New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, in his "State of the State" speech in mid-January, touted longer school days and a longer school year. I think he has a good point!
Here's the key issue I'm going to dispel: longer school days are not worse, as long as they increase the length of the right activities.
For example, two of my cousins in the UK go to a school in Surrey called St. John's School, Leatherhead. They get to school around 8:30 in the morning, and get picked up from school at 5:15pm.
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The length of their school day is not adversely affecting their education, in fact I would contend they easily learn more than most American students do in one day. Their day is not filled with more lesson times, in fact their lessons blocks are all 40 minutes long, shorter than many American schools. What they have more of is exercise!
Although I will delve more deeply into St. John's School later, but here's a quote from a current pupil, my cousin Joe:
On Tuesdays and Thursdays after lunch at 2pm, we have a session of games until 3.30. On Tuesdays after games, we have activites which are usually sport, like badminton, squash, fives [A game like squash, plaayed with the hands]. Then on Thursdays after games we have CCF (Combined Cadet Force). Then on Friday, we have another sports session after lessons.
In high school, I got the privilege of helping out at "Back to School Night" where parents go to schools and meet their teachers, progressing through a mock version of their student's day. Each teacher's presentation was shortened to approximately 10 minutes. Boy was I shocked at how many parents had more difficulty sitting still than their children!
No one can sit around for hours and listen to oftentimes boring lessons without being able to get up and exercise. The fact that we force children to is absurd!
My main point: I'm all for longer school days, just with more exercise rather than longer lessons.