Even the sun isn’t up yet, why are students?

Does school begin too early?


Xavier Sullivan, Staff Writer

Its (not quite) the crack of dawn at Elkhart Memorial, and what can one typically expect to see here on such a morning? Some students wrapped up in blankets, others with their heads on their desks, and others just outright asleep on the floor. What do you take from this? Students are tired.

For example. I, myself, just this morning of writing this story, had a stupidly hard time waking up. I have my alarm set for 6:00 a.m., and usually actually wake up and get out of bed at about 6:20, but it took until 6:35 before I could physically keep my eyes open for more than five seconds at time. Now, I drive to school, so naturally as with driving, one needs to be alert and focused, something I was certainly not this morning. I had to wait until the last minute to leave for school to ensure that I was at my most awake and wouldn’t crash and die on the way to school.

It is also not a matter of going to bed early. Either students do go to bed early, and are just always tired when waking up (often the earlier, the more tired), or they cannot ‘just go to sleep’ for one reason or another, such as work, or completing large sums of homework.”

For those who work, especially late hours, there is the ever present constant struggle to ‘just go to bed’ as their brains are wired, and wide awake. There is no ‘on-off’ switch for sleeping. One cannot ‘just go to sleep’ or ‘just stay awake’ either.

Students also can’t always cut their hours of work. I have heard students talk to their teachers because they struggle with being tired and sleeping in class because they always had to work until 11 o’clock at night just to support their families. Cutting hours is not an option for these students. And I’ve heard more than one case too. 

As for students dealing with homework late at night, they may have to work after school as well, or they may be involved with some sort of extracurricular activity, such as a sport or club. Sure, one can drop these activities to put their time towards academic work, but with that, they may also be throwing away their chance at a scholarship, sometimes their only chance at getting a higher education.

One may argue that pushing the school start time would push back the beginning times of the extracurriculars, and in turn, the time the homework gets done, and ultimately the time you go to sleep, however, the school day can just be cut short too.”

For example, two-hour delays allow the first two hours of school to  be shaved off and not be made up after the fact. Meaning that two hours of school can be taken away and it still considered to be a school day. Therefore, those two hours can be spent sleeping, as is often the case in two-hour delays, and a complete school day can begin at a reasonable 9:25 am.

Schools in Finland begin usually between 8 and 9 o’clock in the morning, with an average of five hours of school a day, as compared to America’s seven hours, beginning usually at 7:30 am. Students in Finland are well rested, and ready to learn, which is perhaps why the performance of their system is so superior. According to factsmaps.com, from OECD, 2015-2016, on a world ranking of average math, reading, and science scores, Finland came in eighth place, far above the United States’ measly 31st place.

That said, school shouldn’t start so early in the morning. It is taxing on the students, and only decreases performance in education. Starting school at a later time isn’t an unreasonable suggestion as it would increase academic scores, and is already being implemented in school systems in other parts of the world with much success.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the GENESIS staff. Reach Xavier Sullivan at [email protected].