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This is behind the classroom door a series of discussions produced by WFIU Af-Am and the College of Education at Northern Illinois University and distributed by the national educational radio network. Our topic for this program is the 12 month school. Here is the moderator Dean Robert F. top. This it is number 11 a series of conversations that we entitled Behind the classroom door. This one is called the 12 month school. And three of us are going to converse a bit about the possibility that is our ability of moving from a nine month school to a 12 month school. And I'm sure the idea makes mothers shudder. And teachers too. The idea that they have to keep children busy for 12 months. But what's so remarkable about nine months Dean Fox. How did this magic number ever get established as a school year.
I assume because at one time we were largely an agrarian nation and our students were needed work during the summer on farms. Yeah said Dean Fox and even charter the nine months they used to have seven and eight month school terms in fact as little as six and some areas I've been on about but I don't think that really fit the agricultural needs I had the interesting experience of being a principal in Fort Morgan Colorado. And it seems you know early in the fall after school had gotten started. Oh it was not so early in the fall this was early winter. The sugar beet harvest time came. We closed school. We just closed all of schools in the community so all of these children could get out and help. When I get a lady type the child labor laws helped a lot there. They stop them from working so this changes the situation I bet.
Yeah I think it's still true in parts of California that schools close when children are picking grapes or picking fruit. Now I sure do this on their own farms. Dr. Nelson and perhaps they still do it. But on the other hand three months vacation that perhaps got started for an agricultural reason and no longer this agricultural reason or basis prevails how do we account for its continuance up to the present time. With less than 8 percent of the people in the nation working in agriculture it is very difficult to substantiate hamming pardon me having a nine month school session. In fact one of the biggest arguments that I have heard and I'm sure the rest of you have too is that all those school buildings are sitting empty three months in the summertime now we've solved this a bit by having some summer school. Well we've been trying for years to get the surrounding schools to
establish summer school programs so that we could have our prospect of teachers out in the schools on some kind of an internship. But it's been only in recent years I think and partly as a result of some federal support money that the schools have developed many summer programs. Isn't it also true though Dr. Nelson that the school year has just been increased in the state of Illinois and that there has been a gradual tendency to increase the number of days required in the school year. Yes Dean Foxx said the school code now reads that there should be a school year set up of one hundred eighty five days. I think you can still do that in nine months can't they Dr. Nelson. Pretty close but with vacations now we really are getting between nine and a half and 10 months of school actually.
But how about the new regulation for one hundred eighty five days including institutes. I would be very difficult to handle. You know and I know I know academic months. Yeah telling your mom SATs right. Well this is a movement presumably in the right direction and yet many parents object and many teachers object for example teachers have developed a pattern over the years of going back to college or university. During those vacation days where they completed initial degrees or take additional coursework that will enrich their teaching. Well Dean topped the way it's really set up is that one hundred seventy six days minimum even though one eighty five. Now they allow about four days for teachers institutes and meetings. If those are not used then they must be added on to the 176 days to make the 180 days. So actually I didn't find like the inbox says. I don't see how we could possibly do all this in nine months.
Isn't that one reason that so many universities including Northern Illinois University are trying to change their summer schedule moving it back farther in terms of the opening date so that teachers who are teaching in the suburban schools which tend to have longer preschool institutes than in the rural areas would still be able to attend our summer session. You know I would hazard a guess that if we were to take a short make a survey of teachers and their reactions to an extended 12 month school year the majority would oppose it. Because teachers after nine months of contact with children can hardly wait until they can get away from children and you have to admit it is considerable stress and strain for a long period of time. How would we meet this problem I wonder if we were to move into a 12 month situation.
I think some of the schools that have experimented with 12 month for example Rock Rochester Minnesota has had the 12 month school for a long period of time but the 12 month school does not include direct instruction with youngsters constantly. For some teachers it's simply in the service work planning the years of work. For others it tends to be recreational and for some and tends to be academic. Well Glencoe Illinois has had this program for years and all of their teachers are on a 12 month contract which by the way would seem to be desirable because teachers trying to live on one month's pay for the 12 months. It is not a simple matter but at Glencoe they have a type of varied program for the teachers that you describe. There are some of the teachers are working on curriculum development and the development of new materials. Other teachers are teaching summer classes for
children and of course these are gradually building up and becoming more common even in Glencoe. But for many years it was difficult to establish much of a summer program because of the item we mentioned earlier and that is that the parents wanted to take vacations they wanted to take their vacations when they wanted to take them. They didn't want to have to conform to some kind of a summer schedule. But isn't it true that many males Antrim teaching today simply cannot live and support a family on the salaries that they're being paid and that they are the ones who are asking for a longer school year partially so that they will get. Additional at least one additional month's salary and that these people are primarily interested in no more time for preparation time do the things in planning that they cannot do during the academic year.
I saw an interesting schedule not too long ago Dean Fox where it would be possible to have school a year around still releasing the teachers and the students at various times during the year and this summer to have their vacations and to do other things that would be the answer to the strain on the teachers and having them work too long a period of time might be better this way because actually right now in the middle of March this is a period of time when most teachers are tired. Children are tired. We need everybody needs a vacation to refresh themselves. And interestingly enough being top of the schedule I was talking about it would also allow for better utilization of the buildings in other words what I'm saying is you could have more classes in the same size building because there will always be some of the teachers and some of the students on vacation. This would change our whole idea of big Asians Undoubtedly.
I wonder how it works Dr Nelson if somebody has say five children spread from kindergarten through the 12th grade special in the state of Illinois in which many elementary districts are separate from the secondary district. How do they manage to give all these children vacation at the same time so that the parents can take a vacation with the children who have to be a real headache. Jean Fox and I hope that they don't have to worry about what you know. Maybe we're too worshipful of this idea of a continued attendance in school maybe an elementary child can miss school for two weeks and going to vacation with a minimal of our refreshment in the form of a few books to read on the vacation. Perhaps this wouldn't be to insure us. But any recognizing that will make some scheduling problems of some severity there are a lot of disadvantages to closing down school for three months. There's advantages to the use in the utilization of the schools for
example. Isn't it true though that some schools that have conducted studies feeling that it would be cheaper to run a school for 12 months actually have found that by adding a summer session their cost is increased greatly. Salaries of course have to be paid to the teachers and to the customer audio staff. And I think traditionally the summer has been used to get the building back into proper condition and cleaning. Painting one of those they are going to be living in the United States of America closes down for three months of the gusto Indians can clean up. I think with varying schedules such as Dr. Nelson described this could be accomplished very well. Now it's true we won't save dollars and cents and that's not the significant thing we will be using these buildings in a more efficient way instead of handy having them stand empty during the summer.
I suppose the most important point is do students achieve more who attend. A 12 month school and those children who attend the nine month school as have been any research on that that you know about. I've reviewed research that I can find and it's contradictory. Dr. Pollack on our own staff conducted a study in which he found that even though children did not attend summer school they tend to do have the same rate of achievement again as children who attended summer school. We called it an incubation period for learning. There was a have time to reinforce with practical experiences those things that they've learned during the academic year. And of course many children may read or participate in recreational programs work programs and get other valuable experiences in the summer. Course there's a terrific summer slump isn't there. Seems to me that when I was a principal every good teacher
took perhaps two or three weeks at least in the elementary schools to review last year's work because it was a real drop off and achievement level of children. This is correct absolutely there's no question about it on seems unwise to me to spend this despair have the teachers always spend this period of time reviewing when they could keep them going. The youngsters wouldn't mind. I had a large summer school in a high school where I was as principal and we found that that the youngsters who attended summer school also achieved more during the year they were right in the swing of the things and asking them how about this these long periods of school a body and why no they didn't consider it at all. Do they get more. They did get some vacation periods. Yes yes they would have about a 3. They'd have their vacation this summer a little and of course at Easter aggressiveness and all the traditional vacations.
