The Instigator
imabench
Pro (for)
Winning
6 Points
The Contender
InVinoVeritas
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Winter break is good for students and schools

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
imabench
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/13/2011 Category: Education
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,061 times Debate No: 19831
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)

 

imabench

Pro

I believe that it is a good thing that schools close for a few weeks at the end of December and start of January for both students and the schools. Con must offer evidence suggesting otherwise.

Con may use opening round for arguments or for an introduction
InVinoVeritas

Con

(Introduction)
Pro argues for Winter break. Con argues against Winter break.

"Schools," I assume, constitutes institutions of all levels of schooling, including university-level.
"Students" refers to those who are enrolled at said institutions.

Much thanks to the opponent for putting forth this debate subject. I too am a university student and can relate to it. :)
Debate Round No. 1
imabench

Pro

I will break my argument into 4 main arguments

1) Holidays/Family.
Winter break encompasses 3 of the most beloved holiday's and celebrations among Americans. Christmas, New Years Eve, and Hanukkah. All three of these holidays are the largest holiday's where families travel to be together, and with winter break students are granted the opportunity to enjoy time off from school to spend it with their family over the holiday's. If Winter Break was not in place then the amount of time students have to spend with their families over the holiday's would plummet from a combination of being at school and being stuck doing homework. Winter Break is good because it helps students enjoy their family ties during the holiday's

2) Mental exhaustion.
Anybody still in school can relate to how exhausting the first few months of school can be, even with weekends. Winter break is a long revered time off by students who may be feeling pressured from a relentless 3 and a half month siege of homework, tests, and high school drama as well. Winter break gives mentally exhausted students an extensive amount of time to get themselves back together, maybe restock on school supplies, and become re-energized in general. If Winter Break was not in place students would labor on tirelessly until Spring Break leaving students with 6 almost non stop months of dealing with homework, grades, teachers, etc.

3) School operational costs.
One of the biggest things that eat out of a school's yearly budget is the cost to pay for teachers, staff, administrators, and just to get the school running 5 times a week. Winter Break allows schools to cut back on their operational costs which eases the burden that schools face financially. Without Winter Break schools would be spending a lot more money that they often dont have much of anyway which could affect the quality of education the school can provide for the rest of the year because of financial constraints.

4) Students can still learn. Think back to the first winter break you had when one of your teachers gave you an enormous project that would be due when school resumed in January. For me it was a project in World Geography where students had to build a clay model of an African country and place stuff on it to highlight where the countries resources, major cities, and conflict zones were located in. I ended up with Egypt and while researching for these things in the clay model project I learned a good amount of stuff about Egypt's resources, location of major cities along the Nile River and the Mediterranean Sea, and areas of conflict close to its border with Israel.

My point is Winter break still allows student to absorb more information even when schools are closed for well over 2 weeks straight.

I will end here for now :)
InVinoVeritas

Con

A response to Pro's assertions:

1) It is understandable that students need to stay home to celebrate these important holidays with their families, but we must remember that winter break covers a very large span of time to allow Jewish and Christian students to celebrate, while people who have religious beliefs that are less prominant in our culture (e.g., Islam) typically have no days off for their important holidays. University of Miami students and State University of NY at Binghamton students get over a month off for winter break... [1] [2] By allowing winter break to exist, universities are shortening academic semesters, thereby taking away from the depth and amount of content of students' courses. This, in the end, adversely affects students, whose education is being sacrificed. Also, this especially hurts many nonreligious students who do not celebrate Christmas or Hannukah. The only reason why we have these specific holidays off is because we are in a Judeo-Christian area in the world. Because of this, we completely disregard the religious values of the Islamic community; most institutions of learning in North America do not have school breaks for Ramadan. Also, we completely ignore the religious beliefs of very small minorities; for example, there are no schools in North America for those of the Voodoo faith, who celebrate the Day of the Dead (Nov. 1-2.) [3] The only holiday that there should perhaps be a several day-long break for is New Years, since it is very secular and universal. Classes should continue on religious holidays; teachers/professors on religious leave should not be paid during their absence and should be subsituted by other instructors, and students who are absent should be expected to make up classwork.

