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Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Moving New Zealand's Summer Holidays

NZ and the Southern Hemisphere in general is very lucky in that if you want to hold a bunch of holidays which are clustered together at the end of the old and start of the new year, you can do this simultaneously with the big holidays that school children have. This way the start of each school year can also occur with the start of the year. In fact, so logical is this system it really makes the way the Northern Hemisphere runs things look absolutely mental.

The thing is... in NZ... it's really (?) rather hot during February, which is allegedly the hottest month of the year. Thus, last year and this year (for quite different reasons) we saw people propose a change to our holiday pattern. At the moment it's essentially twelve weeks off in total with a 6/2/2/2 split. What's suggested, in this article anyway, is that we have some time off at Christmas and new years and then run through January for no reason other than "lol, it's hot". The position is moronic, and the resultant 4/2/2/2/2 system is going to prove deeply problematic.

10 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Meme At Home
In that episode of Spongebob, they inhabitants of Bikini Bottom basically deal with the plot of Unstoppable but instead of a train that'll explode it's an Alaskan Bull Worm. It's a plot that makes for a good movie and a good episode of Spongebob. Patrick's solution to the issue is to push Bikini Bottom somewhere else. That's a ridiculous solution, but because it's Spongebob it's a possible one... so they do it. Sadly, Sandy and Spongebob manage to divert the Worm so Bikini Bottom gets wiped out anyway. Which is the lesson these "it's too hot" dingbats need to learn... moving out of the way of a problem, doesn't actually solve it.

If you're not from NZ, this holiday nonsense probably sounds like a joke also. But it's real. The alleged problem of having school in February really is the heat: "as I wave hot sweaty kids off into hot sweaty classrooms, to sit for six hours in front of hot sweaty teachers." It's not actually that hot in New Zealand. Not when we define hot by "Australia". And shifting the pupils and their heat affliction back home doesn't help either because we don't build houses with insulation or central heating/cooling here. For the pupils most likely to be sitting in ovens at school, it's going to be even worse at home... and their parents are the least likely to be able to take them to the beach everyday/somewhere cooler. If the heat really is that bad (from memory, it's not but, hey, #globalwarming, amirite?), the only way to tackle it head on is to build better classrooms.

Okay, so moving the holidays to get out the heat really is that dumb, but would changing the holidays for other reasons (say, for the lulz) be that bad? What's the case made by our nutso article writer?
Keeping kids in school a tad longer than early December would also help families with Christmas planning and holiday organisation. Most parents are still working up until Christmas, despite kids being off much earlier, which means increased childcare costs and increased pressure and stress at an already pressured and stressed time.
Um... wut? Primary Schools shut up shop on 20, 19, 18 and 20 December in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017. Colleges do close earlier than this, in mid December, but since almost everyone at them is 14 by then, these parenting costs largely shouldn't be incurred... you can just leave your young people at home. Regardless, we're not talking about "early December" so stop lying.

The second part of this is equally wut. I mean, how does it help to separate out these long holidays from the bunch of public holidays that the parents qualify for? Surely it's better to be using up this holiday time concurrently with parental time off? How on earth are parents going to manage 28 odd days off in February? It's weird.

So far, so bad for the holiday pushers, but it's going to get worse.

Let's say we have a couple of days off over Christmas etc. and then it's back to school. Is it the start of the year? Or is it the end of the previous year? If it's the start of the year then imagine how disruptive it will prove to suddenly gone from school for four weeks after establishing the routine. And if it's the end of the previous year, what's going on? Are we going to have teachers using public holidays to mark exams and the like? Is the general mood of everyone going to be, "What's the point, we're back on holiday in another four or so weeks?" How's that going to play out? Did any thought at all go into this idea?

Now, this isn't to say that there aren't arguments for shaking up how we do school terms. A lot of people are very critical of the length of the summer holidays... although at six-ish weeks they're hardly as bad in NZ as in some countries. But it's still something we talk about. I remember, actually, that everyone used to be impressed with my handwriting at primary when we got back to school. It was only later that I realised they basically didn't write anything over the holidays. I did. It is possible that a shorter cycle of holidays could have its advantages. I'm just not sure when you'd time these holidays to avoid problems like what I mentioned. But, for the most part, I don't think we need to change our holidays. We may need to provide some more funding to schools for heat issues, though.

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