I was doing a little research for my back to school post at TechLearning Blog. I read through the blogs of my peers, I researched school calendars of other countries, I researched four day school weeks, and the reasons why our school calendar is the way it is, in the Northern Hemisphere at least and why school calendars are different in the Southern Hemisphere or not.
All this article intends to be is a jumping off point for a conversation. There are some facts which this post is based on, but no hard core research. That is for someone other than myself. I was surprised to see the last PEW Internet Trust survey about school calendars was in 2004. Maybe PEW has something in the works. I hope so.
As many of us begin our school year in August and September it is interesting to note that most US schools are looking at 177 to 185 student days. In my quick search of overseas school calendars I located some beginning at 185 and extending to 200 student days. This should give us pause, in the US. Why do our students attend school fewer days than our global friends?
Most of us are beginning school at the end of the harvest season. I find this to be true in the Northern Hemisphere as well as the Southern Hemisphere. I understand why this was true a hundred years ago, maybe even 50 years ago, but I don't know the percentage of students and families who are engaged with the harvest of our crops and why this type of calendar should still hold true.
Many schools base their calendars with respect to local religions and culture. Many states and countries dictate the school calendar with some variation at the local level. This is true across the globe.
Then the question of the number of days per week that schools are in session. Most schools stick with the traditional 5 days a week. It is interesting that when energy costs rose astronomically some (very few) schools decided immediately that they would make a huge shift and designed school calendars with longer school days and fewer days per week. Did this shift make sense educationally too?
I wonder what it would be like to make a school calendar and school day based on the needs of students and teachers? What is your school calendar based on?