2) Mental exhaustion? US students aren't worked even close to as hard as those in many other countries. Through more rigorous and challenging school curricula, other countries are teaching their student more effectively and are thereby defeating the United States in international education rankings. When 34 countries were considered, the US "ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science, and 25th in math." [4] Since the instatement of No Child Left Behind, states have been reducing the difficulty of their respective state examinations and emphasizing a curriculum that is arguably more lax than any in the United State's history; states (e.g., Missouri) inflate grades by lowering standards. [5] How do we fix this trend and get our nation back on top? We can get rid of winter break so that school curricula could be extended and more material could be fit into them so that students are able to acquire more knowledge, which would certainly boost our position in the rankings and keep our country ahead when it comes to technology and scientific advancement, as it had been in relatively recent history.

3) Proper funding of schools is a separate issue. Money should not get in the way of providing an adequate education of students, and policies should be revised in order to change that. A lack of money is not an acceptable justification for depriving students of an education Moreover, education spending from the government should increase in order to fund schools, especially during times like these, when our education system is sinking in international rankings, as stated in the prior argument.

4) Most students are not autodidacts and need a proper teaching environment in order to efficiently acquire knowledge. Students learn by themselves year-round; they learn how to do the laundry, how to comb their hair, how to read by themselves... But if acquiring academic information were so easy, students would not have to go to school and just stay home all year teaching themselves all of the coursework. Students would benefit far, far more if they were to continue attending school and being properly instructed over winter break than if they stayed home and built clay models of Egypt.

Winter break should not exist. It discriminates against less major religions who do not get breaks for their holidays, it robs students of a stronger education, and there were no break, curricula could be extended, thereby improving overall educational performance of students and allowing the US to climb back to the top of internation education rankings, back into its position of power.

[1] http://www2.binghamton.edu...
[2] http://www6.miami.edu...
[3] http://www.wehaitians.com...
[4] http://www.usatoday.com...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...


Debate Round No. 2
imabench

Pro

1) Winter break is not meant just for Judeo-Christian holidays, there are many other holidays that are allowed to be practiced by many other religions over the course of Winter break

Arabic New Year - The Arabic calender is about 10 to 11 days shorter than the one we use, so that means the date of the Arabic new year moves up a week and a half every year. From 2008 - 2009 the Arab new year coincided with Winter break so for a period of time Winter break did honor Arabic beliefs, and this will be true again in the future when the cycle once again coincides with Winter Break

Winter Solstice - Celebrated by a number of Pagan religious peoples whose religion makes up a very small part of America religion total.

And some schools do respect Muslims and their holidays if the Muslim population is large enough schools do show courtesy towards them as well.
http://espn.go.com...

So Winter Break can be applied to people outside Judaism and Christianity and schools do show courtesy towards populations of other religious affiliations.

2) " US students aren't worked even close to as hard as those in many other countries."
The average length of the US school year is 16th overall in length in a world where there are close to 200 countries...
16/200 = .08 = 8% = The US is in the top 10% of the world for longest school years which can be used to imply that US students compared to the rest of the world work very hard.

http://www.northjersey.com...

"When 34 countries were considered, the US ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science, and 25th in math." Your comparing the US to 34 countries and not the entire world and the statistic you cited only includes the most educated in the world. When you again factor in that there are close to 200 countries,

US Reading = 14 out of 200 = top 7%
US Science = 17 out of 200 = top 9%
US Math = 25 out of 200 = top 13%

So US education is still well off compared to the world ranking consistently in the top 15% of the world in all categories, but wait a sec.......... Does longer school years necessarily mean better results?

The US is ranked 16th for longest school year but in educational performance overall they rank 19th in overall educational performance by the time people hit 12th grade...
http://4brevard.com...

List of countries with shorter school times but still performed better than the US,
Sweden,
Denmark,
Switzerland,
Iceland,
Norway,
Australia,
Canada,
Austria,
Slovenia,
Germany,
Italy,
Russia,
Lithuania,
Czech Republic.

All of these countries have a better academic performance than the US but still have shorter school years than the US does. Do countries with longer school years rank better than the US?

Japan - no
South Korea - no
Israel - no
Luxembourg - no
Netherlands - yes
Scotland - no
Thailand - no
Hong Kong - no
England - no
Hungary - yes
Swaziland - no
Finland - no
New Zealand - no
Nigeria - no
France - yes
http://4brevard.com...
http://www.northjersey.com...

So longer school years do not necessarily equal better quality education by the time of 12th grade contrary to what the Pro implies.

Unrelated note - You claim that "no child left behind" is the root behind US education problems but to fix the problem you propose NOT repealing no child left behind and instead choosing to cancel winter break so that there is more time to fix the problem.... Why not just repeal NCLB? Longer school semesters dont necessarily mean better educational results.

