There’s been a recurring trend in the public education system, one that I have not been immune to, whether it’s directly affected me or indirectly affected my family and friends. That trend is to shorten school breaks, due to the shocking speed at which kids lose information. Year round schools are popping up all over the country, and this year, my high school shortened winter break to a week. A week! In the past, we had always had two weeks, the longest break during the school year, except for summer.
Why are breaks so important? Sure, it’s nice to just lounge around and watch Netflix all day, but there are more serious implications than just promoting “laziness." School is stressful, and I don’t care how old you are, it’s stressful. Whether you’re in fifth grade or whether you’re a senior in college, school is hard. You don’t sleep, you are constantly running from place to place, and you never seem to have time for yourself. Your life revolves around school, and that is not good for you, physically and mentally speaking.
If one is in a constant state of stress, it can actually lead to chronic stress, which is extremely unhealthy for the body, especially for adolescents. Chronic stress can cause diseases and even death in extreme cases. One of the best ways to manage stress is to practice stress management. One key component of that is to find time for yourself. If one is always at school, one cannot easily practice necessary stress management skills. I’m not asking that students get months off at a time, but I do think that a week is ridiculous, not only from a student perspective, but also from a teacher perspective.
Teachers work more than the students do, often getting to school earlier and also not getting those nice half-days off, as most of them are teacher institute days (aka meetings upon meetings). I do understand that is not something the school board necessarily wants, and is often mandated by the state. Thus, I turn to the state.
Do you know how many students suffer from a mental illness? According to NAMI, 1 in 5 children ages 13-18 have, or will have, a mental illness. Over 50 percent of all lifetime cases of mental illnesses begin by age 14. Over 50 percent! School, the social relationships it brings (bullying) and stress is a huge factor in mental illnesses. It drives me insane that to simply fulfill a regulation, the state will push students closer to the edge of an uphill battle as well not reward teachers for their hard work. Mental illnesses are real, they exist, and they are affecting so many people in our society. It is crucial that people who suffer from mental illnesses have support and a sense that they are loved. Instead of shortening breaks, we should be lengthening them and as a result lengthening lives, and wouldn’t you say that’s more important than remembering what the Pythagorean Theorem is?
P.S. I’m in my second semester of college, and I have never ever used the Pythagorean Theorem.