Our Older Students Are Wired For The Night

Mamacita says:  Guess what; not every student is ‘more alert’ in the mornings; our older students are wired for the night. Believe it or not, many students are nearly comatose early in the morning and their brains spring into action later in the day. This is not always a result of staying up late playing video games, etc. Some people really are just wired for night. I’ve often wondered how different standardized test scores would be, if our students were allowed to take them at night instead of so early in the morning. Dawn. You know, when a lot of old people administrators are awake – is not beloved by everybody.

Late start times benefit teens

I’ve read in several places that while younger children are still usually early risers, the average high school student would greatly benefit from school that ran from noon till six.

That would have been so wonderful for a kid like me. Even better, for a kid like me, would have been high school from 3 till 9. P.M. I would have been wide awake and alert and ready to learn.

Sadly, such scheduling would not be possible for a variety of reasons, most of them stupid, such as some elderly principal saying “We’ve never done anything like that before.” Or some old coach saying, “When would we practice?” Like I care about that. (You can play games in the morning. From 7:30 till noon. You know, when you’re more alert.)

teens need more sleep

The most insidious reason of all, the reason many schools can’t have after-school programs, the reason many schools can’t have field trips during the day, the reason many schools can’t have after-school detention, and the reason many kids can’t stay after school for ANY reason, good or bad:

It’s because of the bus schedules. They are carved in stone.  school bus

I am not putting down bus drivers in any way. Many of them are working two jobs, and can only drive a bus during certain hours of the day. I am, however, totally putting down the mentality that can’t seem to separate convenience of scheduling from welfare of student population. Hire more drivers. Split up the routes. We all have to make adjustments in our jobs when circumstances force us to, heaven knows I did. When are we going to make adjustments in our school day?  For whose benefit should a secondary school day be planned?  Who is most important?  I vote for the students, but most administrations vote for the adults.

teens need more sleep

Another issue, of course, is the sad fact that many families rely on older kids to take care of the younger ones after school. Sigh. A different schedule would knock that into a cocked hat.

Employers would have to make a few changes, too. But what’s the difference, really, between a fast-food shift of 5-9 and 6:30-10? Some adult would get an extra hour and a half’s pay?

And, of course, many administrators are getting up there, age-wise. And old people keep early hours. Again, so what?

Teachers with young children? That’s a hard one, because I used to be one of those. But I adjusted for various schedules and so can anyone else. In this town, anyway, there are lots of daycare and sitters who are happy to work later in the evening. Not everyone shuts down at three!!!!!

But again. Adjustments for the sake of our kids. Why are they so hard to make?

Honestly. Sometimes I agree with Plutarch.

Plutarch's ass“Being about to pitch his camp in a likely place, and hearing there was no hay to be had for the cattle, ‘What a life,’ said he, ‘is ours, since we must live according to the convenience of asses!’ ”

What brought all of this up?  Every semester, my students talk about how wonderful it would have been, to go to high school and be alert. It’s not that they didn’t try to be alert. It’s just that for some people, 7:30 in the morning is NO time to be talking about algebra.

I am one of those people.

My name is Mamacita, and I am a night owl.

There are many like me, and we have no rights.

Call the ACLU immediately.

(I have a hard enough time talking about grammar at nine thirty. But my night classes? My 2:00 classes? I’m on top of those, and I even remember what we’ve done in them.)

Equal rights for vampires! Support the ERV!

And how about some plain common sense (or UNcommon sense, as it apparently should be called these days) when it comes to making out schedules for our older students?  A novel approach would be to take into serious consideration the biological makeup for the teen brain and body.

The preferences of adults should have nothing to do with it.  If educators really want what’s best for the students, how about we put our money where the facts are, not some elderly administrator’s personal preference.  Or a sports schedule.

Schedules can be modified.

And an extra half hour or so on the schedule of a bus driver or cook would be more than amply justified (morally and ethically, and I know neither of those words mean a whole lot to people who define education by money) by the benefits to the most important aspect of any and every school: the students themselves.




Our Older Students Are Wired For The Night — 1 Comment

  1. From a fellow night owl, I say Amen, Sister! Have been at this for 30 years, and in the 70’s, it seemed as if kids went to bed earlier and had enough activity in the day to be tired at night. Now, not so much. I don’t think the tv, computers, Ipads are helping with the natural tendency to be on a different time schedule for our teens, either. I have two sophomores who go days without sleeping and who have recently started taking Ambien, which scares me. It takes me about one day as soon as school is out to return to my night owl hours.

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