I’ve been reading a lot lately about education reform. Some of it good, some of it not so good. Being an educator myself, I figured I’d throw my ideas into the mix. Before I start though, let me say that I have no idea how to best teach elementary school aged children. Though I spent a year tutoring them, that year was many moons and seasons ago and I do not feel comfortable even attempting to come up with an idea to best educate them. For as anyone with a peanut of sense in his brain can tell you, teaching a four-year-old is completely different from teaching a 15-year-old. I’d wager, I can say the same thing for middle-school aged children. I haven’t spent a lot of time teaching them either, so the idea that I would know what’s best for them is laughable . . . . If you aren’t picking up on my subtle hint about education reformers by and large then let me spell it out for you: If you are a reformer who has never taught then I find your ideas, for the most part, both laughable and insulting.
However, I have spent the bulk of my adult years standing in front of high school classrooms teaching teenagers English, reading, writing, journalism, filmmaking, and design. I’ve also done a few stints in the college classroom, which is similar to the high school classroom in many ways (currently, in the United States though, not enough ways). For a full list of my credentials, go here. Full disclosure, I’m only 37 and I earned my teaching certificate a few years after I originally graduated college, so ‘the bulk of my adult years’ doesn’t, in any way, mean I have the knowledge of a lifetime of teaching behind me. There are only 12 years in my rearview mirror.
All that aside, I am going to offer what I think is the best way to reform high school. For the record, I am open to suggestions and would be more than willing to edit/change any of my ideas before approaching a billionaire to ask for money to create this school.
Okay, so, as the title states, today I am focussing on the school day. Step one? Make it shorter. Hold on now. Teachers would still, by and large, work a standard eight-hour shift and maybe more in some instances. Students though, students wouldn’t start until 9am. They would be done with classes by 2pm. My class periods would be around 45-50 minutes long and students would have to take four a day. By 2pm, all classes will have been taken and lunch will have been consumed. But wait! The school day would not be over, however, all students would then have two-three hours in which to get extra help in study hall-like settings and participate in extra-curricular activities of their choosing. Think about it. Wouldn’t it be amazing for the student athletes to start practice at 2pm or 3pm instead of after school and have half of their night gone before they even get home? Wouldn’t it also be great for the coaches? Athletics aren’t the only bits of education that would benefit from this. What about publications? How about tech classes and/or clubs?
Speaking of that, I think I would require all students participate in some sort of extra-curricular activity. Teens need somewhere to belong that doesn’t have anything to do with family or a grade, you know? Why not a school sponsored club? In a perfect world there would be something for everyone. I’m working on that . . . . Again, any help would be greatly appreciated.
Teachers, of course, would be able to leave at 4pm, when their eight-hour work day is over; however, there may be some who choose to stay longer for clubs, etc.
To sum it all up, we’re looking at four hours a day of standard classes, followed by a two-three hour block in which students can get additional help in study hall-like settings and/or participate in extracurriculars like sports and clubs.
Maybe though, just maybe, I’m writing all this simply because I’m a lazy teacher . . . .