Learning unchained

For too long, learning at school has been tied (figuratively and literally) to the old bell schedule and the Carnegie unit. Fifty minutes to one hour per subject per day. Oh, then we got really creative and came up with the block schedule: 90 minutes to 2 hours per subject on alternate days.

Slowly, we are realizing that learning and time do not have to be conjoined. It is not only possible, but possibly much better for students to learn at varying paces, based on the subject matter, availability of resources, their particular learning strengths, interests, and weaknesses–moving toward common goals, but arriving from different directions.

If even the folks who gave us the Carnegie unit (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancment of Teaching) are rethinking its value, surely the rest of us can at least discuss the wonderful possibilities. To help move that discussion along, I recommend a recent piece by Shawn Cornally, “Why It’s Time to Eliminate Class Schedules.”

His critical thinking about scheduling parallels some questions I’ve been musing for while about why we cling to dividing students into grade levels.

Anybody know of U.S. schools that have replaced these models with more fluid ones? If so, what has (or might be) the reponse of parents and students? Do these types of changes make more or less sense in an age where learning is more blended with experiences an on platforms outside the brick-and-mortar school?

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