No, I’m not referring to boring teachers. Rather, it seems that teenagers need to sleep longer to function (and learn) well. Science now says that optimally, teenagers should sleep 8 – 10 hours per day! California just passed a law forbidding school to start too early. Good for them for doing a little bit more what’s right for kids. Many generations will profit.
I remember that until I was 15 (in 1968, the Netherlands), I needed to go to bed at 8 PM (which I hated) and wake-up time was 6:45 AM (which I hated). After 15, I was allowed to stay up until 8:30 PM. No kidding. But when I told my Israeli high school kids, 40 years later, that mobile phones had not improved the brains of people into needing less sleep than I needed at their age, that 11 PM must be way too late, they laughed. Daddy is so old-fashioned.
Not only that, Israeli society trains everyone to sleep too little, too late. My kids sometimes learned through the night — just before important Jewish days as an extra effort at repentance. In the army, the more responsibility you get, the fewer hours of sleep they give you. (There’s a mandatory minimum of 6 hours (which is way too little) but not for commanders who frequently, in 3 days, don’t get a total of 8 hours.) While Europe drinks itself legless “for fun,” (I abhor all attempts, just for profit, to normalize the consumption of alcohol in Israel; no, beer is not cool and wine is not chic — to have those is stupid.) Israelis use legal speed all the time: chocolate (milk, cookies, cake), coffee, cola, sugar. A People of Speedy Gonzaleses.
Talking of too little sleep time for kids, scientists suggest that too much screen time is also not OK. I doubt it. These are all statistical correlations, not causal ones. No one believes that one becomes shy from being too much on the phone or pc. Rather, the causality must be the other way around. This is not to say that physical activity and playing/talking with friends are not crucial. When my kids pleaded to sit behind the computer, I almost always took a ball and said: out! All my kids gratefully have great social skills and endless amounts of non-virtual friends to every degree.
* * *
Actually, there is a divide-and-conquer reason for the different times people need to wake up and return home in the industrial world.
First, the manual workers will travel. Heaven forbid that an intellectual should have to share a bus or the road with them.
Then, primary-school kids. This before the white-collar workers go to and return from their offices. School is not just to train children. It’s smeared out over long schooldays and years as a form of state-sponsored “baby”-sitting. Not as a courtesy but rather, to make their parents free to join the workforce after which they can go home and care for ‘their’ kids for free.
Then, office workers commute, together with university kids.
Ever noticed, speaking of travel by the classes, that a crash in a fancy car may leave occupants unharmed while society is fine with unsafe cars that get laborers easily maimed and killed as if they are cheap and replaceable?