Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Should Summer Vacation Be Eliminated?
In a recent Op-Ed in the NY Times ("All Children Should Be Delinquents"), English Professor John Beckman argues that summer is the time for kids to be kids: to play, to socialize, to be delinquents, to have fun, and to even take risks, for it is in pushing the boundaries that we learn our limits and notions of right and wrong.
If Beckman is right, then the move by school districts across the country to shorten summer vacations is a move in the wrong direction. The impulse to do so is motivated by good intentions, however. Numerous studies have shown that there's an inverse relationship between the length of summer vacation and how much knowledge students retain over the break. Students with long summer vacations forget far more than do students with short ones. Thus, there is no question that certain benefits accrue to our kids from shorter summer vacations.
Nevertheless, one cannot help wonder about the hidden costs of not letting our kids have time to simply be kids. I have this image that the next generation will be smarter than previous ones (at least in terms of "book smarts"), but they will not have learned the lessons that one learns when simply hanging out with friends and raising a little Cain. Because they didn't have time to play, they'll be a generation of curmudgeons who can quote the Odyssey but who never learned how to live. Let's hope I'm wrong.