Oh, let them sleep
Have you checked out today's story by education reporter Kristin Rushowy on the high school that's starting at 10 a.m. this year?
Toronto's Eastern Commerce Collegiate has a pilot program to see how students perform - in both grades and attendance - with a school day that starts and ends an hour later.
I think it's about time. We've heard endlessly in recent years that teenagers have a child-like need for sleep (8.5 hours plus), but circadian rhythms that keep them from nodding off at child-like bedtimes. In fact, teens may get a dose of melatonin - the sleep-inducing brain chemical - even later in the evening than adults. That, along with your exhausting juggle and his Grand Theft Auto addiction, at least partly explains why your teen may be up later than you these days.
But in most schools, he's still expected to be alert and ready to learn somewhere between 8:45 and 9 a.m.
I agree with Principal Sam Miceli's view that start times should be approached with the same compassion and acceptance with which preschool's embrace nap time. After all, teens are still children.
The critics' view that this sort of policy will encourage laziness and leave kids ill-prepared for the real-world just doesn't hold. As the story points out, at university or college - presumably the next destination for many - students can design their own timetables. That leaves plenty of years to grow into a nine-to-five work-world that may actually be less and less the norm.
Looking around The Star newsroom, as just one example of a real-world workplace, I see few departments that are fully staffed at 9 a.m. There are plenty of hard-working people here who start at 10 a.m. because that's when their news day is getting underway, their kids are delivered to school, and so on. There are others who start at 4 or 5 p.m. and work all evening to get the paper ready to print. A handful work all night to keep the website fresh and cover events that happen overnight. We settle into the schedules that work for us, and it's hard to imagine that the kid who grows up to be an animator or to video-game designer (likely self-employed or working on contract) is going to have to report to work at the crack of dawn.
The "I-had-to-and-so-should-you" logic of those opposed is simply arcane. It's the same line of reasoning used to justify 24-hour shifts for emergency medicine residents, simply because that's always the way it's been done.
I think we can all agree we don't want to be operated on by a surgeon who's 23 hours into that kind of shift. Why not let go of that sort of thinking, and at the same time, give teens a fighting chance to do the best they can at their jobs - learning?
And don't miss this: The Catholic School board has reversed a decision to shutdown the Arrowsmith program for special needs students.