Easter: Holidays, 3rd termand time travel

The Easter holidays are one of the most popular period of the school year for families to take their first vacation. That’s because Christmas doesn’t count. In December, it’s a marathon of feasting, socialising and reunions with grandparents, siblings, uncles and even second cousins that leaves millions of families physically and emotionally exhausted.

Easter: Holidays, 3rd termand time travel
Fígura de ondas técnologicas azul

Unlike Christmas, which leaves no time for culture between shopping, meals and Christmas villages, Easter brings back pilgrimages to museums, observatories, educational programmes and workshops. And it’s the ideal time to do so, because during the summer holidays it’s also too hot and the desire for water and the outdoors calls for shorts and flip-flops, making indoor spaces, cultural visits and workshops less popular.  

Easter also has the enormous advantage of being the most important religious holiday in the Christian world, but you can get through it with a nice Hallelujah Sunday lunch, with the family or on the road, and without any major family or religious obligations. After all, Easter eggs can be found all over the world.   

Culture vs entertainment  

Let’s face it, there is no versus. Every institution with activities for families has long since learned to combine learning with fun. It all depends on the interests and profile of each child, but you can’t go wrong with aquariums, zoos and dinosaur parks.  

The problem is that there aren’t that many incredible aquariums or truly amazing Jurassic parks. Unless they travel around the world, families sooner or later find it difficult to maintain the level of excitement from one visit to the next. And after a visit to the huge, century-old zoo, there’s a mini-zoo with two monkeys and a few birds. And after Jurassic Park, there are some dinosaur footprints that experts have found in a quarry, which don’t exactly fill the eyes of an emotionally demanding child.   

But I’m exaggerating. Of course, there’s a lot on offer, but you can’t visit them without spending a few days travelling and, of course, away from home.  

In Portugal, from north to south, there are many natural areas to visit, increasingly family-friendly, with footpaths, trails and cycle routes, many of which follow former railway lines and pass through places once only accessible to intrepid explorers. Lush gardens and parks in Portugal’s largest cities, close to the overwhelming majority of the Portuguese population who live on the coast.   

But in recent decades, the cultural offering for families has grown almost exponentially, with museums, theatres and educational activities sponsored by a wide range of institutions. So even if you’re on your way to the beach, planning a day or two of other activities will help make those days truly memorable.   

While there are many studies that demonstrate the importance of school cultural programmes for the development of children from disadvantaged backgrounds or migrant families, there is also research that shows the positive impact of cultural and scientific programmes with the family.  

Several educational studies show that informal science learning benefits greatly from family visits and conversations in science museums.  

Families bring their culture and family agenda to these interactions and use different types of semiotic resources to help children make sense of an exhibition and understand scientific knowledge (Ellenbogen et al., 2003). 

3rd term and time travel  

We’re talking about holidays, but there’s always a shadow on the horizon, the 3rd term. It’s like a team going on holiday before a final. There’s a sense of suspension of time and worry, of trying to forget the inevitable.  

Even more so in our educational model, which is still quite linear and promotes a sense of irreversibility throughout the school career. Although there are an increasing number of projects trying to change this logic, the truth is that many of the anxieties of parents and students are related with the idea of irreversible losses, of changes in pathways that are difficult to reverse.  

And there is a reason for this. There is a window of opportunity for speaking, writing, learning languages more easily and, of course, for developing tastes and interests. But for the rest, we need to start creating more roundabouts in our young people’s school and life journeys. 

That’s why the “timeline” of learning is so central to e-Schooling, where every student, teacher and parent can identify moments of success, breakthroughs or those that need reinforcement. Contrary to what the second law of thermodynamics suggests, this timeline makes it possible to break through linearity and unique, unrepeatable lessons, allowing instant journeys backwards to any learning moment – content, materials or tasks.   

In this context, the Easter break does not necessarily mean that the learning timeline has to be suspended and left in limbo until the next stage. 

A break to regain strength  

The third term brings holidays for some, but it also brings exams, final grades, success or lack of it, choice of area, enrolment, new schools or even new cities. For any family, these are times of anxiety, turmoil and a lot of organisational, logistical and financial effort.   

The third term is when families traditionally think that most of the schooling challenges are decided. While it’s true that there’s a lot to sort out, that an exam can be a matter of luck and that anxiety can ruin everything, it’s undeniable that these results are built up from the beginning of the year.   

As we know, exams depend on this long-term development, which consolidates concepts and helps to find solutions and answers more easily. It’s because learning is a vast territory of mountains, valleys and plains that the e-schooling timeline records the entire journey, helping to ensure that students always have an up-to-date GPS with a network of key learning moments.  

But that’s a conversation for another time. For now, we need to rest and regain our strength and motivation for the big challenges of Term 3. 


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