Thursday, September 21, 2006

How much time is enough time in class?

Tuesday's Cincinnati Enquirer explores the subject of hours in class and number of school days in "Schools Taking Longer Look at Extended Classroom Time."

According to the article, "Demands for more tests and more academic rigor are spurring schools to consider something that makes most students shudder: more time in class."

Another potential reason for the increase: US schools currently lag behind many other countries in terms of days of instruction, with an average of about 180 instructional days per year. Other countries such as Australia, Japan, Denmark and the Netherlands hit 200 or more. (JIS is close to the US average, with a total of 176 instructional days on the calendar this year.)

(Click here for UNESCO's most recent report on the statutory number of teaching hours and weeks per year in countries around the world. And here's a Word document from the Education Commission of the States, which lists each state's school-year requirements. If your kids have gone to school in the US, see where your state falls.)
"We're looking around the world and saying: 'Holy smokes!' There's other societies that are much more dedicated to creating knowledgeable workers of the future," said Charlie Kyte, director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators."
The Enquirer article points out that schools are under pressure to up the academic ante, while at the same time they struggle to provide a well-rounded program that includes classes in arts and physical education. Additionally, educators (and parents) are concerned about helping students maintain a healthy, balanced life. It's tough.

I'd argue that what's more important than the number of school days or hours is how those days and hours are spent. Does the way the school day is structured make sense? Are "instructional days" really instructional days that involve actual learning? How much time each day are students actively engaged in a curriculum that is both content- and skill-rich?

It's a sensitive, complicated topic, but one worth examining in depth at any school.


At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Cheryl, Do you know how many instructional days JIS has? And do these days include all the days like UN Week, Indonesian Day, etc....where very little student/teacher contact occurs?

At 9:13 PM, Blogger Cheryl van Tilburg said...

Hello Anonymous! JIS has 176 instructional days in the current school year -- and judging by the calendar the school provided in the first Thursday Bulletin of the year, that includes all days the kids are at school, including the special days you mention.

I think what you're really asking is "are each of those days used to their optimum potential?" That's a serious question for JIS (and any other school). Honestly, I don't know the answer.

Thanks for your comment.


Post a Comment

<< Home