3) Money shouldn't be an issue in providing a good education, but it does, and that cannot be denied.
http://www.thedailybeast.com...

On the other hand you brought up a good argument for me for my side of the debate. If winter break were canceled than school budgets would be put under an even larger strain than they are right now, and the government would toil over increasing the education budget when recently the government has only been CUTTING education.
http://www.guardian.co.uk...

4) You are stating that a majority of students are completely unable to learn anything unless in a school environment, but schools almost routinely assign students to do assignments over winter break that are completed. They range from lengthy english assignments over books they read in class, math projects meant to reinforce their knowledge in a particular field, a history project or these days a history power point bringing light of an obscure part of human history, sometimes classes want you to simply read books over the course of the break and this applies during winter AND summer vacations. Science fair projects, reports about elements, classifications and research of plants are a few things assigned over Winter Break in science classes too. My point is that schools routinely and successfully keep students on their toes by giving them ample amounts of homework over these breaks which help them learn quite a bit.

To summarize:
- The Pro thinks that Winter Break discriminates against lesser religions when I have shown they do not,
- The Pro thinks that Winter Break should be abolished to help the US score better internationally compared to other countries when I have shown that longer curriculum's don't necessarily equate to better scores
- The Pro thinks that the costs of operating schools over Winter Break should be disregarded and can simply be avoided by getting the government to increase funding when I have shown that school budgets are a problem that Winter Break helps alleviate by reducing operational costs and that the government has recently only been cutting educational budgets to the states.
- The Pro thinks that students cannot learn anything over Winter Break when I have shown that students are routinely kept up to academic shape by being assigned any one of a vast amount of homework assignments over Winter Break.
InVinoVeritas

Con

1) "From 2008 - 2009 the Arab new year coincided with Winter break so for a period of time Winter break did honor Arabic beliefs, and this will be true again in the future when the cycle once again coincides with Winter Break"

By coincedence, THAT YEAR, it happened to coincide with the normal winter break time. Yes, by coincidence... The opponent fails to make a point here. Clearly, major holidays for religions outside of Christianity and Judaism are ignored by the education system.

Winter Solstice isn't a holiday in itself, but rather a position of the earth's axis, although some religions, such as Paganism, do make it into a religious festivity. There is no break specifically designed for the Pagan faith... Winter Solstice just happens to fall into time span of winter break.

According to pro's source, there is a school in Detroit that happens to take into account Muslim faith into school policy. I am glad that PRO was able to research thoroughly enough to find one of the small handful of schools who do. Very, very impressive.

2) The US school year is 16th overall, you say? That's very interesting, because PRO's source says nothing to support that. PRO must have assumed, for whatever reason, that the statistics presented there were ranked. The website however does not indicate that these countries are ranked. This is simply the opponent's misinterpretation of a source.

Also, who ever said that they were the 34 most educated countries? PRO completely fabricated this claim.

But, anyway, why would we be comparing the US' education system to those of third-world countries? We are competing against highly-developed societies like China... Why would we compare our education system to that of Sierra Leone? Who cares how we compare to all 200 countries? It's all about how our education system compares to those of other highly-developed powerhouses, and so far, we are not faring well.

I would love to respond to some of the rest of this argument, but it's based on the fabricated "16th for longest school year" statistic that I have yet to see proven in your sources.

I see the trend you are trying to present, but it just shows that there are certainly more factors than length of school year that affect quality of education. These statistics show an illusory correlation between length of school year and educational quality, since your argument completely ignores other factors that may have played a role in this trend. The only way to prove causation is to show experimentally that, after increasing or decreasing the school year in a specific country, specific results came about.

3) The issue at hand is not monetary feasibility. We are discussing if it would be beneficial to education. No context was given in regards to time, so we might as well be arguing about extending the school year in 400 years, when, hypothetically, the economy is booming and the world has become Utopia. Monetary matters are completely irrelevant since we are not talking about immediate reform, here and now, so let's do ourselves a big favor and take them out of the equation.

4) Assigning students homework and projects effectively supplants a teacher-student learning environment in the classroom? An interesting claim made by PRO. (By the way, I never said that "students are completely unable to learn anything unless in a school environment." Do not shift the claims of my argument for the sake of your own.)

I look forward to the opponents refutation... and (hopefully) clarifications.
Thank you.

