The Real Reason Why Children Get the Summer Off of School

The Real Reason Why Children Get the Summer Off of School


The Real Reason Why Children Get the Summer
Off of School The commonly touted explanation for students
having summers off from school dates back to a time when the United States’ economy
relied heavily on agriculture in order to survive. Students needed to leave school in
the summer in order to work on the farm alongside their families. The U.S. is no longer the
agrarian nation that it once was, so why do students still get the summer off from school? Well, that is because the idea that the modern
school year is based off of one where students needed to work on the farm during the summer
is false. The majority of farming work occurs in either
the spring or fall, so schools in rural parts of the United States during and before the
early part of the 19th century typically only held classes during the winter and summer
months. This allowed students time off to help plant in the spring and harvest and sell
crops in the fall, and then they attended classes when their families had less of a
need for them to work. All in all, students in rural schools attended between five and
six months of school per year. On the other hand, schools serving students
in urban areas tended to remained open all year with short breaks between academic quarters.
But most states did not require students to attend school until the 1870s, so classes
often suffered from poor attendance. Some school officials in Brooklyn reported that
only about half of their students attended at least six months of classes during 1850. A number of factors, such as practicality
and parent wishes, transformed those two different types of school years into the school year
of today. Education reformers encouraged both urban and rural schools to adopt a standardized
school year in order to get students across the country on the same school schedule. This
would make distributing standardized tests and selling textbooks easier, among other
things. But a standardized school year meant that rural and urban school officials needed
to compromise on when to hold classes. At this point it was generally thought that
holding classes throughout the year could be detrimental to students’ health, so the
schools needed to decide on when to allow students a break from classes. The break would
also give teachers time to continue their own education and get ready for the new school
year. Summer became a natural choice for a term
away from school. Rural schools tended to be taught by teenage girls in their mid- to
late-teens in the summer, leading to a weaker term than in the winter when students learned
under older and more experienced schoolmasters. Summer also worked for urban schools due to
the lack of air conditioning and the desires of upper class and wealthy families to vacation
during those hot months. The added worry of a school that was both hot and crowded potentially
spreading a disease also added to the decision to give students summers off from school. Today, there is a movement among some educators
and politicians to restructure the school year so that students attend classes throughout
the year. The claim is that getting rid of summer vacation would help students to perform
on the same academic level as students from other countries by allowing for more hours
of instruction. However, when the numbers are crunched, American students appear to
be spending the same amount of time learning per year as students elsewhere in the world,
at least in classes. For instance, students from Massachusetts, New York, California,
Florida, and Texas all spend 900 hours per year in school. Comparatively, students in
India receive between 800 and 900 hours of in-school education per year, while students
in China receive 900 hours. Also contrary to the idea that more hours are the answer,
one of the highest rated education systems in the world, Finland, only has their students
averaging about 608 hours of in-class instruction per year. As you might have guessed from this, as with
just about everything, the issues at hand resists such simplistic explanations and solutions.
There is even a strong argument that students in the U.S., on the whole, aren’t nearly
as far behind as is often claimed, though of course there’s always vast room for improvement. For instance, the Programme for International
Student Assessment (PISA) assesses the competencies of 15-year-olds in 65 countries and economies,
including in math. For 2012, the country/economy with the highest scores in math was Shanghai-China,
which was closely followed by Singapore, Hong Kong-China, Chinese Taipei and South Korea.
Notably, Canada ranked 13th, Australia 19th, Ireland 20th and the United Kingdom 26th. The United States’ kids ranked 36th. In
fact, according to PISA, the performance of one of the United States’ highest-scoring
states, Massachusetts, was so low, it was as if those students had two fewer years of
mathematical education than the students in Shanghai-China. PISA also noted that although
the U.S. spends more per student than most countries, this doesn’t translate into performance.
In 2012, per-student spending in the U.S. was listed at $115,000, while in the Slovak
Republic, a country that performed at the same level, they spend only $53,000 per student. However, the PISA’s results are drastically
over simplified. For instance, as noted in a report by Dr. Martin Carnoy of Stanford
and Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute, American students actually perform
better than the much higher ranked Finland in algebra in general, but worse in fractions.
More importantly, when you normalize the results between the countries, adjusting for the relative
poverty of the students taking the PISA tests, the U.S performs significantly better, ranking
6th in reading and 13th in mathematics, a drastic jump in both categories. Dr. Carnoy and Rothstein further note in their
report What Do International Tests Really Show About U.S. Student Performance? that
when you divide the kids based on family wealth, the actual gap in performance isn’t so stark
between any country, with a not insignificant portion of the ultimate ranking of each nation
being based on how many impoverished vs. middle class vs. wealthy students are taking the
tests. For reference, about 40% of the schools the PISA used in the U.S.’s sample had more
than 50% of their students eligible for free lunch. So what about switching to year round schooling
with extra hours spent in the classroom? Will it help? After all, even if the U.S. isn’t
so far behind as is often claimed, that doesn’t mean improvements shouldn’t be sought. Year round schooling has been tried several
times in the last few decades in the U.S., such as efforts in Texas in the 1990s (peaking
at about 400 year-round schools) and California in the 1980s (peaking at well over 500 schools
on this type of schedule). The results were underwhelming. Test scores did not improve,
attendance problems were an issue at times (with families still taking vacations, but
now with students taking off school at random times), and teachers themselves were burning
out (at a faster rate than normal) with little spare time to pursue required continuing education.
Beyond the extra training outside of work hours (along with grading, course planning,
corresponding with parents, etc. that also generally doesn’t fall within paid hours),
as one educator, Heather Wolpert-Gawron, noted, “Adult humans aren’t built to spend their
days with hundreds of children each day. It takes a lot out of an adult to have their
antennae up so high, so often, and so consistently.” Beyond the teachers (and presumably students),
parents also tended not to like the switch, due to cutting into family life and making
vacations difficult to manage. In the end, in the late 1980s when California schools
that had made the switch were given the option to return to a more traditional “summer
off” schedule, 543 of 544 year-round schools chose to do so.

