Why school holidays?

I don’t mind the evil eyes as a response to that question.  Give it a thought, please. What do we as a society cause with all those school holidays? 5 weeks of summer holidays – 7 weeks at school – 2 weeks autumn holidays – 9 weeks school – 2 weeks Christmas holidays – 5 weeks school – 2 weeks sports holidays – 6,5 weeks school – 2,5 weeks spring holidays – 11 weeks school with another 5 holidays? We talk about the compatibility of family work and paid employment and allow for just 4 weeks of statutory holidays. The other 10 weeks end up being a private matter. This is crazy, because it is incompatible. Children are officially not at school for 25% of the weekdays per year. And then we wonder why many women are not in paid work at all.

School holidays used to be a means of compatibilty: in spring the farmers planted and sowed, in summer and autumn they harvested and hayed – they needed all the labour they could get. They kept the children at home to help out, often together with other village children. Therefore the schools were closed. As a result of the need for compatibility in society – because the children did not show up anyway. The many school holidays are now a legacy, child labour is prohibited.

The many school holidays are a legacy

I have a reform proposal: 2 weeks of holidays at Christmas, 4 weeks in summer and 5 joker days per year. Instead of further holidays, there are 2 project weeks every semester, in which children can deepen their individual interests as well as their social competence and ability to cooperate in new group compositions across schools. With daycare structures, of course. The teachers defend the many school holidays by saying that they would have to look after their own children at home and prepare the lessons on the side. In addition, they needed rest. Well, the first argument is solved automatically if the children of the teachers have less school holidays, too. They will have more time for preparation and rest during school hours if we adjust the daycare structures of all children to the working hours of the average employee. A full teaching workload would thus comprise about two thirds teaching and one third free preparation plus 6 weeks holidays – sounds feasible, doesn’t it. And working parents would be relieved.

Column in Swiss «Handelszeitung» of Esther-Mirjam de Boer, published on 9 January 2020

PS: There are also good reasons for the children to have less holidays: