Time-Consuming US Schools Vs EURO-ZONE Academic Success Style: Achieving A LOT More in A LOT LESS Time

Time to learn the difference between the words gourmand (glutton) gourmet (connoisseur) and gaspillage (squandering when it comes to education. With Arizona school hours running from 32 to 35 hours a week for Elementary grades, with 30 to 40 minute lunch breaks per day, how does that compare with a rather typical Continental European Elementary School schedule, such as done in say … France

Elementary School EURO-Style

Monday    7:45 am – 11:45 am  (4 hrs)  Lunch 11:45-1:45*  (2 hrs)  1:45 pm – 3:45 pm  (2 hrs)

Tuesday         7:45 am – 11:45 am   (4 hrs)
Wednesday   7:45 am – 11:45 am   (4 hrs)

Thursday  7:45 am – 11:45 am  (4 hrs) Lunch 11:45 – 1:45*  (2 hrs)  1:45 pm – 3:45 pm (2 hrs)

Friday            7:45 am – 11:45 am   (4 hrs)

Total:        24 hours/week    (IF the student goes home for lunch) or   28 hours/week (IF the student stays for the two hour lunch break)

* Lunch. Now technically, Mondays and Thursdays are full days, requiring a two hour lunch break. Many students go home for lunch on those days and return for the afternoon session.

Due to transportation logistics problems, some schools operate what is called a ‘continuing’ day. One typical continuing day schedule for Elementary:   7:30 am to 12:20 pm = 4 h 50 minutes every day = approximately 24 hours a week.

Unsurprisingly, many parents prefer it; drop off- pick up, home for lunch and the rest of the day, and the schools don’t require the expense of a cafeteria. Meals, including packing a mid-morning snack, remain the full responsibility of the families … at home.  Hmm … radical concept … eat at home?

To add to this type of ‘grinding’ schedule, school systems have a one week break every eight weeks.  Plus, July & August: Summer vacation

USA: 32 to 35 hours per week versus 24 hours.  Currently nearly a TEN HOUR difference PER WEEK for Elementary Grades.

The Point?  If ‘hours’ and ‘homework’ and ‘number of computers’ were the keys to academic success, Americans should be #1 worldwide, but by sophomore year High School, most Continental European students no matter the country are running two – three years academically ahead of American students, which should be plain proof that more of hours/money/gadgets are not the key elements which make for academic success. It also means that students in other countries routinely graduate with higher competencies in all subjects than American students graduate with, as Americans never actually catch up.  The fall behind starts early: in First Grade.  Fail to teach SKILLS which are needed for efficiency in school work holds American kids back as kids all over the world steadily move ahead of them even in the first three years of school.

One could suggest copying the six/seven day a week with hours of after school cram-cram-cram of the Chinese and Japanese for only a marginal benefit over the Europeans, but Europeans actually have a life after school. So one has to weigh the marginal increase in exam point scoring benefits versus the human costs of a few extra points to be Number 1 Worldwide in Test Scores at the price of being completely burned-out by age eighteen versus being comfortable/competitive close at Number 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,9 and be relaxed, have a social life, hobbies and be far, far ahead of American students. This isn’t about lunging from one extreme to another, but common sense.

Going by historical examples from previous behaviors of our failing schools, to solve the mess ‘education professionals’ constructed and foisted on everyone, they will propose a wonderful-sounding fix-it like … ‘Common Core Standards’ which doubles down on the same losing model, demand more hours, more money, more homework, more classroom assistants and more computers, plus suggest more dreary standardized tests they can complain about while spending their time figuring out how to cheat to cover the collapsing scores.

Remember, education professionals claiming ‘progressive’ are invoking new ‘Common Core State Standards’ to influence the public to accept, amongst other premises, that they don’t have time for this standard quality work that European schools routinely produce at fewer hours a week starting early in the First Grade with no computers in the classrooms.

(The scale below is Euro composition paper placed directly on US Third Grade composition paper).

Source: Tout Savoir CP, Hatier, Paris ; and U.S. composition sheets: ‘Softschools’ writing worksheets 3rd Grade.

How is more achieved in less time? Achievement rests on two major pillars: Solid, well-ordered CURRICULUM and actual TEACHERS who know their subjects, plus a structure where most of the workload is accomplished in class under teacher-guided supervision, not at home. Work hard during school hours, then play hard. When European students go home, they can relax, it’s their time. They focus better in class because they aren’t burned out by many tedious hours of after-school demands. Logically too, a poor home environment would not have so much of a negative effect on a student’s academic achievement if a student wasn’t required to do any school work after hours in a dysfunctional home.

Americans do have a wonderful sports structure, and worth preserving, so shorter school days and far less homework would actually make the workloads on student athletes and overall athletic participation much less onerous and more accessible to more students. Few student athletic teams, especially during say, Basketball season, would protest a drastic reduction in after-hours homework obligations.

Parents don’t accept having to work past midnight to finish office work, why do they ignore how unfair it is for their children to be exhausted by it, especially given the quality of what’s demanded? Our Arizona second grader was given 400 math problems for homework, due the next day, with no guidance on how to do the calculations – that was the parents’ job. Our high schooler had to write five essays a week and hand them in stapled together. The teacher only graded the top essay, didn’t even look at the others, even though they consumed hours and hours of after school time. That’s child abuse, not a little stay-sharp practice.

If schools expect students to tediously try-and-fail reinvent the wheel, then schools are a waste of time. Education is meant to accelerate learning to empower students with skills to advance in life.

The needs of the students to be effective and competitive in this modern world are not the priorities in our current education system. If they were, our schools would have long ago dumped the experimental ‘progressive’ model and re-installed a proven results education model which is in use around the world today and produces competent students who outperform ours in every measure, with less effort and in less time. It is not necessary to reinvent academic structures which are currently in use for millions of students and actually work. These exist and are readily available.   Being left in ignorance enables the current progressive school failure, and the fail to serve the needs of this nation and its people is unsustainable folly.