We’ve all heard this one: why don’t we start high school at around 9:30, not 7:15? There are countless numbers of research reports that say that starting high school later is beneficiary to students’ academic success and health (click here to read one such study that scientists from the University of Minnesota preformed).
Specifically, researchers found that the later the schools starts the day, the “better off the students were on many measures, including mental health, car crash rates, attendance and, in some schools, grades and standardized test scores.”
Also, teenagers who have eight hours of sleep and wake up around 9:00 “learn better and are less likely to be tardy, get in fights or sustain athletic injuries.” Jessica Payne—a sleep researcher at the University of Notre Dame—says, “Teenagers are losing the ability not only to solidify information but to transform and restructure it” because of lack of sleep. Research has even shown that teenager’s circadian rhythms—our internal clock—are offline because of early school start times (read more about this correlation in the journal Educational Researcher).
So what’s the controversy about? If additional sleep has all these benefits, why haven’t we changed the high school start times yet? “At heart…experts say, the resistance is driven by skepticism about the primacy of sleep.” Indeed, not enough people appreciate how important sleep is on the brain’s function.
And as such, people are afraid of implementing the idea. How would the logistics work out? But there is a simple problem to that as well. There is similar research that suggests that school times for elementary students should be earlier. So in the modified system where high school start times are later, busses simply have to switch their pickup of high school and elementary students. (See more about this topic in an article by Jan Hoffman in the New York Times).
About the Author
Like this post? Read Rajat Bhageria’s new book, What High School Didn’t Teach Me, a book he wrote after his senior year of high school that provides fresh perspectives on how schools are killing creativity, and provides a recent graduate’s perception on how educators can fix our broken education system; get a free copy of his new book by liking the book’s Facebook page.
Additionally, he is the Founder and CEO of CafeMocha.org—an online writing community that allows young writers to publish, share, and gain recognition for their creative writing around the world. He graduated from Sycamore High School in 2014 and is attending University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) this year. See his full portfolio at RajatBhageria.com