Monday, January 14, 2008

Good Ideas for Education

I love when I read something that smacks of intelligent, creative problem-solving! In this case, it was Nancy Kalish's article in the NyTimes "The Early Bird Gets the Bad Grade" about how making teenagers rise at the crack of dawn to get to classes that begin before 8 am hurts them in more ways than one. Kalish points out that teen melatonin levels don't kick in until about 11 pm. So, allowing school to start a little later, allowing kids to stay at school longer (including periods for working on homework) and allowing them to leave the books at school when they return to their families at night is an idea that would have so many benefits it makes me writhe and froth in support. My own memory of that pain and grogginess I used to feel on school mornings or how the activity in my house (especially the t.v.) did not lend itself to quiet study is, certainly, the reason this idea strikes me so forcefully.

The next day, as I was sleepily dog-walking during pre-dawn hours, two school buses filled with dark silhouettes passed, and my heart hurt for those kids. I felt a pang of guilt as I considered how little I had ever done for the inmates in those draconian schools who cannot know how much or how little their psychological, domestic or social conditions are considered (nor do I) when rules and hours are enacted. They can hardly be blamed because they trust us, the adults, to keep their best interest in mind, but I suspect public officials and school administrators hardly have the gumption or the individual power to change such things.

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