Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Brain Drain - Fact or Fiction?

At the end of the school year parents are assulted with the notion of "Summer Brain Drain". The theory is that students "lose: a few months of learning over the summer break and then the schools have to spend a few weeks at the beginning of the year reteaching this lost knowledge.

I contend that if this knowledge is so easily lost then it truely wasn't learned in the first place!

Surely if your child summer consists of sitting in front of the tv or playing video games all summer long then he/she is missing out on the opportunity to do some real learning, the kind that sadly they don't have time for in school because they are focused on things like cursive writing and memorizing facts and figures.

Summer is the perfect time to explore the natural world and learn how things connect to each other. Higher concept learning rather than compartimentlized learning in which kids have no idea how the various concepts relate to each other. For example learning multiplication facts by memorizing instead of using it directly in a project.

Personally I use the summer break to do all sorts of project based learning with my son, we also go on a lot of family trips, sign him up for a few art, nature, sports camps and I make sure there are plenty of trips to the library to spend a few hours of reading in the car or especially on those very hot muggy after noons when you don't want to move.

A few weeks agon I over heard the principal talking about year round school in order to catch up with our European and Asia global neighbors who are passing us in the education front. I cringed at the thought of year round school without the break to do the things school does not. Unless the schools taught an entirely different circulum perhaps spent mostly on the arts and sciences I'm not interested.

The problem of brain drain really is more economic as children in poorer familys do not have the access to the enriching summer camps or even a stay at home parent who can spend time with them and do the project based learning.

"If we can eliminate the summer gap, we can close the longstanding achievement gap between richer and poorer kids," said Richard Allington, a professor of education at the University of Tennessee and past president of the International Reading Association. "Basically, even poor kids grow reading skills at about the same rate as middle-class kids, when they are in school." he said. "Two-thirds of the achievement gap occurs during the summers, not during the school year." - Daniel T. Willingham, a professor of psychology at U-Va. who is an expert in cognition and the application of cognitive principles to K-12 education.

Active Summer, Active Minds

Great Schools - Stop Summer Brain Drain

No comments: