Why are we only partly done our year?

Tomorrow morning life will once again begin that familiar cadence as school begins for 2008. We’re almost half-way through the year but 2008 is just beginning and with it all the expectations of a new year. It seems kind of funny to be starting a new year in the middle of a school year. I mean, all the rest of the world works on the calendar year, beginning in January and ending in December, kinda. Why is education so different? Why do we begin our year in August/September and end it in June? Why couldn’t we transform our school year to begin in January and end in December? Would it be impossible? What is keeping education from doing this?

The new year will start whether we are ready for it or not. Instead of waiting until June to finish our schooling, why can’t we finish it in December – have exams and begin our new year in January? What is keeping education from joining the rest of the world and following a yearly schedule that is more closely aligned to the calendar. We’d get rid of all the problems with birthdays – born in X year, you begin school instead of having a cutoff of, like, September for students.

I’ve thought about this for quite awhile, ever since I began having to deal with budgets that would begin in August and end in June but really didn’t happen that way since they ended with the Dec cycle. So, as I prepare to go back to school, knowing that I have about 3 weeks to finish my course and then exams begin, I really wonder if this is the best for students. Why can’t  we finish everything up, write exams and be done with the year like everyone else? January would see us beginning another year, students would be moving on to a new grade in time with a new year. We might even be able to do some moving of holiday time so that there is a bit more time off now or at other times of the year instead of the huge break in July and August when students lose so much. We are no longer an agrarian society yet our school system is still being run like we were.

Would changing the way our system was organized allow us to break the mold in other areas? Would we be able to redesign how things work and take into consideration what works best in each area? I mean, what works well in cities might not work as well in the rural areas. Do we all have to be cookie-cutter replicas? Education the world over looks very similar, from what I’ve seen. Why is that? Why is it we seem to have only one formula for schooling?

Tomorrow, ready or not, school will begin for many educators and students. Life will once again fall into a familiar pattern as education moves forward to the end of yet another year – in June. Maybe we need to disrupt that pattern. I mean, for the first time in history, there will be more people living in urban areas than in rural which could give way to a whole group of new developments and changes. Could 2008 be the year of the great educational reform?

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