SHARE
COPY LINK

EDUCATION

School holidays ‘bad for spelling and maths’

School holidays are a bad idea, at least when it comes to children's spelling and arithmetic in the short term, according to scientists in Austria.

School holidays ‘bad for spelling and maths’
Photo: Pezibear/Pixabay.com

A study by Graz University of 182 children aged 10-12 showed that after Austria's nine weeks of summer vacation, the children showed “significant falls” in these areas. It then took them up to nine weeks to recover.

“On the other hand their reading abilities improved during the break,” said psychologist Manuela Paechter, one of the authors of the study published this week.

This is perhaps because while children may spend their time on the beach reading, they are less likely to be writing or doing sums.

“How much time (children) spend doing cognitive activities during the vacation is therefore highly decisive,” she said. “All in all the study illustrates what an enormous role school plays in this.”

The study was published in the German-language scientific journal Psychologie in Erziehung und Unterricht (Psychology in Upbringing and Education).

Austria is above the European average when it comes to the length of school summer holidays, but pupils in Turkey, Estonia and Latvia have 13 weeks off, and in the United States they have at least 12 weeks. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

EDUCATION

Austrian MPs give green light to headscarf ban in primary schools

Austrian MPs on Wednesday approved a law aimed at banning the headscarf in primary schools, a measure proposed by the ruling right-wing government.

Austrian MPs give green light to headscarf ban in primary schools
Illustration Photo: AFP

So as to avoid charges that the law discriminates against Muslims, the text refers to any “ideologically or religiously influenced clothing which is associated with the covering of the head”.

However, representatives of both parts of the governing coalition, the centre-right People's Party (OeVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), have made it clear that the law is targeted at the Islamic headscarf.

FPOe education spokesman Wendelin Moelzer said the law was “a signal against political Islam” while OeVP MP Rudolf Taschner said the measure was necessary to free girls from “subjugation”.

The government says the patka head covering worn by Sikh boys or the Jewish kippa would not be affected.

Austria's official Muslim community organisation IGGOe has previously condemned the proposals as “shameless” and a “diversionary tactic”.

The IGGOe says that in any case only a “miniscule number” of girls would be affected.

Opposition MPs almost all voted against the measure, with some accusing the government of focusing on garnering positive headlines rather than child welfare.

The government admits that the law is likely to be challenged at Austria's constitutional court, either on grounds of religious discrimination or because similar legislation affecting schools is normally passed with a two-thirds majority of MPs.

The OeVP and FPOe formed a coalition in late 2017 after elections in which both parties took a tough anti-immigration stance and warned of the dangers of so-called “parallel societies”.

SHOW COMMENTS