Debate Round No. 3
imabench

Pro

1) Rather than focus on the religious part of this argument I would like to bring back the original point about how during winter break students of all religions are given time off to spend time with their families over the vacation. As for the religious part of this argument though, major holiday's in schools are only considered major if they are celebrated by a large proportion of the student body, Arab holidays in schools with large Muslim populations are not ignored or specifically discriminated against and I have provided an example of that.

2) The source shows the current lenghts of the school years of a variety of countries in order of decreasing length...
- 1 - Japan at 243 days
- 2 - South Korea at 220 days
- 3 - Israel at 216 days
- 4 - Luxembourg also at 216 days
- 5 - Netherlands - 200 days
- 6 - Scotland - 200 days
- 7 - Thailand - 200
- 8 - Hong Kong - 195
- 9 - England - 192
- 10 - Hungary - 192
- 11 - Swaziland - 191
- 12 - Finland - 190
- 13 - New Zealand - 190
- 14 - Nigeria - 190
- 15 - France - 185
- 16 - United States - 180

So by using simple math you can see how the US in terms of length of school year is ranked 16th..... I dont know how the Pro can claim that I am mis-interpreting evidence....

As for the 34 country accusation by the Pro, it came from the Pro's own source...
http://www.usatoday.com...

The reason I am comparing America to the entire world is because you are trying to paint a false picture that America is towards the bottom when it comes down to the overall education of students because you were only examining the top nations to compare it to. By comparing the US to the entire world I am showing that the US has always been in the top 15% of the world to show that the US educational system isnt as bad as you are trying to claim.

Lastly on this point, YOU were the one claiming that curriculum length directly translates into better results.
"How do we fix this trend and get our nation back on top? We can get rid of winter break so that school curricula could be extended and more material could be fit into them so that students are able to acquire more knowledge, which would certainly boost our position in the rankings and keep our country ahead"

I was showing the flaw of your logic and therefore proved that your idea that abolishing Winter break to extend the school year to increase results wouldnt work by showing how of the countries that do have longer school years than America, only a fraction of the still have better scores...

3) My original argument that abolishing Winter Break would place a larger budget burden on schools has still not been offered a valid counter argument, the Pro just keeps trying to ignore it, claim money has nothing to do with it, and that this argument just be dropped for no valid reason.

4) "Assigning students homework and projects effectively supplants a teacher-student learning environment in the classroom? An interesting claim made by PRO"

Teachers assign homework, students complete it when classes start, Its simple logic.... If you think that this isnt true then why do teachers give homework at all during school days? You keep questioning that students do not learn material as well as they otherwise would in a classroom environment, yet the entire system is made up of giving students work to do outside of schools at home to then learn the material and go over it the next day in class. Winter break does the same thing just with a lot more time in between classes.

Its called "homework" so that students do the "work" while at "home", and the entire school system is built off it.

To summarize my points

1) Winter break allows students to spend time with their families, and schools do not discriminate against non Christian Judeo religious affiliations when the student body consists of a large enough population for a religion. If Winter Break were abolished the time that students could spend with their families and relatives would be reduced by a considerable degree

2) Students do work much longer than the rest of the world does and are therefore more exhausted when Winter break comes about. Also abolishing it and making the school year longer and may not raise performance as was implied by the Pro.

3) If schools were to continue operating over Winter Break than an increased burden on budgets of schools would cost them to possibly cut classes, teachers salaries, staff salaries, new books, upgrades, school maintenance, etc. but allowing for a Winter Break allows schools to spend money that they do have more strategically on education of the actual students.

4) Students can still learn school material while enjoying Winter Break, and actual academic stuff is learned not stuff like "how to comb their hair" like the Pro suggests is what they learn...

I thank the Pro for a great debate and I thank the voters for reading :D
InVinoVeritas

Con

REFUTATIONS:

1) In modern society, there is a separation of church and state; if someone wishes to take an absence from school due to religious observance, that is his or her decision... But that DOES NOT MEAN that his or her public school, a GOVERNMENT FACILITY OF EDUCATION, should be involving religion in school policy decisions.

Your example simply shows a school that has a student population that is predominantly Muslim and how it chose to allow Islamic holidays to affect its school's policies, as a result. It still disregards the religions of the minorities! Muslim students from most schools (where Muslim students are a minority, unlike in your case study example) have been able to celebrate and enjoy their holidays without school breaks and so should the rest of the religious world in the United States!

2) The US is ranked 16th OUT OF THE COUNTRIES LISTED. No evidence was provided that the countries included in the list are the countries with the longest school years relative to those in countries in the rest of the world. The opponent, however, made the illogical assumption that it is 16th in the world. Much of his argument is based on this huge misinterpretation of data.