100 thoughts on “The Real Reason Why Children Get the Summer Off of School

  1. I'd propose a system where the younger you are, the more schooling you get. You can re-work the current system for K – 8 (elementary through middle school) where they stay in the current system but the summer break (as well as the rest of breaks) are more evenly distributed throughout the year and coinciding with major holidays. Studies shows that the longer the break, the less education kids retain (without tutoring). This would also help for kids who are in the "free lunch" systems, for whom these are a primary source of regular meals and often go home to places with parents unable to provide a caregiver when the kids are off.
    For kids in high school, the system would allow for more time off from actual school work for work programs and apprenticeships where kids can focus more on jobs and building actual trade skills instead of mindless facts, because, let's face it, if you don't do well in school by this point, you're not going to get anything done, now, and you might as well get a skill that can translate to work to earn money before Mom and Dad can toss you out on your ear. For kids with more academic goals, the schools can offer more things like PSEO (Post-Secondary Education Option), where teens can get college credit at community colleges while also earning credit in high school…and get more hours in a job and earn money, as well.

  2. The most confusing thing is that US school years don't match up with calendar years.
    Here in Australia School Starts about February, and ends in December, with starting later and finishing earlier occurring as you get into Grade 10, 11, 12.
    It's much easier to manage and remember schooling years, as they start and end just like Calendar years.
    I did my final year of schooling, Grade 12, in 2011.

  3. Kids need time outside the classroom. You can't teach some stuff in school nearly as well as kids can find out by themselves outside the classroom. And kids are getting less and less time spent outside in the open air, less time in unstructured play. Unstructured play is a break for both students and teachers, from the intense instruction, standing on feet all day, from sitting without moving all day, and to attend to bathroom needs. Standing for six hours without a pee break is unconscionable.

  4. Yyyyyyyeeeeaaahhhhh… Scheduling isn't the issue here. The way the time is spent is the issue. Let's be honest, elementary school kids shouldn't be experiencing test anxiety. Actually, no one should be experiencing test anxiety. This is what an overabundance of standardized testing does. It's a slow-acting lethal formula, and it's doing its worst.

  5. On that note, all private schools should be stopped. Let the rich send their kids to state run schools and watch the next generation of elites turn in to sane humans. that'd be an education reform to change the world.

  6. 7:23 i fully agree with this i cant stand being around noisy rude filthy unhygenic brats even for a minute!

