After Over a Year of Virtual School, Let’s Work Towards a Better Normal

Opinion

The+pandemic+further+proved+that+the+school+system+does+not+work+for+everyone+and+needs+to+be+fixed.+

Margaret Daniels

The pandemic further proved that the school system does not work for everyone and needs to be fixed.

Dinia Hernandez , Guest Writer

The year 2020 took the world by storm. The pandemic was traumatizing for many people, impacting their mental health. The struggle of dealing with the isolation from not being able to see friends or family. Students unable to get proper education which was reflected by many student’s grades including my own. Being bored from not being able to go out. These are a few reasons why so many  people were aching to go back to normal.  Or so you’d think.  

When the pandemic first hit, many of my peers actually felt relieved to get a break from school. We were happy to get a break from the work and the long hours of school. 

It’s no surprise that kids aren’t too excited about school in general, but when students feel a sense of relief during a pandemic, it makes you wonder what is so bad about school?  

The way school works simply doesn’t work for most students; waking up as early as six o’clock in the morning, sitting for long hours staring up at a teacher or at a screen, and an excessive amount of homework can burn kids out in the long run. 

If you were to ask any student what the worst thing about school was, there’s a chance the first thing they would say is that they hate waking up early in the morning. You could even ask any working adult, and they would probably say the same thing about their job. Waking up early in the morning is truly a dreadful experience for a lot of people, especially if you aren’t a morning person, but have you ever thought about how it affects the way kids learn?

 Studies have shown that early school schedules can undermine the kid’s ability to learn and get along with others. Sleep researchers have found that when kids begin puberty, their biological clock, also called the circadian rhythm shifts. Teenagers’ bodies tell them to stay up later at night and sleep in later in the mornings, but most high schools in the U.S. begin before eight in the morning

So it’s no doubt that 70% of kids don’t get the recommended eight to ten hours of sleep.  Add homework to the equation and you can see how stressful nights can be for kids. Not getting the right amount of sleep each night can lead to depression, engaging in risky behaviors such as drinking or smoking, and poor performance in school. 

After not getting eight to ten hours of sleep, sitting in a classroom for hours listening to a teacher talk is more than just boring. It can cause actual health problems. A study done that focused on girls between the ages of nine and twelve showed that sitting for long hours caused changes in their blood flow and arteries. Changes like these could lead to serious heart problems. Though this study focused on young girls, we have seen similar effects on adults that sit for long periods of time so we can only imagine how this would affect students who have been forced to sit for seven hours a day, five days a week for most of their lives.  You’d think sitting at desks would reduce distractions, but it’s actually less effective than you’d think. Most kids get bored of sitting for hours. Some kids will daydream or fall asleep instead of paying attention. Others will find ways to entertain themselves, which as we’ve seen never goes right for them since these are typically the kids who end up in discipline. 

While the long hours of school already take up most of a kid’s day, the added homework can take up most of a kid’s afternoon, leaving little time for extracurriculars or socializing. They may feel overwhelmed and might not know how to balance all these demands which could lead to depression. In some cases, the stress may not even be worth it. A study done in the Economics of Educational Review has actually shown that homework in subjects like English, science, and history don’t do much for test scores. The only subject in which homework impacted test scores is math. 

Although the way school works does come with a lot of stress and we’ve seen how it can cause health problems, we can all agree that education is still important. 

Kids want an education; they want to learn, so what can schools change to give kids a better education? Changing early school hours could be difficult considering most parents have their work scheduled around their children’s school day, but it would be more beneficial for students if school started later in the morning. It would make kids happier, healthier, and also improve grades and attendance.  

Schools could also give more break time for students. Elementary school students aren’t the only kids that need recess, and a thirty-minute lunch break is simply not enough time. In classrooms, teachers should do more class discussions that get everyone involved without having to single people out. They should be incorporating topics that their students would be interested in into the lesson or have less formal lessons that can be just as stimulating and educational. 

Teachers could give less homework. The National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association have both agreed that typically homework that takes more than ten minutes per grade period is an excessive amount. According to a study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, students who did more than ninety minutes of homework per night did worse on tests than those who did less than ninety minutes of homework

Changing a system that has been running the same way for over 120 years would be a very difficult task but a beneficial one nonetheless.  School shouldn’t feel like a job or a chore. It should be a safe space for students to learn and grow, so let’s do everything in our power to make it feel that way.