What if we had a four-day school week?


The pandemic has made us re-evaluate traditional methods. With everything being moved online, many have found that their flexible schedules allowed them a healthier work-life balance.

This has brought renewed interest in the four-day workweek. The impetus for this schedule is that it would boost productivity and prevent burnout. Countries such as Scotland and Japan are also proposing giving it a trial run.

Students are at as high a risk of being fatigued as adults. School hours vary across the world, but it's not unusual to find students spending about 8 to 10 hours on schools and tuition, excluding commute time. A four-day school week would take some of the pressure off, let students re-energise over a long weekend, and boost productivity. It would also provide them time to pursue extracurriculars, which are at times discouraged by teachers and parents, especially when exams are around the corner.

The extra day can be used to participate in athletics, another activity commonly ignored in our educational institutes. Sports and extracurriculars aside, students would also get to spend quality time with their families. Both student and teacher attendance have seen increases in four-day schools according to several studies. The flexible schedule would allow teachers more time to come up with lesson plans or invest in professional training.

Not to mention, a shorter workweek would make teaching an attractive job to many. Less school days would mean fewer vehicles on the roads, which would undoubtedly be a boon for the environment.

On the other side, there's a chance that students who were disinterested in school to begin with will disregard their studies even more. Academic momentum may be disrupted over the course of a lengthy weekend and extended leisure time always has the potentiality to be abused.

Additionally, to compensate for the lost day, all four days could need longer classes which could prove to be hectic for young learners.

Even after compensating for lost time, many may perceive this system to be a lax educational policy. Schools who have implemented this system have received mixed results so far.

A study of schools in Colorado, USA revealed increased juvenile crime after implementing a four-day schedule. Whereas, another study from MIT's Education Finance and Policy found improved academic performance in maths and reading.

Then, there are the biggest stakeholders to consider – the students and the parents. Students might welcome the extra day, but parents are likely to be divided on this issue. For single or working parents, arranging care for their younger children on a working day might prove to be a hassle.

The long-term effects of the shorter school week also need to be mulled over. If universities and workplaces continue the five-day workweek, it would be a tough transition for students to handle. Nevertheless, with more emphasis being put on mental health around the world, it's definitely an approach worth considering.

Ziba Mahdi is your resident pessimist. Cheer her up at fb.com/ziba.mahdi.735