What to do with an extra day …
April 10, 2009
I generally learn something new every day. In an April 3 Tribune article titled “Whittell considers four-day week,” I learned that 79 percent of George Whittell High School students play at least one sport.
I pondered why the number of students who played sports seemed so much higher than when I was growing up.
Are students more active here than where I was raised? Are students more active now than in the past? Does living at a higher elevation lead to a higher level of participation in youth sports?
As I thought of less and less logical explanations, another fact from the article jumped out at me: The average student who is involved in extracurricular activities misses 35 classes a year. This is the root of Whittell’s problem: Students are very involved with sports and extracurricular activities and it is interfering with their (traditional) education.
While no solution has been found, one is being investigated. Killing a day of school. While this option has been discussed in the workplace, I’d never heard the idea juxtaposed to a high school schedule.
As I moved on with my day, I thought of all the exciting things I would have done if I had an extra day back then. None of them included sports or extracurricular activities. Most involved illicit behavior, the opposite gender and skiing.
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I decided to move this question to the Webosphere. On this week’s tahoedailytribune.com poll, we asked readers “If you were in high school and had a four-day school week, what would you do on the fifth day?”
Almost 40 percent of respondents said “get into trouble,” while 33 percent said “use the time for sports or extracurricular activities.”
If you were a high school student and knew you could miss 35 classes a year if you were willing to play basketball, golf or chess a couple times a week ” would you? Classroom or soccer field? Science lab or ski hill? Seems like an easy decision to me.
However, the real question that came up in my mind: If the school canceled a day ” would students drop sports to have more free time? Is it possible that so many students play sports because it gets them out of a ton of school?
Soccer game or television? Ski racing (supervised) or hanging out in the high-roller park (unsupervised)? Waking up early or sleeping in? Chess club or video games?
Furthermore, is it possible the 33 percent who answered “sports” would decline after seeing the fun that the 40 percent who answered “get into trouble,” was having?
Is it possible this decision could negatively impact education and sports participation?
While I have the highest respect for Principal Sue Shannon and George Whittell High School (and I applaud the creative thinking), this option seems a bit dodgy to me. While I don’t have a child in our school system, I can certainly remember the high school mentality.
Back then, I’m not sure if I learned something on days I wasn’t in school.
” Jonah M. Kessel is the Tribune’s visual director.