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Year Round Schooling

In: Social Issues

Submitted By angela7292000
Words 1151
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Would you mind going to school all year round? When I was in elementary school and middle school in my native country Taiwan, our school systems were based on a schedule that has school throughout most of the calendar year as opposed to having no school in the summer. Most of the time when I began talking to my friends in America about the school system, expressions such as “This is ridiculous!” often came out. However, the term “Year-round schooling” is a misnomer. In fact, we do not attend school “year-round”, we attend approximately the same number of school days per year as traditional schools. Under year-round education programs we attend school for ninety days and go on vacation for thirty days; these vacations usually take places in spring, summer and winter. In this article, I will describe my experiences of attending both year round schools and traditional schools and explore the potential problems associate with both schooling systems as well as the benefits they bring. I received most of my primary and secondary education in Taiwan where we had to go to school year round. When I moved to Maryland in tenth grade, I was surprised that we had almost two and half months of summer vacation every year. During my first year of studying in the United States, I felt exhausted since I was not used to have little or no breaks throughout an academic year. Finally when my first summer vacation in the U.S. came, which I yearned for, I went back to my country for July and August. I had a great time that summer working in a convenience store in Taipei City, where there was no homework to worry about and I was not forced to speak my third language-English. However, when the new semester started, I was back to the U.S. feeling ill-prepared to speak English since I spoke Chinese for an entire two months. I felt like I had to learn English all over again since I became so unfamiliar with the language over the long summer vacation. Further, during the first few weeks of the new semester, I noticed that in my mathematics classes such as Geometry, my teacher had to spend over a week reviewing the materials from Algebra I that we learned during the previous semester. I felt that most of the students in my class vaguely remembered the concepts we learned from Algebra I. However, although I had to spend time readjusting to the English speaking atmosphere and rushing in learning new materials due to summer learning lost, it was then I realized that that summer was the first time I was able to attain a job. My manager told me that she hired me because I could work for an entire summer while my friends in Taiwan, who only had vacation for 30 days, could not work for a long term. From my experience I feel that having longer vacations decreased my retention rates but it also gave me more opportunities to participate in other activities rather than solely focusing on my studies. Sacrificing learning time seems necessary when it comes to attaining a job in a summer from my experience. Nevertheless, is it really the case? Is there a way to create a win-win situation in which students under year round and traditional school system can have equal opportunity in participating in non-school related activities? For my second summer vacation in the U.S., I had to attend summer school to take English 10 so that I could graduate on time. Attending summer school in Maryland reminded me of what it felt like to go to school year round. I remember my family usually went on vacations whenever we are out of school. Because we had more frequent breaks, we went on more vacations per year when we lived in Taiwan than we do in the U.S. now. Also, we had a greater variety of vacation spots to choose from. Since we had breaks in spring, summer and winter, we could decide where we wanted to go in different seasons. For example, in spring we usually went mountain climbing, while in summer when the temperature was high we would travel to another country where it was cooler, and in winter we would probably go skiing or plan our vacation in somewhere warmer. On the other hand, we usually only go on one vacation each year in the U.S. Since we only have vacation in the summer, we usually just go to places like beaches, resorts, or amusement parks to escape the sweltering summers here in the U.S.; there is really not that much variety of vacation types we can choose from. However, I also found that with shorter breaks such as in Taiwan, it was harder for me to fully participate in activities outside the school. For instance, I joined a badminton camp when I was in middle school. It was only for one and half week since the students were out of school only for thirty days. Within such a short time period, I felt I did not have enough time to get to know every person in my group, in fact, I barely remembered anybody’s name when the camp was over. Also, I tried to take swimming lessons outside the school that summer, but then I found it was impossible since the schedule conflicted with that of the badminton camp. In the end I could only choose one activity to participate in with devotion that summer. From my experience, it seems that shorter and more frequent breaks like those in Taiwan provide students and their family wider choices of vacations than traditional schools do, but at the same time these short breaks also seems to decrease the chance for students to fully participate in extracurricular activities. Nevertheless, just because I feel this way does not mean it holds true for every circumstances. After all, my experience is just one of the many experiences that people have with year round schools. I began to wonder whether there is a way to keep the benefits of both traditional and year round school system. In other words, is there any way that can ensure the quality of both family vacations and extracurricular activities under either schooling system? Although I have the experience of attending both year round and traditional schools, it is still difficult for me to judge which schooling system provides a better option that fits every student’s, every teacher’s, or every parent’s needs. Overall, do the benefits that one schooling system brings outweigh the benefits the other brings? Base on the experience of teachers, do you think either one of them provide a feasible plan to our current education system? (I thank Neil and Chris for their feedback on earlier versions of this paper.)

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