The Blog

As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

MAKING THE SCHOOL BUILDING AN EDUCATIONAL ENTERPRISE

A  twelve-month school year has the potential  for  bringing about  many positive changes in a rigid system.  One  thing  that would  have  to change is the use made of  the  school  building. Other  changes will occur as teachers confer with each other  and swap  ideas.

School  buildings have traditionally  been shut  down during  the summer months.  This is vacation time for the  staff. Normally,  it  is  impossible to work anyhow  in  most  of  these buildings because they lack air-conditioning.  During the  school year,  buildings  are  usually open from  eight  o’clock  in  the morning  to  four o`clock in the afternoon.   All of  this  could change  if schools began to function on a twelve month  schedule. School facilities could be used to their fullest.      School  buildings should be known as  educational  buildings and  be  available for the educational enterprises of  the  whole community.    They should be available to the community from  six o’clock  in the morning to late in the evening, six days  a  week from  January  to December.  This would  require  upgrading  most schools  not  only  by adding air-conditioning but  also  by  reconfiguring space to make it more adaptable for use in  different activities and by various group sizes.  As things now stand,  the buildings are under-utilized.  The equipment and material in most  buildings are used only for short periods of time.  Most material is  discarded because it becomes obsolete rather then  worn  from use.  Equipment is usually kept in individual classrooms and when the teachers are not there, the rooms are locked and the material sits unused.

The  educational building should be available for all  ages. Pre-school  children and children whose parents work should  have access to it as early as seven o’clock in the morning and  should be able to stay until six o’clock at night.  Children who require an  after-school program would remain in the building  under  the supervision of that program’s staff.  Senior citizens could  make use of the building at times when space becomes available.   When senior  citizens  begin coming to the educational  building,  the opportunity  is  available for them to see ways  in  which  their particular  skills  would be helpful to the staff  and  students.

The  offices  of  the  administrators  should  also  be  in   the educational  building.  Sometimes administrators get so far  away from  the students that they lose contact with the real world  in the schools and become less effective.

The  way is also open to reorganize the structure of  classes and  discard grade designations.  Since the school is open twelve months,  it  would no longer be necessary to  have  first  grade, second and so forth.  The present grade system divides time  into blocks  and some children fail because they cannot keep  to  this rigid   pre-determined  schedule.   A  better   system   involves   individualized programs in which children advance when they  have achieved  mastery.  Acknowledgment would, therefore, be  made  of differences in maturation rates, interests, and learning styles.

Teachers will have time to confer  with  each other to consider more flexible  ways  to  use their time and talents.  When teachers are given the  opportunity to communicate with each other over educational issues, there  is the possibility that new and potentially more successful teaching strategies will be initiated.

The  introduction  of  twelve-month  school  year  has  the potential for bringing about major changes in a system that finds it difficult to change.  It will cost money. This the time  for change.  Our children deserve  nothing  less  than total commitment on our part.

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