By Chris Barts
High schools in this country are not living up to expectations. Scores in math and science, the two most important high school level subjects, are down. It is apparent that students are not getting the education they need to contribute in todays society. Teachers across the country are striking, a sign that all is not well with them, either. But there is a solution, one that could help remedy all of these problems and more, and it is in use by various schools across the country.
The solution is block scheduling. Block scheduling is basically dividing the day into fewer periods per day, and making the periods themselves longer. This can be implemented various ways, but a common one calls for having four one and a half hour blocks per day, with one of the blocks being divided into various lunch times and study hall/advanced placement/extra-curricular classes. In this schedule, each class is held every other day, much like college courses are held now.
This allows for numerous advantages. For instance, teachers now have enough time to go over every class more thoroughly, lecturing and answering questions for one segment of the block, and allowing students to work on assignments for the last segment and answering questions on the assignments during that time, for example, and in science classes, students would be able to do more hands-on work, putting the lessons learned in their seats into practice by actually conducting experiments. Both examples have the ability to increase comprehension among the students by allowing them more time in class to ask the teachers questions on the material.
Another advantage is that the day is less rushed, as the amount of time in the halls is reduced, and teachers feel more like they can answer questions and teach the material instead of racing the clock to get through lesson plans. Stress reduction helps in numerous ways. It prevents certain health problems, reduces violence, and generally allows for a more congenial environment, one much more conductive to education.
Finally, students will be able to take advantage of the class periods within the block divided up for lunches. Advanced students will be able to use them to take college-level classes, gaining important credits, average students will be able to use them as study halls to do assignments and receive teacher input, and below average students will be able to use them to get special help from teachers, aiding their comprehension and improving their chances.
Block scheduling is a very interesting solution to problems all high schools face. But it is not a quick fix. It might cause some disruption, as teachers will have to alter their methods to adapt to this change, but if it helps students, that is what matters, regardless of minor short-term costs. However, it works, the only criterion that counts. As always, education about the problems and solutions is the answer.