Why We Should Kill The Summer Holiday

Have you enjoyed your Summer holiday? Many parents returning home this August will find an unwashed teenager languishing on the sofa playing Fortnite. The first question they will ask themselves is:

Why are the summer holidays so long?

It’s a more serious question than it sounds. Many children return from the long break having forgotten much of what they learnt in the previous year. Indeed, studies suggest that summer learning loss could be as high as a quarter of the year’s education, with children from poorer backgrounds worst affected. Youngsters will hate the idea of a longer school year. Many grown-ups will object to it too, not least because it would cost taxpayers more. But there are ways to pay for it.

The Benefit of Larger Classes

Many parents are obsessed with teacher-to-pupil ratios, but there is little evidence they make a difference. More time in school needn’t mean repeating the same old lessons. Children from well-off families often use the summer to broaden their minds, burnish their college applications or find summer jobs. Schools should help the rest catch up.

A Working Holiday

As for me, I started my two weeks annual holiday from work today. And I’m definitely not going to log on to check email and voicemail … spending my vacation time trying to find a decent Wi-Fi signal, when I really should be relaxing. However, lots of other people do try to keep up with work during their break, perhaps deciding that not knowing what’s going wrong at work is worse than knowing? Whatever the reason leaving the office behind is getting progressively more difficult to do. So, it seems we face two choices:

  1. annoy our friends and family by typing away on our smart phones in an attempt to keep the level of emails down to less than three figures on our eventual return to work;
  2. be brave and let the messages build up, so it takes at least a week to catch up once you get back to work.

Perhaps all companies should follow the lead of Daimler?

Email these people while they are on holiday and you will get a message like this: I am on vacation. I cannot read your email. Your email is being deleted. Please contact Hans or Monika if it’s really important, or resend the email after I’m back in the office. Danke Schoen.

I think it’s important to consider using your annual vacation to do on a digital detox, especially as:

… nearly one in ten (9%) smartphone owners admit to having used their phone during sex, along with unexpected places, such as the shower (12%)

Perhaps we should consider Henry Thoreau’s ideas on the subject of technology?

In Thoreau’s view, technology also provoked an excitement that was counterproductive because it served as a distraction from the important questions of life.

Our inventions are won’t to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at; as railroads lead to Boston or New York. We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate. (Walden, 52)

In fact why not share his thoughts on Facebook, tweet the most relevant parts of it or even download Walden to your Kindle … while you’re on the beach?

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