I think that's especially true in a skill subject that children tend to forget. A great deal over the summer in terms of for example the arithmetic skills. And as a result a teacher who receives the children in a fifth grade often wonders what they did in the fourth grade because they have forgotten so many things that were learned in becomes critical of the fourth grade teacher who becomes critical of a third grade teacher. Yes but some of the research indicates that this is not necessarily bad. That what has happened is the child actually had never mastered the scales in their review at the beginning of the year is a very necessary part of learning and is much more effective than if the instruction had been continuous you know going I was just going to say I really don't think good that the research tell is very much on this. There aren't enough schools that have been running for 12 months for them to conduct research on
longitudinal bases or over a number of years and therefore the results cannot be generalized and applied to other institutions at the present time. One interesting facet of this summer slump was brought to my attention by a speech correction as they say that they will work with young children through the year and they will see tremendous progress in the correction of poor speech habits and at the end of the year beginning of summer vacation the children go away and they come back in the fall when the old habits established so they have to start all over because perhaps some of these habits have come from the home situation or at least the children haven't been handled the right way. This was a drop off. I would say I was just going to add to that that I think some of the studies that have been done with Project Head Start and children from the so-called culturally deprived homes find that these children benefit much more if they're
placed in a school situation during the summer months than children who come from good homes and I think that somewhat stands to reason because the good home would tend to continue to provide. Learning experiences for the children during a summer period. You know the attitudes of children about school and about vacation have trains changed remarkably over the past generation. We we set the stage and we accept the fact that children just want to be out of school that they don't like attending school and that they love vacation. But schools have changed so now they have a Barberry program they understand child psychology better and I believe that most children who are having any degree of success in school misses most children really like school. You know it's hard to get boys to admit that as you can tell it is true. As the end of the summer passes I think most parents realize that three
months is too long for a child to be home on and a vacation situation but I think it's especially true about August. If a parent watches children during this period the child begins to long for the companionship that he has in a school situation. And most children I think are bored by August and would like to get back to school. And I agree that I think for the vast majority of children today school tends to be a much more pleasant experience than it was in the past. And with this powerful explosion of knowledge where it's doubling regularly it seems to me there there is going to have to be a longer period for the students to get all this in other words what I'm saying is I think a student who graduates from high school today knows considerably more than when they graduated 20 years ago. No question about it as a result.
So we need some time to teach them the all these things and hurt most of the summer programs rather compromise between full day of school that's right and a half day. Most of the ones that I'm familiar with in the state of Illinois run only during the morning and run for from one month to six weeks. And also these tend to be voluntary so that the child who does have to work especially at the high school level or to pay part of his expenses does not need to attend it seems. In many other schools the trend is to make attendance compulsory for youngsters who have failed as subject or grade in order to make up for that grade and to make attendance voluntary for youngsters who are simply taking the summer program as an enrichment. Dean Fox it would seem to me that in those situations where they made attendance compulsory for the failing child and it would be very
important to have a different kind of program in the summer because this youngster has failed during the year or has had great difficulty during the year he's tired of school. I have that then just to give him some more of the same thing would just turn him further away from school. I agree and I think it's one reason that summer programs have become so popular it's very difficult in that time. During the academic year to provide a different program for youngsters who have failed I think the traditional method of handling that handling a child who has failed. For example if you failed a fourth grade would be to have him go back and repeat the fourth grade. So actually he's going through much the same program and how jarring after announcing that fact he may have failed because he rebelled the first time he was exposed to the program. But the summer enables the teacher to provide a different type of program based on the student's
abilities and needs. And I do think that the work that has been done with children who have very low achievement. During the summer period somewhat justifies a great expansion of summer programs throughout the state while en route in Richmond Chiles activities of Fine Arts and typing Personal Typing it seems to me almost every junior high school child ought to acquire the skill of personal typing because you're going to need the rest of his life. No one who is on to high school. So I wonder Dr Nelson since you were principal of a very large high school with the increasing emphasis upon academic preparation in order to enter the college of your choice. Isn't it getting to a point that the student who plans to attend college has very little opportunity to take elective
work. Even music art industrial arts. I know when I supervise student teachers in high schools the industrial arts classes tend to be filled with non-college bond people. And yet it seemed to me that the skills you learned in industrial arts classes are necessary for all people. And the same way with homemaking for girls that. Very few college Bond girls were taking homemaking courses and yet I assume they're planning to be homemakers of Samus. No no no. Throughout my formal public school education years I wanted to take some something in ceramics. I felt that this would be so satisfying. But there never was time. If you elected something it was something that would do you good. When you went to college there's likely less strongest No Bias No that was my hearers will be laughing at you.
