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History Of The Traditional School Calendar

2981 words - 12 pages

History of the Traditional School Calendar

The American educational system is based on the traditional, nine-month school calendar, which has been in place for over a century. Originally, the United States was an agrarian society. The majority of Americans lived on farms. People made most of the items that they needed, and with little trade necessary, there was no need for schooling (McLain, 1973). However, as people branched out into neighboring areas, they needed to learn new skills, such as basic arithmetic to price items, measure land, and more (McLain, 1973). As a result, it became the responsibility of those who were less needed on the farm or in the factory to acquire knowledge for the family (McLain, 1973).
Accordingly, children went to school to learn the skills they needed for life. In rural areas, the school year lasted for five to six months, “from the last harvest to the first planting” (Shields, 2000, 24). However, in the urban environment, schools were open eleven or twelve months of the year (Shields, 2000). This is because urban schools provided a way to get children off the labor market, as well as enable them to learn the new technology of the time (McLain, 1973). Then, in 1847, in order to offer a standard curriculum, “urban schools reduced the length of their school year and rural areas increased the number of their school days (Shields, 2000, 25). The result was the traditional, agrarian school calendar of nine months in school, with a three month vacation.

Year Round Education Introduced

Today however, the role of the modern public school is beginning to change. The United States is no longer an agrarian society. As a result, people feel that the traditional school calendar is too old-fashioned and not relevant in the modern world. Year round schools offer an equivalent, alternative form of education from the traditional calendar. The first year round school was established in 1904 in Bluffton, Indiana (Glines, 2002). Year round education is described as a “calendar modification that requires students to begin school earlier and end later than normal, with the lost summer vacation redistributed in blocks throughout the year” (Glines, 2002, 2698). It is important to note that year round schools have the same number of days in a calendar year as does the traditional school year. However, the days are distributed throughout the year. Year round schools differ from traditional schools in a variety of ways.

Single Track Calendar

In order to accommodate the year round calendar, there are several forms of year round education. The first form follows a single track calendar. This is the most popular type of calendar (Shields, 2000). A single track year is usually implemented to “provide a more balanced and enriched education program or to accommodate the special scheduling needs of a community” (Glines, 2002, 2699). A single track calendar takes on a 45/15 design. This is where students go to school for forty-five...

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