    I shiver in terror at the memeories of being surrounded by those disgusting kicking yelling horrors when i ride the subway…

    Truely humanity must find another means to procreate… the sex is nice but the results are truely disgusting and horrible!

    frankly i can only feel profound sympathy for Roaldals witches… clearly turning these jibbering horrors into mice is a major upgrade!

  7. Year around was amazing for me(grades 4th-12 in southern california). No summer slide where you forgot how to do long division or something fairly technical. Another vacation just 3 months after returning to look forward to and not getting bored with 3 months of being a kid with no money or transportation generally. I'm amazed to hear anyone would ever go back to the traditional schedule

  8. After a year who knows if anyone will read this but the idea of year round school isn't so bad. Teachers spend at least the first 6 weeks of the school year on refreshing the students about what they learned last year. A huge brain drain occurs over the summer. You still get a summer break of about 6 weeks, not 3 months. 3 months is too long.

  9. My kids were in what was called " year round school" for a few years when we lived in KY and they got out of school for what felt as more than they had previously when it wasn't year round and still got 2 months off for summer. I believe the cost of running a school and heating and cooling it is why it wasn't truly year round. We lived out in the country and the school they went to was kind of small but also really good in winning awards. But while my gifted daughter sailed through school effortlessly even in her advanced classes, my son, who isn't learning impaired but does learn much differently than most other kids, fell behind but they passed him through anyway, not knowing how to deal with him and to this day at 13 doesn't know the basics to math and thus can't grasp an understanding of the harder stuff. The school passed him through preschool all the way to 4th grade without even knowing the difference between a dime and a nickel, which astounded us when we found this out a few years ago. We moved states to TN to a school that was supposed to be very good in order to help him but to no avail. He shows Autistic traits but very high functioning and is a brilliant artist. Most things he learns, he learns from me and not school. I feel that the 3 month break each summer can stunt many children if they don't continue studies outside of school and keep their minds in a learning framework.

  10. Any American my age, which I have encountered during my lifetime, has struck me as a moron. Thus I conclude, that American students are stupid.

  11. The time you go to school means nothing if you have teachers that just complain how they get less money than other jobs. We don’t need more school time, we need to bump teachers who only teach for money.

  12. When they use countries that use America a lot if you could answer my question why do people use America as their sounding board for certain things like schools and others?

  13. My state Michigan is pretty low on the rankings for best education for a state. Detroit has an awful schooling system that destroyed our ranking. I go to a charter school called Achieve Charter Academy that is a k-8 school. We are ranked first in state for both middle and elementary schools. We average to be about a year and a half a head of our local public schools ( who also happen to be one of the best districts in state). The advanced math class is an additional 1.5 years ahead of that. Not to mention that my 6th grade Curriculum is more advanced than the junior year at a neighboring district. Relevance? We are an NHA school so they take 10% of funds to our school to build new schools. We don’t have the same budget but we still have many sports for both genders and 24 chrome books a grade. At what cost? Teacher’s salary. Our teachers suffer the loss but for a safer and easier work environment, No Retirement.

  14. Just because there's no formal education during the summer doesn't mean that kids stop learning. I had some of my most valuable experiences during the summer, when I was shadowing people, interning, working on projects, and traveling.

  15. A huge issue with my school (& most if not all public schools in Australia) was what was called ‘teaching to the test’ – the short explanation is that our school was forced (through funding) to train us how to make good test scores, at the direct expense of our teachers being rendered unable to actually teach. The school’s funding was tied to how well the students scored on tests/exams, which meant that teachers had to spend a lot of time teaching us how to pass tests/exams rather than teaching the actual subjects (& yes, they are very different things) – each school year the time spent teaching to the test increased, until well over half of my final year was consumed by practice exams & being taught the various technical aspects of figuring out what the examiners were looking for & giving it to them. The end result is that while I couldn’t tell you much of anything about any of my core subjects, if you hand me a test on damn-near anything other than maths or languages I don’t speak & I’d get not far under a passing grade first time – give me a weekend with that year’s textbook & I’d knock it out of the park, hell, that’s how I passed all but one of my first-year university exams even after missing roughly 80% of lectures/classes due to health issues (the exception being when I had to dissect a cockroach, & thus couldn’t get around the technical instruction I’d missed). It’s a horrendous system that cripples students who can’t afford private teaching, & thoroughly destroys whatever desire the students may have had to learn, & it grinds to dust any passion, desire & even capacity that teachers have for teaching, leading to burnt-out teachers who then either disconnect entirely as a defence mechanism or slowly become bitter, resentful & vindictive. While a student I saw good teachers & students break completely under the pressure of the constant push for better scores at all costs, sometimes with tragic results. It’s obscene, & ultimately tests/exams (as they exist currently) don’t actually gauge how much a student has learnt, just how good they are at decoding what the examiner wants in a set timeframe.