Well this is one of the strongest arguments that I know for expending a summer program. Our summer program grew by leaps and bounds for this very reason and we offered everything in the summer that we could get enough students for Dr. Nelson did they have flexibility so that they could miss class for a week or two if their parents took a vacation. We always made those except you would that was on the various problem at all because they could make it up by working afternoon and you see a working out doing their work in advance that I didn't know it became every once in a while you'll hear of a school that regulates and it says you can I've even enroll in our summer program unless you will guarantee. Do attend throughout the period. I'm afraid I'm afraid we may have too many of those vandals in education and schools that keep the youngsters kind of farm too tightly. Well you know back to freedom from school during the child's developing hearers and the idea of worth was mentioned by you I think. Team Fox. I wonder if I am wrong in thinking that every young person during
his developmental years and prior to the completion of his formal education ought to have some kind of work experience selling experience or just hard work experience of some sort where he had to discipline himself to stick with it. I think for some reason perhaps the fact that historically this country was founded by people from working classes. We have not. Placed work experience into the school curriculum the way many other countries have done Russia for example I think as most of you know a few years ago I found that with their great emphasis upon higher education many people were graduating who were unable to work with their hands and they found those to be very detrimental expense especially in the field of engineering. So Russia put in required work experiences throughout their program. I know when
I was in Ethiopia two years ago in connection with a project at Northern Illinois University the Ethiopians look upon any work with their hands as beneath their dignity and the country of Ethiopia suffered greatly. The trades and so-called trades in this country that require working with your hands mechanical trades for example plumbing were far behind it. They were far behind us in those trades and most of the people who were doing. Work with their hands were from other countries rather than Ethiopians. Now the government realizes this and is bringing young many people to the capital sending them to school there and trying to incorporate some work experience as part of their program. But I think it's one reason that Ethiopia has failed to
develop and I understand from talking with the faculty members who have served in other parts of Africa that this tends to be true as soon as they get the education they're seeking and they don't want to use their hands anymore. Even the suit white shirt and tie as a mark of prestige or class and therefore these people want to wear the white shirt the suit all the time they don't want to do anything that would be manual labor you know work experience goes beyond just using and learning how to use your hands and making that contribution it seems to me it has much to do with your philosophy of life. Right. The role you expect to play them in fact that you must make a contribution and that you must to get something beyond the limits of fun. And I recall during the Depression days that there was. Project known as a civilian conservation corps CCC which many
people feel should be revived at the moment. Right well those who have had the experience with this speak very highly of it because this amounted to a high school graduate. Let's say taking one year out of his life and he and they deliberately sent them to another portion of the country the one where they reside it. So in Chicago where they might go out to the Far West and they would work in the forests and they'd work on roads and they improve national parks. And you see you still see evidence of the CCC impact in creating national parks. But the value of it was that these young people young men had the experience of seeing what it is like to work hard. They received a little money they rub shoulders with others in different walks of life and many of them resolved to go back and get a college education. And selling. I like the idea of having developing young people get in a
position where they have to sell something when the customer is right. You've got to control your emotions you can't argue back you just show the customer something else. Very gentle work if it can only be incorporated. You better have so this is this is one of the best things that I know of also to develop your personality develop your relationship with people. All those things what was probably seen that we should not have a 12 month school but that we should try to lengthen our school day. Our school year to the maximum period in which achievement would still be enhanced but which we'd still allow time for children to have desirable work and travel experiences I might say just on that point the Florida Education or search and Development Council recently did a nationwide study trying to determine what was the optimum length of the school
year in terms of getting the best educational quality level program. And the greatest amount of educational return per dollar invested. And they found a two hundred ten days enjoys a specification. Well it could be our spare store contain us but 210 days would be about the equivalent of a 10 on a half calendar months. Well I think that we have covered this subject fairly well at least in initiating think our thinking about it and I hope that others have gotten some ideas too about it. A long way to go but we should do something to shake up the nine month pattern and to have it fit the psychology of young people and fit the needs of our society better. And I imagine that this is going to make rapid progress now because we are concerned about the learning of children. We are anxious to see to it that our
country is truly competitive in the world situation. And so I believe that we'll make some rapid strides in the near future to modify the nine month program into something that is more efficient and accomplishes the task of education better. Behind the classroom door produced by W. When are you in cooperation with the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. Each week focuses its attention on one of the many challenging aspects of public school education. The program is moderated by Dr. Robert F. top dean of the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. Today's guests were Dr. Raymond Fox associate dean of the College of Education and Dr. Robert H Nelson head of the department of secondary education. Next week's topic will be the facts about the teacher shortage. I'm Fred Pyle and this program is distributed by the national educational radio network.
Behind the Classroom Door
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Behind the Classroom Door is a radio series from WNIU-FM about education in the United States. In each episode, faculty from the Northern Illinois University College of Education address specific issues related to public school education and operation. The program is produced in cooperation with Northern Illinois University and distributed by the National Educational Radio Network.
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Chicago: “Behind the Classroom Door; 11,” 1969-02-24, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 14, 2024,
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APA: Behind the Classroom Door; 11. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from