School Weeks Should Be Shortened

With the UK’s interest in a three day school week, should the US follow in their footsteps?


   Students in America often complain about school, and relish an occasional Monday off or a holiday. However, with the UK’s new consideration of 3-day-school weeks, the question arises: is too much of a good thing a bad thing? Well, with reports from other countries, who have already regularly limited school hours, the answer is no – and the US should follow suit.

   Everyone thinks that less school time means less learning, but really it’s quality over quantity. Lowering school hours is shown to increase concentration, participation and strengthen overall learning readiness and outcomes. According to a study by D. Mark Anderson and Mary Beth Walker, based on schools in the US that have already cut down to four days, there is not only an improvement in academic performance, but “students are less distracted, exhibit improved morale and behave better on the shortened weekly schedule.” Though, this change would not just affect students, but teachers too. 

   According to RAND Corporation, a well-known research organization, teachers in America are reported to experience high stress, burnout and even depression symptoms since the beginning of the pandemic. As understood previously, shortening school would boost morale, allow for more leisure time which could be used for planning and grading, spending time with family and more. That doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but if these breaks were implemented, school would likely become more engaging overall; more involved teachers make more involved students. 

   But if there are so many known benefits to cutting down school, what’s holding the US back? The short answer, school is meant to prepare kids for the “real world” where adults are commonly overburdened with their jobs. The US is already the most overworked developed country in the world. With an average of 6-8 hour school days for students, it lands students with about 30-40 hour ‘workweeks’; still excluding time spent on homework and other school related responsibilities, which takes up around 4-5 hours a week. The biggest reason for less school time in the UK boils down to monetary struggle: rising energy costs and unpaid wages owed to teachers. Taking into account the current speculation of an upcoming recession in the US, following the UK’s footsteps may just be the best decision. 

   The change doesn’t have to be as drastic as condensing school to only three days. In France, there are often half days on Wednesday. Something as simple as this would be just as efficient for brain breaks and work as a good first step towards what US schools should institute.