Pondersaurus – Summer Vacation is Broken

  • Why are schools out in the summer?
  • Is that a leftover phenom from a time when the country had a lot of agricultural work to do in the summer?
  • If we had school throughout the year, would that help poor families who struggle to pay for day care?
  • Would that allow classrooms to devote less time to playing “catch-up” every fall semester?
  • Could summers be a more “hands-on” version of learning where kernels of apprenticeship be seeded more firmly?
  • Does summer vacation fuel inequality?
  • Would a year-round education program justify a 33% raise in pay for teachers and staff? Asking for a country. Let’s wander the net like vagabonds and see.

The Cons

In countries that have year-round education, teachers get more respect, and kids do better. That sounds amazing. I read an article from Care.com that seems to aggrandize the occasion for…who else…people with money who can afford day care.

Care.com stressed “quality family time” as a con to year-round schooling. If you make minimum wage can you afford a $12/hr sitter? No, you can’t. If you make minimum wage, you are taking an annual “staycation” if anything. I know. I was a service manager for ten years. People just rest at home, try not to die or despair, and try to return to work without hating themselves and their job. Half of them were trying really hard to get better jobs while they get a “paid vacation” on minimum wage. Saving up for candy bars all year.

So, we can assume that the “quality family time” is something that poor people simply never get enough of, if at all.

What happens, then, if you apply the laws of physics to the educational system? I understand that teachers get burned-out, but couldn’t summer school be a more loosely based, localized form of schooling? Just because the school system “doesn’t know what to do” or “doesn’t have programs in place” doesn’t mean that ignorance or apathy benefits children.

First law: In an inertial frame of reference, an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a force.[2][3]

Second law: In an inertial frame of reference, the vector sum of the forces F on an object is equal to the mass m of that object multiplied by the accelerationa of the object: F = ma. (It is assumed here that the mass m is constant – see below.)

Third law: When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.

So, I checked another article at Vittania.org that seemed to suggest that year round schooling was disruptive? That makes zero sense. Zero. If I was going down a slide, how is any moment in the slide disruptive to the descent? That’s basically in violation of Newton’s First Law of motion. I read the article in its entirety and realized that it was just poorly written, and never corrected. But from what I could gather, aside from rich kids missing family vacations where they “get experiences they normally don’t get”, teachers experience burn-out, the kind of burn-out that the rest of the population experience. If I had a Sabbatical every year, I would be able to do things I couldn’t do with kids during the year, like build robots and write books, two things I do without being paid for production. We would value art if our artists were cared for, but in this country, we no longer have a place for story tellers, myth makers, artists, shamans, and wizards. We have poverty. Was a starving artist for much of my life, AMA.

P.E.C.E. was a program I enjoyed in middle school. Every Wednesday you worked in town in the district at one of the businesses who participated. It’s sort of like when Mr. Rogers wanted to know who the hell was in his neighborhood and took the viewers with him to different businesses to see how different things kids used every day was made. Crayons, construction paper, and erasers. It’s very Zen. If you watch the videos, you see that, like the basis of, say, the Unitarian Church, the leader is also a student, also there learning from the experience. The true teacher is EXPERIENCE, and requires trust. Do we truly care about our kids so much that we would ignore them 1/4 of the year? Why should summer school be a “punishment”? What percentage of summer school is given to poor kids? And poor kids experience the world through the hard-scrabble lens of poverty, while rich kids go abroad, go to Disney, and get to play with really cool toys. Poor kids are sort of sad about that. The world is hard, we all say. The world is hard, because it is hard. They are “hep” to the reality.

And when they grow up, these privileged kids with “quality family time” will see the authenticity in their poorer compatriots and cop their look, their attitude, but realize, painfully, perhaps, that they are apart, this divide between the Greasers and the Socs exists, and that it grows every June, and closes like a locker every August. And one day, at graduation, it yawns wide eternal, and you never have to worry about the John Benders of the world and the terrors and monotony of poverty.

