There’s a lot of talk about hacking things lately. Modern society coined the term “Life Hack” as a catch-all to describe making our everyday lives easier by utilizing little tricks, such as using nail polish to identify different keys on the same ring or using a muffin tin for condiments at a BBQ to save clean up time. The point being, there are little things here and there that we can use and reuse to make life just little bit easier.
But what about school? Does the act of going to a traditional school for 12+ years lead to a better job, better relationships, and a better life? I pose this question so that we can begin to think about the purpose behind our 6-8 hour school day and whether or not the act of physically going to a school really means a better life outcome.
The American School Day & The Industrialization Era
It’s no secret that the rise of public education and the Industrialization Era went hand-in-hand. “Before the industrial age, provision of formal schooling virtually everywhere was scarce — dependent on tuition and fees, voluntarist, and usually limited to males,” explains Jim Carl, who wrote Industrialization and Public Education: Social Cohesion and Social Stratification.
So when parents began working in the factories instead of on the farms, the school day got longer to accommodate the change in times. Of course, now our work days often exceed the standard 8 hours and our schools have had to accommodate again with school-sponsored or third-party-contracted Before School and After School programming. Our kids are often at school from 7am-6pm, five days a week.
Life takes place at school. But are our children learning more?
Homeschooling’s 3 Hour Day
We’ve got to remember that what we consider traditional schooling is only about 160 years old, with Massachusetts passing the first compulsory school law in 1852 and the rest of the U.S. following soon thereafter. That’s really only about five or six generations.
Before children went off to school, parents and communities formed little schools within the home or neighborhood. Yes, homeschooling was once considered the traditional school format.
Homeschooling today is required by law to have children study for “at least three hours a day for 175 days each calendar year“. Compare this requirement to our public and private school students who get up at 6am and have to be at school for their first period by 7:25 (that’s when my high school began, and everyday it was a struggle to get up and get out the door. I’m still tired!).
So which is better?
Well, as I get older and another birthday rolls around next week, I realize that having more for the sake of more does not equate to better.
A shorter school day may just be the life hack your kid benefits from the most.
Check out this great, little nugget of wisdom from 13 year old Logan LaPlante who discusses his take on HackSchooling
Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student, which includes Academic, Behavior, Special Education Advocacy, and School Placement services. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com.