Mid-Term Exam Essay
This essay was written in 100 minutes for a pass/fail exam at 7:20AM in the morning on paper. I've retyped it, with all of the mistakes that came with it (weird commas, strange wording, etc.) I apologize in advance for the quality.
There is a debate sweeping across the nation, seemingly involving everyone, from parents to children, teachers to students, and coaches to athletes. Should schools start later? That is the question on the minds of many. So, should they? From the currently available evidence, no.
According, to an article by Ian Campbell, Ph. D., and Irwin Feinberg, M.D., teens a go through a process called synaptic pruning, which reduces the number of excess neural synapses as teenagers age. This process decreases the amount of sleep required, calling into question the commonly cited 8-10 hours required statistic. No empirical evidence has ever supported this claim directly, making it appear to be an estimate by health and education organizations. Delaying school, according to Campbell and Feinberg, will harm schools financially, as the increased costs of transportation and lighting for extracurricular activities pushed to the dark will harm schools financially.
So, if the evidence is so clear, why does the debate still rage on? Because, there is another side. According to a study by the University of Rochester Medical Center, there may possibly be a link between better academic performance and delayed schools. The study asked students, aged 14-17, to report their sleep hygiene and whether they were a morning or night person. The teens were then tasked with recording any depressive symptoms in a journal. The study concluded that students with more sleep usually had better mental health. Keep in mind that, according to a New York Times article by Aaron Carroll, teenagers aren’t wired to improve their sleep hygiene, and that students who sleep more end up contributing to the economy more.
Although these arguments seem reasonable, there are still several issues with them. Firstly, during the Rochester study, teens were self-reporting and providing rough information. The subjects reported what anyone will, that sleep feels good. The argument that teens aren’t wired to sleep earlier doesn’t work either. There are many good traits that people aren’t born with. Just because teens naturally don’t want to go to bed doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t have them sleep. Also, any financial benefits seen in the Rochester study don’t directly help the school at all. After one looks at all the arguments as the majority of American schools have, one can see the value in starting school early. Starting school later simply doesn’t yield any measurable benefits.