  16. explanation for why summer was chosen was short and not detailed enough. in particular, why were summer classes taught by teenagers and winter classes by adults?

  17. I used to go to a year-round school in Chico California.
    It fuckin sucked.

    They also had a weird thing where your class periods would shift each day of the week. PE 2nd period on Monday, PE 3rd period on Tuesday, and so on

    Very not good

  18. It’s just a stupid outdated practice. Adults don’t get months off from work, unless they happen to be school teachers. School should be about helping prepare kids for adulthood,

  19. Other countries don't have the same "safety net" that America does. We're the base that every other country is compared to either by them or is doing the comparing. Other countries that "do better" or more of their kids get into our colleges don't help or count their kids in the number of people who go to school. Most of the ones who fail are left to their own devices and forgotten. Not counted towards those who succeed. Also in addition to my prior point I propose my next point sternly… Fuck those guys who say we need full year of school. They probably haven't been in school for close to a century and even then probably didn't have to deal with the same learning curve/stress we do/did. If they had to deal with the same amount of bulling even half of children do they would have unanimously voted to cancel school forever and burn the remaining structures to the ground.

  20. I'm all for year-round schooling. Why, I'm out of school……fuck kids. Really though, when I finally get a break from working my ass off it kind of pisses me off just seeing kids. I do grocery shopping on my days off during the day 'cause those cookie peddlers are out in full force right now. I don't need their fucking cookies. I make 1 or 2 donations. They should have a pin that I can wear that signifies to the rest of their hive that I have already capitulated and am to be left alone.

  21. 4:27 not sure what's up with that assessment because 1) 3 of the top 4 are "China" Hong Kong still has democratic leadership but is legally part of China, just more of a external territory, 2) Chinese Taipei is just Taiwan, Chinese Taipei is the name mainland China gave Taiwan. To me it seems to be biased against China.

  22. I hate that so much material is shoved at us all for the sake of standardized tests. Well, I say this like I'm still in school; I graduated in '08. But my frustration at it has never abated. Math is the biggest culprit of this, I feel, and as one who has a stronger affinity with English and writing, moving so swiftly made me constantly fall behind. Part of that is of course my own fault since I can't expect everyone to slow down just because I'm not strong with math. But it'd be nice to spend more than a day learning a part of a lesson before moving on. Usually, chapters were broken up into 5 lessons per chapter and every day, you're learning a new lesson so that by the end of the week, you'll have studied the entire chapter. It DOES make sense…but I just never could keep up at that galloping pace. Maybe once I return to college in a year or two, the expanse of the internet will help a little.

  23. As much as I know all the kids in the world get the summer off. I'm not sure it's something typical for the US. I grew up no where near the United States and had summer off.

  24. so basically you get results that your students are terrible, so you have to calculate in, that lot of people are poor, so you can compete with the world? rofl.. like we dont have poor kids in our country..

  25. I started getting every 9 weeks of school we had 2 weeks off my first year of high school i didnt mind it I just felt bad for the little kids in kindergarten because they never got the time off to be little kids. Their summers are spent behind a desk.

  26. school systems in the US- require 180 days a year. add in weekends, and holidays ( and in the northern US, " snow days", school days average about 9 months. A year round school is 3 trimesters of 60 days required to complete ONE year, OH, and get your facts straight, bloody Simon Whistler (twist the truth for a share, you sodding arse)

  27. Tbh summer is boring for me all i do is sleep,eat,drink,play my electronics,sometimes clean😢😢

  28. Why not go to school year round starting at ~6 yrs old (1st grade) and be done in 10 years instead of 12 at ~16?

  29. Just stop making me wake up at 6 in the morning than telling me to gtfo at the hottest time of day. I would love school if that shit just started fucking later. There is no need for anyone to wake up that early in the morning 5 days a week. And then, we come to school and the teachers start complaining how nobody is paying attention. Uhh….No shit? We are still half asleep.

