The school year is, with the occasional variation (for things like Anzac or Waitangi Day, or the Queen’s birthday), four terms of ten weeks. 40 weeks a year at school or 200 days.
So, by my calculations, that leaves 165 days a year where no learning takes place. (In a leap year, you get a bonus day where you don’t have to learn anything.)
We all know that students only learn things between about 9am and 3pm, Monday to Friday, in four ten-week blocks. They never learn anything else. Anywhere. Ever. If they do just happen to pick up on a thing or two on, say, the weekend or over the Christmas holidays, it would either be by complete accident or something that wasn’t really worth learning in the first place.
Does this sound like sense to you? Of course it’s not! You know that you are always reading things, learning things, asking questions, finding things out. In fact, many of you are doing this more outside the classroom than in it. Too often, students in classrooms are told what to think, write, ask, answer and show rather than follow their own curiosity and understanding.
But schools haven’t worked this out yet.
If they had, why do they insist on being so particular about why students aren’t at school? Absences have to be ‘justified’ and parents have to ask permission to take their children out of school just so they can experience interesting things: concerts, trips to see family, overseas visits, to participate in sports events… The list of possible learning experiences outside school is endless!
It’s time that schools recognised that learning and curiosity extend beyond a neat nine-to-three package. I’m all for parents taking their children out of school so that they can travel, visit, see, taste, and hear new experiences – in fact I would encourage it.
Learning doesn’t just happen sat at desks. In fact learning doesn’t happen sat at desks at all! Learning happens when we get out and explore and experience the real world for ourselves.
Article written by Ben Egerton
This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry
amongst your students:
Critical Thinking Challenges:
- Why do schools (or school principals) complain when students miss school?
- What are the issues for students if their parents do take them out of school?
- Absences have to be ‘justified’. What does this mean?
- Do you agree with this article? Do you think your parents or teachers would agree with this article? Why could (or would) there be a difference of opinion?
- Think about the town or city that you live in. What opportunities are there for visits or experiences that you could suggest to your classmates or parents for you to go and find things out? Perhaps you could plan a day out for your class – and ask your teacher if the class could go. What would they learn? How would it support what you’re doing at school? What are the practical arrangements?
- If you had no school, and you learned everything at home, what would your week look like? Plan a timetable for home study and discuss it with your teacher or classmates.
- Some children learn at home full time. This is called ‘home schooling’ or, sometimes, ‘unschooling’ or ‘non-schooling’. Inquire into this. Apart from being able to stay in bed, what are the pros and cons of not going to school at all?
Have Your Say:
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