Saturday, 12 January 2013

How Much Is Enough?

The holidays are over and everyone is back to school. For some of us it feels great to be back. For others, the holiday seemed all too brief. For the first couple of days back some of us needed to shake off the rust. Others hit the ground running, recharged by the break and working as if they'd never missed a beat. With all these different reactions the question needs to be considered: how much holiday is enough?

This topic was suggested by a follower of this blog who forwarded to me the article Are School Holidays Too Long?.  Written and posted last December by Julie Deneen this posting to inFormEd, offers a balanced look at the pros and cons of both extended and shortened holiday options. It also sheds light on the debates surrounding issues such as the impact holidays have on student learning, whether or not extended school holidays create unrealistic expectations for holidays students might get later in the adult careers and whether homework should be given during holiday breaks.

The traditional school calendar, with its spring, Christmas and summer breaks, grew out of an agrarian context that has largely disappeared. Considerable debate continues over BC legislation aimed at giving school boards the power to establish their own "balanced" school calendars. As outlined last spring in Macleans magazine, the idea of year round schooling has some districts thinking and the BCTF somewhat concerned about the impact an altered school calendar might have.

In Peace River North, our calendar remains pretty traditional. All breaks fall in the traditional seasonal windows . We have flexed a little to ensure that spring break lasts two weeks instead of the more traditional one. The province's addition of a February Family Day holiday helps break up the long stretch between Christmas and Spring break. Calendar review meetings allow stakeholders input as to the timing and length holidays. In the past such meetings have been called every year but there is an appetite in some quarters to find and retain a calendar that works well for the greatest number of people. Regardless of what calendar we adopt, it's certain that just how much holiday is enough will always be a matter of keen interest and concern.

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