Dec 21, 2010
Comments Off on Could You Do It?

Could You Do It?

75 minutes. 5 minute break. 75 minutes. 1 hour lunch. 75 minutes. 5 minute break. 75 minutes. Homework.

Could you do it?

Could you maintain a high level of focus for a day as a student? I failed to mention that you’ll be learning things that you have no choice over. Interested in WWI history, sorry, we are learning about the Roaring 20s. Too bad for you. Interested in creative writing. Sorry, we’re analyzing Shakespeare. Maybe some other time.

Each day, day in, day out, we are expecting our students to perform a mental feat, I’m not sure is possible. Engage cognitively in challenging material, almost non-stop, all day.

How long can you maintain your intellectual focus before you need a real break, or choice, or distraction?

I’m not thinking that it can’t be done, but I doubt it is the most effective, efficient learning model.

Consider a monthly staff meeting, teachers can’t keep focused and dedicated on information that is deemed pertinent to their jobs. I’ve even uttered the phrase, “Do I really need to be told this, can’t I just read it in a memo?” Sound familiar? And yet, our expectations for our students are such that they’ll have the ability to “hunker down” and “shut out distractions”.

Watch teachers “take breaks” during their prep time. How many teacher sit at their desk and zone out while students do seat work?

All this also doesn’t take in to account the need for creative time, an opportunity for ideas to marinate, a chance to sit and patiently ponder. There is no time for that as the next class has already begun.

I raise these questions as I consider the nature of the school day, the idea that the resource of time is not so scarce and yet, essential and most often used as an excuse for the lack of educational engagement. (Another blog post in the making)

Have we really set up our school day for success? Or have we created an impossible cognitive mine field?

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