How to spend your summer efficiently
Summer time is here again, and one more time classes are on standby until the fall. From a logistical point of view, it all makes sense: July and August are major holiday months and in a country where the average worker has 30 working days off, there are many who take entire months off during the summer. It’s not unusual, for example, for an office to be at 50% staff in July and August. If half the employees are gone, that means half the students are gone so… Why bother with classes?
The second justification is that this system simply follows the school year system already set in place, not only in Spain but in the majority of the western world. School starts in September, break in December/January and ends in June. If it works for the national education system of countries in the western world, why wouldn´t it work in the training world of business?
The answer is simple: this schedule came from our background as farmers – school let out when parents needed extra hands on the farm.
- We are no longer farmers; we no longer need to adjust our children’s timetables to the harvest.
- We, as adults, no longer work in the field. We no longer have to adjust our timetable to the harvest either.
In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell (http://www.gladwell.com/outliers/) talks about this antiquated idea and the serious and damaging consequences of following a system that no longer makes sense. He researches which students do better and which worse throughout the school year. Not surprisingly, he finds that students of rich parents do better than those of poor parents.What is surprising though, is that the difference is directly related to the amount of time students spend studying and learning – not to the size of their parents bank accounts.
The average student studies from September until June. Students from well off families, however, spend the summer months doing some sort of educational activity and that is what makes the real difference in the end.
Looking at the end of year test scores of our students, then again at their start of year test scores, it´s obvious that there´s real truth in what Gladwell says. That is to say, many studentswill start the year with lower levels then when they ended the year. With a 2 to 3 month gap at summer, in addition to a 1 month gap in winter and all the holidays Spain celebrates in throughout the year, sometimes I´m surprised that students progress at all.
There is progress though – thanks to our system the majority of our students progress. However, how much they progress from the start of year to the end year is always larger than how much they progress year by year.
It’s understandable that at the elementary, high school and university levels there is little we can do to change the system, however on an adult and business level we alonecontrol the situation and it’s up us to change it.