  30. The point of getting rid of summer isn’t to add more hours in class. It’s to space out our breaks across the year. Well still spend the same amount of time in class but we’ll retain the information better because there is less of a break

  31. Ready to watch another fun fact video? Then check out this video and find out Why School Buses Are Yellow and Why They Don’t Typically Have Seatbelts:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThBAFND05ds

  32. Golly gee I just know better then just click on your videos you should try for something everybody doesn't already know

  33. Its cuz in the us all we are taught is how to test for the test we are taking, not how to learn real stuff. Our education over here needs a redo. A year rpund school year os a great idea, i knew of a school in Florida that had a month off for xmas and new year i believe it for july 4th it was 2 weeks or a month then another 2 weeks for Thanksgiving and 2 weeks for easter.

  34. Actually, this isn't true, as farmers plant in the spring and harvest in the fall. The reason summer vacation exists is because rich families wanted their kids to not miss school, so eventually, the country agreed to close down schools for the summer.

  35. But Simon, Japan have schools 11 months a year and they have one of the highest education in the world. Why did you forget this and can you do a video on this?

  36. When you have to argue this and that to try to make the US look good, it doesn't make the US look good. Want to say that's partly because so many kids are poor? Wow. It doesn't matter that they're poor when it comes to tests. In the adult world, employers aren't going to be asking about family income growing up, and giving a handicap to those who came from poor households. No matter how you try to justify it, the US is still farther behind than should be acceptable. And now with Common Core, things that were considered second grade when we were kids is now considered to be fourth grade. When you look at high-performing American students against the high-performing students of other countries, and low-performing against the same, America's kids really aren't doing so hot, and in fact, between 2005 and 2015, the performance of American schools has fallen. We already weren't doing well in 2005.

  37. heh when i started school i remember is being year round…my siblings and i all had different classes in different times of the year. I remember being off during the fall months year early on…it didnt last…

  38. Basically 8 minutes of blowing up smoke the US School System's arse. No, education in the USA is really fucked. How about the statistics that prove that college students party more each week than they actually sit down and study? Like. For real.

  39. So who was the ONE school who decided to stay a year round school.. and what was the reasoning.. that sounds insane. School's that aren't year round, are already fucking their students by having as many days of school as they do.

  40. Man, I don't need to be told to like and subscribe, let alone twice in succession, if I want to like and subscribe -_-

  41. I wonder if they only compared asian students in Massachusetts to the students in Shanghai if there would be such a discrepancy. I bet not.

  42. The real reason Finland, China and other countries are better than the US in school is because of the their races are less mixed. They don't have suburban kids going to school with ghetto kids who bring all their family and street problems to school with them. When you have so many kids together of mixed cultures it cause the whole system to suffer. I'm not being racist. It's a fact. How many non Chinese kids are in an average Chinese school? How many non natural born Finish kids go to schools in Finland? How many non Japanese kids go to Japanese schools? That idiot Michael Moore did a documentary on this subject if you dont believe me.

  43. Who was the 1 school of the 544 that did not go back to the "regular" school year? and are they still using that full year schedule?

  44. Quality over Quantity… What a concept, I mean really. It's not like any of this is new, and its not like people don't know what the issues are. America doesn't compare to those countries in the way they think they do or don't because we're different. Different cultures, different emphasis, and most important a different concept of what is important for education and what isn't as important. Not just America in that case by the way. The countries that performed better have a strong community culture that advocates working hard for oneself and ones family and nation, give or take. However, America has a strong sense of not leaving children behind educationally, though that is a much needed work in progress, so how does that compare to the others when testing? How many of the children tested are from what backgrounds and located where? Rural, Urban, boonies, farmer communities? I guarantee you test groups from each nation from similar areas and those numbers are gonna be all over the place.

  45. It doesn't help that in the US school standards are constantly being lowered, because "no one gets left behind".
    When no one gets left behind, everyone gets left behind.

