Let’s Get Serious about Snow Days

Barry Lenson

Snow DaysBoy, did I love snow days when I was in public school. I’d wake up in the morning to the sound of the town’s firehouse siren, which signaled that schools were closed. I’d look out the window to confirm that there was white stuff on the ground. Then I’d grab my sled and meet my friends at the sledding hill in the park. It was about as close to paradise as any kid could get.

Now I’m grown up and days off from school are more serious business.  I live in New Jersey, where schools in many towns were closed for a few weeks after Hurricane Sandy rolled through here.  Were kids happy? Sure, they were ecstatic. But they’re not so happy now. In an effort to make up some of the days that were lost, school systems have cancelled traditional one-week vacations in the winter and spring. Some have added a week of classes at the end of the school year. That makes kids unhappy but even worse, it has a negative effect on learning. Kids need to “air out” by having time off. When they have to go to school week after week and get no break, it actually has a negative effect on their learning.  I am tutoring one kid now, for example, who could really use to kick back and have a week off.

And there are problems for older students too. I know one young man, for example, who is training to become a nurse. He’s been taking science courses at a community college, and Sandy set his learning back by nearly a month.  For him, time off doesn’t mean fun or sledding down a hill with friends. It means that his progress has been stalled.

This blog, as you might have noticed, often points out the advantages of online learning. So let me point out an obvious one. If you are taking classes online and are highly motivated to learn, you won’t get derailed by snow days. Or if the power goes out at your college and classrooms are shuttered, that won’t slow you down.  If a hurricane kills the power at your house, of course, you might get stalled until your power and Internet service restart. But you won’t have to wait weeks and weeks while your college pumps the water out of the basement in the building where your classes are held.

So let it snow. If it does, you can be warm and cozy indoors, completing your online courses and moving ahead toward your educational and career goals. Yup, it’s another good thing about online learning.

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