Many of us think that the more students study, the more they will learn.

The more time they spend in their chairs memorizing vocabulary or working on their essays, the better their English will be, likewise for other subjects.  For example, we see these kinds of things in the news often:

Photo by Natmandu

The after-school cram schools in Korea and Japan are vital to give students more time to study to pass their college entrance examinations.

Kids in the US just are not studying long enough.  Summer vacation should be eliminated.

Schools in the UK should have shorter holidays and longer school days.

There is even the mistaken perception that US students spend less time in school than our competitors, such as China or India, which is untrue, though it infers that students would do better, if only they would study more.

The more they study, the better they will do.  Right?


The OECD did a study of the effect of after-school classes, and found that the opposite was often true:

Students in countries that perform well in PISA spend less time, on average, in after-school lessons and individual study, and more time in regular school lessons, than students in countries that are poor performers in PISA.

and . . ..

Based on PisA 2006 results, learning time spent in after-school lessons and individual study is negatively related to performance.
Perhaps we need to think about how to improve our classes, our education in quality, rather than worrying about whether our students are going to school long enough, if we are going to school as many days as “other countries” and other such things.
It’s the quality, not the quantity, of learning time that matters most.

One other thing that the same report mentioned was that it was vital that the students know why they are learning what you are teaching.  This seems like the most common-sense thing in the world, but not every teacher thinks of this, or perhaps they do not know how to explain it.

It is crucial to make the most of learning time, and of the quality of that time, since it is often not feasible to increase the absolute numbers of learning hours.  The more important task woudl be to increase students’ understanding of why it is important to learn a particular subject, which would, in turn, help students to use their learning time more efficiently.