Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Block Scheduling

I do no mind change and in fact embrace change when there is a good reason to change. However, when it comes to education it seems to me that they do it far too often and with little thought or analysis. In my opinion they need to define the problem, measure, analyze, improve and then control it. School systems seem to try one thing and then another. It is like a wave going across the country. The size of the changes can be fairly significant as well. Has a school system ever let anything stay constant for 12 years (the length of time a student is in school)? If not, how do you know the change is positive?

The human brain has changed little for thousands of years. The brain processes information the same way it did 10,000 years ago. We are basically dealing with rev 0. With that said, is there an optimum amount of material that can be processed at any given time?

Fort Wayne Community schools' is looking at changing or updating their block scheduling. They use a block 4 schedule where classes last 85 minutes each. I am not sure that being in class for 85 minutes is a good thing. For years I have been training operators and giving presentations and find that 60 minutes is about where you begin to loose peoples attention. Not only do you begin to loose people’s attention, but also you begin to overwhelm them with material.

With education, the last thing you want to do is overwhelm people. You want them to remember as much as possible that is presented. Exceeding their ability to comprehend and digest the material serves no purpose. It is not the passage of time that causes people to forget, but rather the number of interactions taking place. Therefore, saturating people with information serves no purpose and may possible cause more people to learn less.

You also want a variety throughout the day in order to create associations. Associations are linked to your senses. In many ways it is deja vu. Ever take a walk and all of a sudden you are reminded of something or you have done, heard or been there before? This is most likely because one of your senses is associated a given memory. Associations can be temperature, sound, color, touch and is influenced dramatically by surroundings. In simple terms when learning a given subject, you want to have as many different associations as possible with that memory so that it has a better chance of being recalled. Four classes per day are less variety than seven classes per day.

In my opinion shorter class room time and more classes are better. Frustration in one class can carry over into the next. To reduce the amount of frustration, I think shorter classes, but more classes per day are better. This will reduce the time frustration has to build before it can be relieved.

1 Comments:

At 10:07 AM, Blogger LP Mike Sylvester said...

I do not like Block 4.

I have also done a lot of training. Professional trainers are taught that 50 minutes is about the longest you can keep an adult's attention.

Most professional classes are 50 minutes of lecture and 10 minutes off...

 

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