Monday, September 28, 2009
Hm, not too sure what to think about this. It seems that President Obama is interested in looking at extending school hours in order to help American kids learn more and be more competitive.
Finland is often touted as the country with the best school system in the world, and hours there are apparently quite short in comparison to many countries. The idea there is that children are only able to concentrate for a certain number of hours a day, so keep the hours low but up the quality, and teach them as much as possible during the limited time allotted.
Also, Barack Obama often brings up countries like Korea as an example of a place where students work hard for good grades but students here are usually so exhausted that they sleep through school and only fully wake up after school is over and it's time to go to the hagwon (cram school), which is more important careerwise than school anyway because those are the schools that prepare students for getting into prestigious universities. That's why the numbers in the article also need to be taken with a grain of salt, because though it says that many other Asian countries have shorter school hours than the US, this probably doesn't include cram schools in the evening.
But then again Finland is quite homogeneous, making this quite easy. The article makes a good point: that it would be a good idea to have schools stay open late and to let kids in on weekends in order to give them a safe place to go. Having a safe place to be at on the weekend can really make a big difference for many, so I'm definitely in favour of that.