What’s Wrong With Our Schools (Part 1): The Agrarian Calendar

June 26, 2012

In the US, the school year is based on the premise that students study in the winter and help farm in the summer.  Duhhh! That may have been true in the past, but today most students don’t live on farms anymore…and farms aren’t what they used to be (smile).


If you search for “longer school days” you will see what the discussion is about.  Of course, longer school days in bad/​​poor schools just makes more bad/​​poor schooling.  But modern educators are realizing there is much more to learn and to do than can be done in a factory-model, agrarian-calendar school year.  That school year makes no sense today!

As I blogged here on August 2, 2011, some schools are starting to extend the school year, including the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  I also took up some of the issues related to extending the school year.  As I said there, extended calendars in poorly-run “no fun” schools makes no sense. Schools where students are having fun learning and where learning is an adventure should be open longer.  But no students should be in school earning seat time – that’s more than old school!  Students should only be in school as long as needed to become proficient in the subjects they are studying and to meet graduation requirements.  If they need more time – great!  If they get done sooner and can get on with their lives – that’s  even better!

In Off The Clock:  Moving Education from TIME to COMPETENCY, the authors write:

“Let’s start with the message that we send to our students when we start the school year around the beginning of September and end it in May or June.  Do we inadvertently communicate that learning begins at the start of the school year and ends at the end of it?  We communicate that summer is not for learning, that is, unless you’ve done a bad job during the school year and have to endure summer school.”

Last September, the Washington Times reported:

“Students may not want to hear it, but schools that have experimented with extra periods and longer school years report higher graduation rates and higher test scores, according to a new report from the National Center on Time and Learning, a Boston-based nonprofit advocacy group.”


At the National Center on Time and Learning site, they write:

“Unfortunately, our antiquated school calendar is too limiting to provide millions of children with the breadth and depth of educational experiences they will need to thrive.  But schools that have broken from the bounds of the conventional calendar and schedule offer promising alternatives to the status quo. [The Center] has documented the practices of high-performing, high-poverty schools that have expanded time in order to…

 Raise achievement…

 Enrich education…

 Empower teachers”

So now you know.  What’s wrong with our schools?  The agrarian school year is just one of the flawed educational bricks in the out-moded factory model school.  Stay tuned to learn more about the bricks!

Posted by marks on Tuesday June 26, 2012 at 03:14PM

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