  46. It's not the hours teaching that counts it's the quality of teaching that counts . A teacher that can enthuse and interests the students , that's what really counts . That is the real skill in teaching !

  47. Becuz school is litteraly prison
    Periods – Prison Periods
    Recess – Free Time
    Lunch – (Well duh)
    Bus – Prison Transport
    Homeroom – (If so, rehab)

    That's why, we need a break from prison.

  48. Your content is in inaccurate. Wheat harvest starts at the end of June and bailing hay goes on for the entire summer. We definitely need summers off.

  49. Just like the difference between urban and rural schools. Money and time are not the most important. It’s about how it’s taught and the willingness of students to learn. For years K-7 I always came home and answered “it sucked” to how was school. It wasn’t until the 8th grade that I realized I enjoyed school.

  50. One big reason that U.S. kids don't have such good math learning is that they are too burdened with other subjects (history, geography, science/chemistry, physics, etc.) that they will seldom be likely to actually use in their future lives, unlike math, reading, writing, etc., and so they have less time/energy to concentrate on learning math so well as they should.

  51. 5:30 Exactly — who cares about algebra, anyway? Nobody uses it much in everyday life, but fractions are super-important to know how to perform. That's what I'm saying in my previous comment — our educational priorities are way off, if we don't even adequately teach our kids "basic" stuff like fractions and multiplication.

  52. Yet somehow an avarage American can't tell what are the oceans of Earth, let alone having a president who thinks Moon is a part of Mars. ~ Welcome to 2019

  53. Wow Simon you looked so different back then! I thought this was a different person for a person until I heard you talk, lol.

  54. These results were PRE Betsy DeVoss [sp?] – I'm guessing they will tank significantly over the coming years

  55. Why do social economics matter? School should be equal to all, the test should not reflect who has more money. So stating rich kids don't do as bad does NOT help Americas case at all! D=
    If anything that makes you look worse! Cause then poor kids would score even lower on the national when the rich kids are not included. Where I'm from (Norway) school is equal, and private schools are almost non existent. Homework is on the way to be abolished (only reading practice) as they have found more is less; the brain gets overloaded.

  56. Trying to defend the US by saying they only score so low because of how many poor kids they have dragging their scores down just goes to show you're part of the systemic problem too.
    The US has the ability to not have that many poor people, but they love keeping the poor down hence the reason their general populous is as dumb as they are. Try and split the hairs any way you like, the average american IS dumber than the average person from pretty well any other developed nation.
    Public schools aren't meant to educate only the wealthy, they're meant to educate everyone. The USA is just full of self absorbed twats though, that's why they suck at public services.

  57. Here is school from a students eye: teach you through Monday to Thursday then test on what you learned on Friday repeat that for every week of school. The next year it's the same thing but a bit harder. Some days however are just "fun days" where you don't learn anything and just chill and do some things that isn't learning which the teachers think you like and enjoy but you would rather have the " fun day " be just a day off of school.

  58. America, where they're bad at fractions, but also one of the only 3 countries that use the imperial system

  59. In all seriousness, school and education in general is all OVERRATED. Teachers are NOTHING more than just glorified taxpayer paid BABYSITTERS. This day and age if anyone needs to want to know anything, all they need to do is GOOGLE IT UP…

  60. I love school! You are forced to go and someone else is making the rules. And you can't just quit. Of course adults will try all kinds of shit to make the kids (not them) "improve". If adults did it to other adults, you'd be causing protests and all kinds of political issues.

  61. Most year-round school initiatives in the US do not focus on increasing the number of hours spent in classrooms. Most aim to reformat the hours to reduce time off in the summer (and allow longer breaks in the middle of the year).
    Most US schools, for example, have a 10-12 week summer break, 1-to1.5 week winter break, and about 1-1.5 weeks split between fall and summer breaks. Year-round propositions frequently reflect the British and Australian school year, which have 6-8 week summer breaks, and longer seasonal breaks or half-term breaks (1-2 weeks in fall, 2-3 weeks in winter, and 1-2 in spring).

  62. PISA scores are for select students in Shanghai and as you SHOULD KNOW SIMON have been under challenge as being against the PISA rules. SHAME on you for including those highly skewed results

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