The opponent stated in a prior argument: "Your [sic] comparing the US to 34 countries and not the entire world and the statistic you cited only includes the most educated in the world." Nothing in my source (http://www.usatoday.com...) says anything about these 34 countries being "the most educated in the world." The opponent misconstrues information and uses it to support his arguments. The foundation for most of his arguments is misinterpreted data.

I never stated that America is toward the bottom of the list of education systems of 200 countries. I was only comparing America to other countries who were ranked in the study. Since the US is a major powerhouse in the world, I believe that it is silly to compare it to all other countries (such as Tanzania and Madagascar) when it comes to education.

Yes, I still stand by the claim that extended school years would lead to more material being taught, thereby boosting our ranking and moving us forward. I was just saying that you attributed the correlation you presented in your trends strictly to school year length, when many other factors may have affected the statistics. There is NO CAUSATION; according to these trends, no clear-cut conclusion can be made about school year length's effects on educational quality. My logic is not flawed... The opponent seems to have difficulty differentiating between "causation" and "correlation."

3) The current instability of the US economy is completely irrelevant to the matter at hand. We are not necessary discussing getting rid of winter break tomorrow; no context was given in regards to time. If the opponent wished to discuss this issue with a specific time restraint, he should have noted this at the beginning of the argument.

4) "It's simple logic," states the opponent (ironically.) I reaffirm that students do not learn as much at home on break (even with homework assigned) as they during the school year, when they attend school and are also given homework assignments. Homework is not enough to teach students... Winter break takes away from classroom time for students, which is critical in most students' learning processes.


And in regards to the opponent's main points:

1) Again: In modern society, there is a separation of church and state; if someone wishes to take an absence from school due to religious observance, that is his or her decision... But that DOES NOT MEAN that his or her public school, a GOVERNMENT FACILITY OF EDUCATION, should be involving religion in school policy decisions.

And again: Your example simply shows a school that has a student population that is predominantly Muslim and how it chose to allow Islamic holidays to affect its school's policies, as a result. It still disregards the religions of the minorities! Muslim students from most schools (where Muslim students are a minority, unlike in your case study example) have been able to celebrate and enjoy their holidays without school breaks and so should the rest of the religious world in the United States!

2) The opponent states that "students do work much longer than the rest of the world does." This is based on the idea that students in the US has longer school days than the rest of the world, which the opponent has yet to prove. Moreover, it equates "longer school days" to "more work," which is a fallacy.

3) The current instability of the US economy is completely irrelevant to the matter at hand. We are not necessary discussing getting rid of winter break tomorrow; no context was given in regards to time. If the opponent wished to discuss this issue with a specific time restraint, he should have noted this at the beginning of the argument.

4) Students CAN learn during winter break, but the opponent has failed to prove that students learn as much on vacation as they do attending school. Hence, I reaffirm that students would learn much more from attending school than not over winterbreak.

The opponent's arguments, as a whole, are based on illogical conclusions and a misinterpreted data.

To sum up my claims...

1) Winter break is made to allow people of majority religions to celebrate their holidays, while ignoring those of minority religions. Moreover, public schools should disregard religion, since they are institutions of the government, and there is a well-established separation between Church and State.

2) Winter break makes academic semesters shorter, taking away from students' academics.

3) By getting rid of Winter break, schools can extend academic semesters, so students are able to practice material more and learn more material in the subjects they are being taught. Logically, this would improve student scores in the core subjects (math, science, language); this would lead to a boost in the quality of the US education system and an improvement in international rankings.

The opponent, the instigator, was unable to defend his claims and was unable to counter my claims. Therefore, it is a victory for CON.

Much thanks to the opponent and all readers.



Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by InVinoVeritas 5 years ago
InVinoVeritas
Eh, whatever. Let's do this. :)
Posted by InVinoVeritas 5 years ago
InVinoVeritas
I would, but the voting period is way too long..
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by 1Historygenius 5 years ago
1Historygenius
imabenchInVinoVeritasTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Basically, it does come down to the better arguments. I think that Pro also leaned with these better arguments.
Vote Placed by wierdman 5 years ago
wierdman
imabenchInVinoVeritasTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: I gave pro the vote because he made the slightly better argument by listing the names of schools who have a longer break but perform at a lower rate. This was not refuted by con, thus pro wins in the long run(but only by a little.)