In Grade 7, I participated in a write-off competition at the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) journalism convention. The topic? Year-round schooling.
I remember at the time thinking it was a pretty weird – and quite honestly, ludicrous – idea. The idea of abandoning long summer vacations scared me. But since then, times have changed, and I’m actually here to advocate for the introduction of year-round schooling at the school.
Year-round schooling can take many different forms, but at its core, it consists of having a set number of weeks attending school – say nine weeks – followed by a set number weeks of vacation – in this case three. And this cycle continues all year long, so instead of having a few one and two-week vacations throughout the year and a 10 week summer vacation, students and teachers are provided with breaks more evenly throughout the year. Everything besides timing is the same: We still move up a grade each year (the year would officially end, say in June, and we would then have a break the same length as the others before returning for a new year), we have the same amount of school and vacation days, and we can still celebrate the holidays we celebrate now.
I’m not going to deny that this plan could cause some problems. Coordinating schedules with other schools for things like sports could be a challenge. Some summer programs may no longer line up their timing with our summer break. But I think the benefits offered to students far outweigh the negatives. Sports teams would still be able to attend ISSTs, and regular season games would only have to be rescheduled at the beginning of the year, in late September and early October, when we would have our first break of the year; everything else would remain the same. Students would still be able to attend all June and early July summer programs and work experiences, and because our breaks will be longer and timed with few other schools, students would have an advantage if they chose to apply for work experience outside of summer break.
So why do I think the change is necessary, even with all these potential problems? Put simply, the school’s calendar right now is broken. We are faced with a painfully short first semester, followed by a ridiculously long second semester. By introducing year-round schooling, with four evenly split terms throughout the year (two in each semester), balance could be restored.
I realize it’s radical to suggest a calendar change. But the calendar we’re using now doesn’t work effectively for learning. It means cramming incredible amounts of information into a time where students are working on college applications and standardized tests, leaving too long a semester for seniors to use, and creating burnout during both semesters – burnout in the first semester because it’s too fast paced, and burnout in the second semester because it’s too slow.
But the advantages go far beyond just restoring balance. Instead of having that awkward point at the beginning of each year, where students are re-taught some material, new material could be tackled straight away. Without a 10 week summer break for students to forget everything they’ve learned, valuable time can be saved in the rest of the year. And for an international school like ours, having four breaks where families could easily fit in a trip abroad, is even more beneficial.
The benefits offered by a year-round schooling calendar are too great to pass up: It would help every aspect of our educational lives. The rest of our education system is progressing to further benefit students. It’s only time our calendar catches up.