We have been discussing whether to physically close or reopen schools for almost a year. Next, we need a second discussion. Do I need to reduce school vacations and increase remote or direct lesson days so that students can catch up at least in the middle of their lost learning? And does this change need to be permanent?
The pandemic has led us to rethink much of what we normally consider. I’m surprised that I haven’t opened this topic yet, such as work, travel, and encounters. We have to do it for two reasons. First of all, the situation for many students is dire. Second, school vacations, which have evolved since the Industrial Revolution, were arbitrary and bad ideas in the first place. This is a good time to fix it.
Let’s start with the children’s strait. As usual, whether an individual child suffers depends on their family. People in wealthy and educated households are probably doing well. Their home is a digital sanctuary. Their savvy parents may have formed “pods” with similar families and hired tutors, but were otherwise away from the general public and their bacteria.
However, most other children are far behind between distance learning and online learning. And people from poor families and minorities are the most lagging behind. On average, students start their current academic year and learn only 67% of their normally expected math and 87% of their reading comprehension, according to a US survey. In most schools, non-white students accounted for 59% in mathematics and 77% in reading. And these are the numbers from last fall after just half a year of “online learning.”
These educational disparities are permanently life-threatening. Even if German schools reopen next month, Raja Wesmann, an economist at the Ifo Institute for Economic Research in Munich, believes that today’s children will earn an average of 4.5% less in their careers. .. They also suffer from related epidemics such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and obesity, which should eventually lead to more diabetes.
What is clear to me is that we are far beyond the stage where we can make up for this lost education without changing the way the school system is set up. In addition, we may be indefinitely in this open / close rotation, as new mutations in the coronavirus appear to appear at a nearly new vaccine pace.
At the same time, the educational crisis caused by this pandemic also looks like a very exaggerated form of another phenomenon that educators have been aware of for decades: the so-called “summer slip” of children. Or “summer decline” has forgotten many of them learned during a long vacation.
Even before Covid-19, the length and distribution of vacations throughout the calendar year varied widely from country to country. In Europe, children from the Flanders region of Belgium attended school for 158 days a year, and children from Denmark and Italy attended school for 200 days. Even in the United States, where summer vacation is long, class hours are relatively short, about 180 days in most states.
For some reason, the myth is widespread that this tradition dates back to the former direction of the agricultural calendar. If so, there are long breaks in spring (planting) and autumn (harvesting). In fact, the long summer vacation was more related to the hell of urban life during the Industrial Revolution before air conditioning and other creatures became comfortable.
The true origin of our current system was bureaucratization, consistent with industrialization, as governments increasingly standardized education. In the process, they responded to both rural and urban traditions. As a result, mass production and mass education for the era of mass production have been realized. It was long before human capital, lifelong learning and creativity became buzzwords and policy priorities.
Therefore, when we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it makes no sense to stick to the school system we have built for the first and second. You should stop packing as much content as you can at some point this year. As a result, the children are under great pressure and exam stress and only give up much of the progress of the other months.
Most teachers and their unions will reject my call for change. They argue that time outside the classroom is needed for teacher training and development. But many other professions can also find time for career training, “skill up”, sabbatical, and rest without long academic breaks.
To be sure, pandemics are already a stressor for teachers. The shorter your vacation, the more likely it will be. Therefore, change proposals need more support for educators. This means not only increasing salaries, but also training and social respect. It was even needed before Covid. We must attract more talent to arguably the most important professions today.
To be clear: I love vacations, mine, and yours. And I think American adults who aren’t teachers make it too few. That’s why I’m happy to live in Europe now. (I’ve heard phonetics puns. European “leisure” lingers with “joy.” American “leisure” sounds like “seizures.”) All of us, especially. Children need a vacation.
But we are also facing a pandemic that has caused an unprecedented educational disaster. We need to respond to this emergency. No more learning can be packed into a day or a week. But you can spread it more evenly over a slightly longer grade. It is interrupted by a short break (perhaps more often).
And whenever this pandemic is over, we can talk about whether it’s a better model in peacetime.
Andreas Kluth is a columnist at Bloomberg Opinion. He was previously the Editor-in-Chief of Handelsblatt Global and an economist writer. He is the author of “Hannibal and I”.
This story was published from the Wire Agency Feed without changing the text.
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