The kids who grew up on MRN knew the story of resources they used. That’s why Mr. Rogers got the grant money. He took people through the actual process that gave children material that, now, teachers ask children’s parents to supply…because no one bothers to know where and how things or made, or the true cost or benefit of education. The benefit is the continuity of these resources. That’s why Mr. Rogers was so important. Mr. Rogers was your “neighborhood expression of care, to help the child realize that life is special, and feelings are mentionable and meaningful.”

Are we going to be like our parents? When we grow up, our hearts die? Will we use the summer as a way to bridge the gap between the different places in our community, the different worlds we inhabit though we seemingly live in the same town…we have neighborhoods…which are different places. This neighborhood good that one bad. This one welcoming that one hostile. It’s very mammalian, very crude.

It would be great if…instead of teachers, we put the lessons in the summer in the hands of trades workers, artists, musicians, and social workers…the gluey jobs that hold our communities and the cultural identity of a place together, give it structure. Being a part of a place can mean wearing a professional sports shirt or it could mean being a part of a trade guild, union, art collective, church or civic group. I spent the summer working with kids half my age in a library, a precocious, bright lot given to arcade games and coloring…18 year olds…with untapped potential. I remember working summer jobs in restaurants, bike shops, or going to the Boys Club where I learned to shark pool in 5th grade. That’s rough. That’s not Disney, but, for a few years, I got to experience that world, too. I got to travel, play with new toys hot off trend lists, had robotic sets, rock tumblers, “means of production” and a passport. Then that passed.

It’s not so much what you know as who you know when our social construct is skewed to help the rich, to help gentrify neighborhoods to protect those who do not work (more than half our wealth in the country is generated by people who do not work, so why would they care for the salts of the earth? This is how our whole country works. We need to empower people to have a happier country.

Back to Newton’s Laws

First Law: School Year Round is the easiest path forward as a social group.

First Law: School works better year round. If that means scheduling maintenance projects at weird times, have classes at a local library or community center or rent trailers. Hospitals and government buildings have maintenance issues. So do homes. Grow up. If teachers get burnt out, let them spend the summer exploring new things with the kids like Mr. Rogers did. Bring guests in to show videos about their jobs, their work. Have shop and art classes. Go play. Teachers have first names, sweat, fart, get sleepy and sometimes daydream, too. Get real.

Second Law: Things will not change if people do not get involved. If you want a better chance at competing with countries that have smarter kids in public schools and universities, take away the advantage. It is this difference in school systems which drive our trade deficit. We are in the Age of Right to Repair and distributed networking. We can make SOMETHING work, but it might not be the first thing you think of, nor resemble your initial idea. Look at a Model T and then at a Lambo. Same thing, different stage of development. Things which are engineered to work conform to this basic use of controlled forces. Form follows function. If an engine gets hot, well, put coolant in it. If the water freezes, but anti-freeze in it. If the metal grinds, put oil in it. You don’t stop driving cars because alley cats drink water with anti-freeze in it. You declare all cats witches and move on. When teachers and students are learning something together you get that bond, that connection that is the nucleus of the educational experience. If the teacher never learned anything, how could they be a teacher. Teachers and students learning together speeds the process. Experiment, play, struggle, and report. This is GOLD for social services and educators alike. All data is good data. The push-back against a year-round school system is an important, approaching event that needs unpacking, too. Consider it a reference that MUST be included, otherwise the synthesis of the outcome will fall flat. Teachers and unions need to provide input.

Third Law: As a parent, and poor, I dread summer vacation. I have lost jobs because of it because the job DID NOT OFFSET the cost of day care. I lost a TA position with a NASA Space grant because I couldn’t afford day care. I lost a GRANT because I couldn’t afford day care. I lost an apprenticeship at a manufacturing frm because it didn’t offest the cost of day care. If you work full-time, you should get free day care. Flow their tears the 1%?. Make them pay for it, buncha greedy cry-babies.

Summer Sizzle

Teachers need higher pay and resources. Kids need better education. Parents need to be able to take time off every few months for “quality family time”. Summer vacation is, for many, nothing less than a huge disruption and threat to the family. Because money. Money is the immovable object. Work is the unstoppable force. Make a change. Enjoy the derivatives, plot your curves and whatnot.F

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