Bring on the “Summer Slide”!

Arising as regular as the whine of summer mosquitos are now annualized calls by school administrators and educators warning parents of the “summer slide“.

The “summer slide” isn’t a fixture in the local playground but an imaginary bogey man that, allegedly, causes students to forget what they learned the previous spring in school.

Believers in the summer slide cede omniscient powers to it because when they test students in September, test results show students haven’t retained what they were taught scant months before. “Darn that summer slide!” 


Bring on the “Summer Slide” as well as the swim, beachwalk, campfire, bike ride, basketball game, etc.  These are good for learning and for mental and physical health.

What piffle. Believers in this bogeyman sowing educational malice across the land have got a lot of learning to do about … learning.

First, summer offers students a respite from classroom-based learning, an opportunity that many  yearn for when as they grind out spring in less-than-productive learning environments. Summer should bring many new and different learning opportunities to children and young people that nurture other kinds of intelligence than those pegged to test scores.

Second, it strikes me as self-evident if the teaching were actually effective when initally delivered, it would not so easily be forgotten. That’s a hallmark of effective learning. Interestingly, Dr. David Helfand, president of Quest University,  demonstrated a few years ago how top-tier university students routinely forget taught material, and quickly, because of the ineffective imprinting of rote-based teaching methods.

It’s true that many students lack opportunities for rich and diverse learning experiences in summer but that’s a sociological problem to be challenged and addressed.

In the meantime, welcome the winds and whines of summer, and help children get outside and learn through play, sport and numerous other activities.

As a footnote, tomorrow marks the start of Surpass 2015‘, our 8th Surpass (leadership) program for teens out of Camp Byng on the Sunshine Coast, Canada. We’re going to have a great week, experiencing Aikido weapons training, a Laughter workshop, a day dedicated to games, movie-making, puppeteering, hiking and more. See you on the other side of the summer slide!

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