A World Without a School Year

Imagine a world without a school year. It isn’t very hard.

I have plenty of issues with compulsory schooling itself. I don’t believe it’s just to treat young people like parolees. I don’t think 14 years of regimentation and control are a good start to a good life. And all the time I see the permanent damage which school’s training in the lifestyle of rule-following leaves on its graduates,

But one of the things that irks me the most about our schooled society is the schooling schedule.

It’s bad enough for young people in schools. They experience the months and the seasons as either as grim reminders of a coming return to class or as brief ecstatic breaks from a routine they didn’t choose. Either way, their time isn’t theirs, and the seasons only remind them of that.

Fall is the dreary return to school. Winter is the long slog to Christmas. Spring is the long slog to summer. Summer is the too-short burst of enthusiasm made more bitter by adults’ enthusiasm to return the kids to the custody of the teachers.

What’s worse is that this schedule stays with children for all of their adult lives, in various forms.

We schedule our family time based on the start and stop of school years. We plan our vacations in the summer and ship off our kids once the fall comes. We take kids out of their creative contexts when summer ends. We clog the roads with morning traffic when school begins. We adults – even those without kids – often shut down our own productive pursuits, clubs, and teams in the summers.


Deep down in our minds, it seems that we’re all still running on the same enthusiasm of summer and dread of autumn we had when we were schoolkids.

From what I understand, the US’s school schedule was made to allow for children to help with summer harvests. Some people (whom I would shiver to meet) look at this and suggest that school be made year-round. I suggest the opposite, but I still see the problem with centrally planning an entire society’s seasonal flows based on a school year.

I don’t expect everyone to reject schooling. But I would expect that you’re once you’re out of the system, you might not want to live by its calendar. Let’s take back our time and our kids’ experience of time, at least.

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James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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