

Thanks friend T. I wondered if there was some reasonable explanation for these curious findings. The main point of the article was that there is a significant loss over the long summer holiday, and especially for those households not so blessed with time or money. Some places do have year round schools but not more than 180 days. I wonder if that makes any difference.

Not sure what "Asian high schoolers have two school days." means. Did something get lost?

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime
At The BrewPub on Broadway

Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix in the Winter Time

Good Cheese Here

Good Cheese Here
Vermont Cheddar & Minnesota Blue

TAKE TIME FOR PARADISE

TAKE TIME FOR PARADISE
Dehler Park, Billings MT, July 2008 This is what Bart Giamatti recommends for good mental health.

Me and Joan

Me and Joan
Early elderly and middle middle age: We May Know Something You Don't

Mrs America

Mrs America
Fortunately these girls had a good-looking mother

Rimrocks @ Billings MT

Rimrocks @ Billings MT
“In beholding old stones we may feel our anxieties about our achievements–and lack of them–slacken . . . Vast landscapes [and seascapes] can have an anxiety–reducing effect similar to ruins, for they are the representatives of infinite space, as ruins are the representatives of infinite time, against which our weak, short-lived bodies seem no less inconsequential than those of moths or spiders.”—Alain de Botton in Status Anxiety

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral
12 April 2009

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs
A Lot of Muellers Are Buried Here