Summer holidays are too long.

There. I’ve said it. Six weeks without school, without constructive educational activities, without purpose and structure to each day, is too long.

The whole idea of the summer holiday is old-fashioned and out of date. Summer holidays were invented so children could help with the harvest – collect in wheat, corn, apples, pick grapes off the vine, all that sort of thing. Summer holidays weren’t really holidays at all, but an opportunity to do useful work outside the classroom

In these modern, digital, sleek and efficient times we need what happens in school to reflect what happens in the real world. No longer are the majority of students required to help on the farm, so they should be in the classroom instead – making themselves useful. Learning!

Of course, everyone needs a bit of a break from time to time. Students and teachers need an opportunity to charge the batteries and get a change of scenery, perhaps go and visit places in New Zealand or overseas. But not for SIX WEEKS!!! Who – apart from teachers – in the real world gets six weeks’ holiday (and then more at the end of each term?!). If schools are to reflect the real world, and students taught to be citizens in the real world, then giving them a six week holiday isn’t part of the plan…

Why? Here’s a short list of reasons why long summer holidays are more of a problem than they are useful: students get bored, and so they spend too much time on computers or watching television; they are very expensive – parents or caregivers have to take time off work, or pay for holiday programmes or care for children; travel companies put the prices up too much for flights and holiday travel; students forget too much between one term and the next over the summer; it’s too long between seeing friends…

Ask someone what they did with their six weeks and I guarantee they won’t remember!

I could go on…

Want me to think of as long a list of reasons why summer holidays are good? I don’t think I can. If you could show me that long summers are constructive, that students continue to learn, help out at home or make progress in their studies I might be persuaded otherwise.

But six weeks of putting your feet up just doesn’t do anyone any good.

[colored_box color=”green”]This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry
amongst your students:[/colored_box] 

[colored_box color=”yellow”]Critical Thinking Challenges:

1. “Students often forget too much over the summer holidays”. Give reasons why you think this statement is either true or false.

2. Long summer holidays were traditionally used so school students could help with the harvest. What might some of the issues be if thousands of school students in the 21st century used summer holidays to work. What would the pros and cons be?


[colored_box color=”green”]Practical Tasks:

1. How did you spend your summer? Draw up a diary or calendar and see if you can fill in the blanks? What were the memorable moments? What were the low points? Which bits were exciting and which bits boring? Compare your calendar with a classmate. Did you or your classmate make the most of the summer? What might you have done to make more of your six weeks off?

2. What do other countries do for their summer holidays? Ask family, friends or go online to research how school years work overseas. Which do you think are best and why?

3. Re-read the article above and then write your own article in support of a long summer holiday.


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