When it comes to summertime, the lengthy summer vacation in North America is a staple during which kids can play freely without the worries of school. It’s ingrained in all our childhood experiences, but some wonder now, “Should we do away with it?”
Summer vacation originated sometime in the 19th century. While a popular story states children would take time off from school to help families on the farm, it turns out this rumour is false. Instead, as cities became denser and more urbanized, more fortunate families consciously decided to pull their children out of school to escape the heat by going to the countryside. The lack of attendance affected the schools, and eventually it was decided that kids needed a brain break anyway, so summer vacation became standard in schools. Like many things, this trend was also picked up on by businesses, and summer vacations became commercialized, which subsequently ingrained them as a part of North American culture.
However, the same excuse today doesn’t quite work anymore—with the invention of air conditioners, the stifling heat can be avoided by investing in these devices and providing them to all schools. That means kids can stay in school longer. But should they?
A lot of popular arguments in favour of eliminating or minimizing summer vacation state that summer vacations can do more harm than good to students. A study states that as much as 30% of knowledge acquired during the school year is forgotten during summer. And while summer camp programs and planned vacations sound like fun, memorable, and valuable experiences, not everyone can afford to make the most of summer. Children relying on after school programming, free meals, and other helpful school-related programs are left with nothing during summer vacation. Besides that, people may also argue that it’s a waste of time. If students were once more inclined to explore and exercise, today’s lack of mobility and reliance on technology for amusement leads many people to believe that summer vacation is an excuse to feed into this unhealthy reliance on technology.
On the other side of things, summer is like a land of infinite opportunities. It can be a time for students to learn more about themselves, experience new hobbies, learn things at their own pace outside of the classroom, focus on artistic endeavours that may not be explored enough at school, prevent burnout, engage socially, and widen their view on the world. Summer school offered exclusively to struggling students can also do a lot in helping others catch up with their peers. While summer does have all this potential, the final result relies heavily on parental guidance and participation as well as a student’s diligence. Summer vacation can be all these wonderful things, but it can also be an enormous and unfortunate waste of time.
In addition to the students’ well-being, it’s important to think of the teachers as well. According to “The Argument for Summer Vacation” by Franchesca Warren, teachers also need a break from school. Firstly, it’s hard work to take care of large classrooms and attend to diverse students’ diverse needs. Anyone would need time to prepare for the next year and recuperate their energy. Additionally, teachers tend to work long hours, starting at 8am and working into the evening on grading papers and essays, and their pay may not necessarily reflect the assistance they provide both as educators and as emotional supporters. If school days are to be increased, a lot of consideration would need to be taken in order to ensure that teachers are treated fairly.
Besides that, it’s difficult to change the school system from a lot of technical perspectives. It would be costly to keep school open for longer and to install air conditioners in all schools, which could negatively influence student fees. Budgeting sacrifices could also be made in order to balance out the increased cost, which can compromise education quality.
It’s possible that there’s an answer that satisfies both parties. Free government-funded summer programs focusing on particular areas of education can ensure that students make the most of their vacation time while also providing working parents with affordable childcare, offering teachers an opportunity to make more money if they want to, or volunteers an opportunity to work on volunteer hours. This way, the schools would not have to go through the arduous task of changing their systems either. What do you think?