With the working day typically stretching from 9 to 5 and the school day from just 9 to 3, it seems that there is an obvious problem regarding those extra two hours, in which children will surely be wandering aimlessly out of classrooms and into ongoing traffic. For households with lower incomes or those with rigid hours and no way of getting their child home on time, lengthening the school day could be a good idea for the simple reason of giving their child a place to be. But is this reason enough to prolong the daily education of the entire juvenile populace?
Although children must be in the school building by 9 and are permitted to leave at 3, the school day really starts at 7 and ends at 4 or 5, depending on your means of travel. Hectic mornings, long walks, unreliable buses and trains, long car journeys, mid-journey stops, extracurricular clubs and breakfast clubs are rarely taken into account. So for those over the age of 9 or 10, whose parents decide are mature enough to walk to school by themselves, or for those who travel with older siblings their day closely matches that of their parents in terms of length and the level of strain it has on them. Yes, adults have to work 8 hour shifts. But they’re adults, and they’re getting paid. Children are sent to a school of their parent’s choice, follow a set curriculum of their government’s choice, sit in a class of their teacher’s choice, wear clothes of their school’s choice and do virtually nothing of their own choice. If they had any say, it’s doubtful school would be the place they’d choose to be. The level of stress is slowly amped up as they develop mentally and emotionally in such a way that they’re able to cope with each increase. Adding two hours per day would add 380 hours to the academic year. That’s no small change.
Now of course it can be argued that such an extension would have positive results in terms of performance but this would be a detriment to many less mentally versatile students who fail to keep up with heavier work loads and more packed days. And some children, if not most, simply do not have the attention span for an 8 hour day to benefit them any more than a 6 hour one. For older children who can maintain their focus throughout longer days, specifically those in secondary school, it is not essential to be picked up by a parent every day so the point of lengthening the day becomes moot. And most glaringly, who is going to fund the increase in pay that thousands of teachers across the country will then be entitled to, or quell their outrage at suddenly losing 10 hours a week of their own time?
For many parents, the system as it is now has been adapted to their work schedules and measures are in place to ensure their child ends up home every day. A small number have trouble, and would have less trouble with school days that corresponded with their work timetable, but the two are entirely separate and should not be changed for convenience. Schools already do take measures to cater to those children who have no way of getting home immediately after school, such as after school clubs, and as it’s such a minority that it seems entirely unnecessary to make such a dramatic change to solve a problem which does not appear to be sufficiently problematic. Children have to get home from school – it is not a case of them missing school as a result. A solution is found for each individual case, so why presume that this incredibly specific situation is the rule and tackle it with one fell swoop?
Luckily the issue is only being debated.
Header image; Paradox 56