Saturday, March 16, 2013

First Post

I named my blog "The Jigsaw of Life" because I view each of our lives as a jigsaw that we put together over our lifespans. We try to piece together our world in ways that makes sense to us. In piecing together our world we interact with many individuals and groups. In addition to individuals, systems and institutions are jigsaws to me that need reviewing and tweaking as individuals and societies evolve over time. When you buy a jigsaw in a store the picture of it on the box tells you what it will look like when you put all the pieces together. Life, however, does not work out that way. Instead of a game designer telling us how our lives and our societies will "look" we decide what works and what does not. In terms of our institutions, one in particular is critical to me:"EDULLL" which stands for "Education and Life Long Learning". I use these terms together because "education" may suggest to some readers just time spent in school whereas I want readers to understand that I mean school and learning over the lifespan.

One part of the USA education system I've found puzzling sine I was a child: summer break for 3 months. For parents (and children) who do not have the money or resources to enroll in any kind of summer camp or childcare it can be a long summer. I've witnessed myself and read complaints from teachers about the brain drain which occurs over the summer so that teachers have to spend time getting their students back to the appropriate level when they return in the fall. I understand from history books that the mostly agricultural society of the 1800s and part of the 1900s benefited from this schedule but we are far removed from that way of life now. I think we need to spread the "3 month summer vacation" over the entire calendar year.  I understand that parents with relatives in another country will want to travel with their children to visit those relatives and very often travel times can last 2 days each way so 1-2 weeks vacation will not suffice.  However 4-6 weeks should work in such situations. For those concerned about "summer camp" and childcare schedules, those providers would have to change their schedules to accommodate a new school schedule. After all, they are in the business of providing a service so they need to accommodate their clients changing needs. I believe that the school year spread over the calendar year follows in line with my interest in life long learning because it mirrors more closely the idea of learning throughout the year. Of course some children do learn over the 3 month summer break but I think the mentality of "3  months off" negatively affects the progress of many students and teachers.