When considering the effects of shortened school days and even a shortened school year, the obvious reaction given by many students would be relief. Over the past few decades, school requirements have become increasingly difficult, demanding more of students and teachers alike as educational standards have changed. While a shortened school day can bring about the advantage of more free time and even increased hours to study, there are distinct disadvantages that are brought on by the lack of class time.
Disadvantages of shortened school days
One disadvantage stems from the simple fact that many states are required to provide a set number of instructional hours per year. If this number falls short, then it would become necessary to shorten vacation days or even increase the length of the school year. Such a practice would extend the average school year by several days in order to compensate for shorter class times.
There would also be the issue of reduced lecture time. This would include lab classes that often deal with hands-on learning and require the necessary lecture that accompanies the more physical aspect of the class. Many classes that deal with this type of tandem learning would suffer greatly from a reduction in lecture time. Given that many such classes require a setup and breakdown period, the level of instruction and time allotted would be far too little in relation what is required.
The time spent on extracurricular activities would be seen as advantage at first, as students could engage more fully in sports, community service and even internships. But this brings back the initial problem of a decided lack of education stemming from the detrimental effects to lecture time. If students are not given the proper tools to excel, then their extracurricular activities could suffer as well. Athletes needing a 2.0 GPA or better to compete could be at a loss as the lack of instruction affects their test scores and homework assignments. Community service means very little on a college resume without the necessary GPA to back it up. Even internships might be less possible if the student has a track record lacking for want of proper instruction.
Another disadvantage hidden away as an advantage is the money that schools could save by shortening the school day. The lowered cost of utilities alone would more than increase the savings of most schools. Teachers who work less earn less pay as well, meaning that yet another increase in savings is experienced as educators are forced to accept less. This is the truly unfortunate part as teachers, like all working professionals, will often seek out jobs that will pay without forcing them to take a pay cut. While schools could save money in this manner, it is likely that they would save very little, as they would need to hire on more staff if teachers refused to work for lower salaries.
The idea of shortening the school day is one that gains applause from students, but looks of concern and even disgust from educators. While there are benefits to be reaped by such a move, the risks are just as great, if not greater.
Bradley, Katherine. "Shortening the School Day." Seattle Pi. 2016. Web. 14 July 2016.