Summer Breaks

I just read an article in the New York Times about a drug-addicted lawyer who died of an overdose. It went on to state one in three lawyers suffers with alcohol abuse. 28% report depression and 19% report anxiety.

One in six doctors suffers with alcohol abuse. It is believed somewhere between 10 – 15% of doctors are drug addicts.  Compared to the general public, doctors are twice as likely to commit suicide.

Firefighters have alcohol abuse rates as high as 30%.

America is stressed out.

Take a summer break.

I know it isn’t fashionable to advocate for summer breaks because of summer learning loss students experience but summer breaks are paramount to the mental health of both students and teachers.

Teaching is a mentally strenuous profession. By the time summer rolled around, my brain felt like Jell-O. I wanted to focus on mindless movies and video games for a while. I didn’t want to multitask. I didn’t want to push to get things done. I didn’t want to worry about data. Creating new lessons was the last thing on my mind for a few weeks.

However, like any good break, I was ready to get back to work after about two weeks. The beauty of summer break though is I got to work at my pace. There were no deadlines. Most importantly, there was no teaching time that derailed my clear thinking. I didn’t second guess something because of a bad day. I had time to really evaluate how things went the previous year and the direction I wanted to go next year.

My lessons were better planned and were complete. I wasn’t scrambling to finish writing the lesson plan and the worksheets and the assessments in the middle of teaching and correcting and disciplining. Each lesson was more positive because I was more positive.

By the time school started I had fully completed everything I needed to get through until Thanksgiving break. I tweaked as needed but I could concentrate on delivery.

As the teaching profession is ripped apart by non-educators, it seems the number one complaint is that teachers get summer breaks. I will always defend this.

Why are Americans obsessed with work? When did work become a virtue? The benefit of taking vacation is well documented and yet Americans don’t listen. Instead, it has become fashionable to pick on the teaching profession for not being perfect and having summer breaks.

Summer breaks are important for teachers but students need the break as well. Learning is hard and mentally exhausting. Summer learning loss is, in my opinion, not the big deal that people want to make it.

That might be unpopular but information you don’t use disappears. That is true for everybody so why are students being held to such a high standard? Students have a difficult time remembering information from the beginning of the year so why is it such a big deal that they have a summer break?

If alcoholism, depression, and anxiety are waiting for our students why are we trying to push them to year round learning? People have the rest of their lives to work (and possibly work their lives away) can we please stop pretending that year round schools will fix our problems in the American school systems?

Perhaps all careers need a summer break.

Let’s start having positive conversations about the wonderful things that summer breaks give us.

Wonderful childhood memories perhaps? Time with our families? An opportunity to evaluate our work?

Enjoy the rest of your summer break.

 

 

 

 

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