Friday, March 26, 2010

Most kids would like Saturdays: maybe not because the next day is Sunday but as Saturday is a half-day (come to school and there you go off to home early). After joining a five-day-workplace, I felt why the heck did I study for an extra day. So much for my naïveté: I was equating a not-so-riveting work environment with an overwhelmingly interesting classroom (though that wasn’t the case with me; it was a thoroughly unexciting place, scarier than the workplace).

In any case, in the fast-evolving corporatization of education (they call it an industry now), it is not surprising that such schools too have five-day workweeks. Maybe, this is meant for teachers (or employees!) rather than for students. So are students, at least in principle, better off with fewer school days. Some say effective use of the available time (even if it is four days a week) matters more than how many days students go to school. Others indicate that learning outside classroom through modes such as e-learning are fast becoming meaningful for kids. But “…far fewer will take the initiative to learn more geometry or rules of grammar on their own. While glitzy technology will make such things more tempting for more kids, and well-organized (and prosperous) parents can help make that happen, millions of girls and boys are likely to continue doing most of their academic learning in places called school, during "school hours" and under a teacher's supervision.”

But longer hours at school supposedly makes students smarter: “the Chinese schoolchildren spend 41 days more a year than most young Americans and get 30% more hours of instruction.” Less and less of formal learning, replaced by music and art (valid nonetheless), has become the mainstay of school reforms. True, music and art are modes of infant learning, but there is an age at which this must be parted with and formal (math and science) education must truly begin. Students may find math in music, but they must dabble with theorems to get a true sense of the beauty of this science.

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