Monday, November 9, 2009

Easy Ed Reform II: Change the schedule

Neurological research -- sometimes called "brain-based" learning -- by a phalanx of researchers than includes Lynne Lamberg (published in the AMA), Kyla Wahlstrom, and Nancy Kalish, no slouch on research herself, referencing successful cases in Minnesota and Kentucky among others all the say the same thing: high schools should start later.

So naturally most suburban schools start at or before 7:30am. Students arrive on less sleep than they require, unready to do what they have come to school to do.

Want to raise your district's test scores, and/or ensure your students learn more? Bump up your high school schedule by ninety minutes. That simple. You may have to re-schedule football practice, and adjust bus routes, but isn't learning the whole point of high school? There is the puzzle of start times for other schools, but as Dr. Mahowald notes, elementary students need less sleep, and simply flopping the starting times for secondary and elementary education can accomplish this task, to the benefit of all.

(Note to Commonwealth magazine: feel free to follow my example of quoting the juried, published work of modern academic researchers to back up assertions. May come in handy next time somebody there is assigned to write a hit-piece on education and is reduced to pulling assertion out of thin air -- provided you can find any decent research to back up the attack du mois.)

1 comment:

James Patrick Conway said...

Gotta agree-I pushed for this as a student school committee member in Cambridge when it switched to block scheduling (also an effective schedule IMO). Also this conforms school with the hours that college classes and actual jobs start which would likely have less tangible, but still some realized benefits in preparing students, especially high school students, for the road ahead.

My one comment on sports, particularly in the fall, is that such scheduling would force practices to take place in darkness, eliminating some sports altogether. And with the obesity problem as bad as it is, and with some students college prospects hinging on athletic abilities, I wouldn't dismiss sports so lightly-even if I do agree with my University's former president that 'when I have the urge to exercise I sit down until the feeling subsides"