A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Duh, duh, double-duh. But it'll never happen.

So, starting the school day later benefits teens, huh?

You're kidding. Here's the scoop:
A study of teens at a Rhode Island boarding school found that pushing back the school day by 30 minutes improved concentration, mood and even encouraged students to consume healthier breakfasts. It also reduced tardiness.

The results of the study appear in the July edition of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, which also ran an editorial that said a "growing body of evidence that changing the start time for high schools is good for adolescents."

Researchers believe that teens have trouble falling asleep before 11 p.m., and they are often in their deepest sleep at dawn, when they need to rouse for morning classes.

This is one of those obvious findings- and yet this policy will probably not be implemented. Why? Here's three reasons why:

1. An early start time means more time for practice for athletic teams after school-- and NEVER underestimate the power of high school sports.

2. A change to the high school schedule necessitates a change in the elementary and middle school schedules due to transportation issues. Other research has indicated that the little kids should actually go to school earlier, so some school districts have suggested flipping the high school and elementary schedules. However, many parents resist this because their high schoolers are then not home to watch the little ones, who would also get out in the early afternoon, when mom and dad are still at work.

3. An early school day also means more time for after school jobs. Thus teens, their families, and their employers are therefore going to resist the scheduling consequences.

So I personally plan on seeing groggy, half-comatose students in my classes for the rest of my teaching career. And I'm not being cynical --I've seen these changes proposed about every four years or so, and shot down just as quickly over the reasons listed above. But let's face it-- it's a hallmark of modern culture to choose expediency over what's right.

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At 7/6/10, 2:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our "reform" superintendent stated a couple years back that he had no intention of ever doing this.

Of course, this was at a "parent engagement" meeting, set up specifically to ask for parent input, and this was the number one thing mentioned in each of the small break out groups.

At the time, it was one of the first indications that reform and parent engagement meant very different things to the superintendent and to the parents, teachers, and students. It's become more and more clear since then though.

At 7/7/10, 9:34 AM, Blogger Ms Characterized said...

You've given every reason it won't happen at our school, either.

And, like other schools, we have a 'zero' period from 6:55, too. Dippy, but it frees up their schedule for athletics, or for a home period.

At 7/8/10, 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've also always wondered...why can't the athletics take an early morning hour and lop it off at the end of the day? If they're awake enough for school, they're certainly awake enough for sports. (Besides, swimmers and crew are already up before then already practicing.)

At 7/9/10, 9:01 AM, Blogger Lightly Seasoned said...

I agree entirely. However, things being as they are, I use it to my advantage. The principal in charge of scheduling helps me out and puts the remedial classes first thing in the morning for me. These kids are mostly ED and it helps to have the edge off them and before they've gotten into it with someone. They do a little better this way. My AP classes then fall when the kids are perkier and ready to go.

At 7/11/10, 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lightly Seasoned, that may be great for your classes, but those of us who have the your morning kids in the afternoon have a HELL of a time. That's basically what I lived through for ten years running.

I recall reading, a few years ago, of some high school in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area that went to late start and saw great improvements across the board. I don't know if they're still doing it.

At 7/13/10, 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My public high school has 5,000 kids. The school bus comes by my neighborhood at 5:45 am to bus kids in (15 miles away). This is because of the football schedule: 4,980 kids are forced to stand in the dark street (no sidewalks or streetlights) so that the 20 on the football team can have their after-school practice.

I agree with the poster who said the sports should start earlier, and the academic classes start, you know, when the kids are actually AWAKE.


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