ThinkThankThunk

Dealing with the fear of being a boring teacher.

8

Scheduling Experiments: Open Periods Make Me Seethe

I blame the psychology of classes and grading. How can you expect anything but a union mindset in a system borrowed from the meat-packing industry?

Our school has a balcony. It gets used for all sorts of awesomeness. However, some days, when I’m wearing my cape and monocle, I can’t help but look down with vitriol at the writhing mass of students enjoying what I consider to be one of the most egregious symptoms of academic atrophy:

The Open Period

Like Mt Diabetes on the poor, the Open Period preys on the most marginalized students. Those that are having an impossible time carving a narrative out of required courses and electives. They have no hope when the freedom of choice waves a media-center couch in front them.

It hit me hard at a parent conference: the parent said, “Oh, he’ll do anything to keep his open block.” I laughed. Then I got that feeling like when you go over a speed bump you had no idea was there at bout 33 mph. Did my rear axle just drop out? How do I even get my alignment checked? What does a slipped disk feel like? WHYISTHEREASPEEDBUMPONTHISROADNOONEBUTMEDRIVESHERE.

Yes, I started to photoshop a monocle. Yes, I have better things to do.

I composed myself, which is a much practice talent of mine, and I continued the conference.

Think about it. Sure the open period is for studying, but what I see is a whole lot of youtube. Not good educational youtube, mostly just people getting hit in the nuts.

What does it mean for someone to want an open period? It means that time has become, like grades, more important than learning. This makes me crazy. I’ve already gone crazy one in this post DONOTMAKEMETYPEINALLCAPSWITHNOSPACESAGAIN (woah, that’s like meta-conniption)

Let’s face it, the American Teenager has become the American Teenager. The seat-time thing is unacceptable. No matter how you cut it, an open period means getting away with something. Is that really the environment we want to foster? Do we really mean to tacitly imply veiled under cords of null curriculum, that being at school somehow matters? Shit. No.

This scheduling experiment has become my new mission. I’m not talking about fancy private schools in New York. I’m talking about rural public high schools in Iowa, y’all.

Classes are out. Competencies are in. You want open time? I bet, we all need some, but do you really need 84 minutes per day from 9:46-11:13? Really? How about learning Japanese? How about making some art just for the hell of it? How about learning to spell the word “beautiful?” Shoot, I’ll settle with just using affect/effect correctly.

I don’t blame the students. I blame the psychology of classes and grading. How can you expect anything but a union mindset in a system borrowed from the meat-packing industry?

You Want Solutions? Yea, That’s Why You Come Here.

Screw classes. Screw prep time. Screw credits. Let’s get kids’ hands on some lists of standards. Let’s have them help us author them. Then, we’ll help them generate ways to get good, master, and demonstrate how they just owned some European history, cooking, and chemistry by making some hella-good sauerbraten without a refrigerator.

No timing. No classes. That project happened at random times throughout a day interspersed with 4 other projects. They came to me when they needed me. I came to them because I was interested, too.

Microphone dropped.

Shawn Cornally • March 21, 2012


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