Class Periods

“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”

Albert Einstein

I don’t know what it’s like in other cultures, but schools in the states have class periods that divide the day into small chunks of time. How many periods depend on the whims of the school, but in my case, I experienced class in 7 periods in middle and high school.

At its best, a school’s goal is to create a group of well-balanced individuals. Naturally, time is divided into a balanced-diet of topics: History, Mathematics, science, English, Foreign Language, Art, and (usually) a study period or two.

You would think this system would be effective, but I think it misses the mark (not always, but) most of the time. The problem isn’t the division of time, but the implementation. Before I explain—caveat caveat caveat, I’m not here to criticize, I’m simply making an observation and suggestion potential solutions.

That being said—I think one possible reason school doesn’t always work is some (if not most) kids don’t understand why they are there in the first place. Why do my parents take me to this place? Why am I here? What’s the point? I think this is exasperated by everything literally being graded. There has to be a way to evaluate how your students are doing and how effective the school is. Plus students are young and naive—I know I was at least—there’s plenty of other wiz-bang things they could be doing instead. And somewhere along the way school loses its meaning. To a student, it becomes a place to hang out, make decent grades, and play sports. And to a teacher, it becomes a job to teach what you specialize in. And the parents are so busy, they mostly use school to delegate away from teaching their kids essential life skills. (Now that I’ve insulted everyone including myself…)

With a little tweaking, you could argue that class periods are a perfect way to also cultivate multi-disciplinaries. Schools don’t set out to create multi-disciplinaries, but if you think about it—and if you wanted to—school, and class periods, could be a perfect opportunity to pump out little renaissance hellions out into the world.

First off, I’d recommend each class period to deemphasize facts and focus on the fun, creative, and messy aspects of each subject. For some odd reason, “why” tends to be missing from class. Why learn math? Why learn history? Why learn how science works? Because they are each awesome! But despite going to a great high school, I’ve mostly discovered that on my own. Take math for example. Math is the language of nature. It’s how the world works. It’s how the Universe works. Look at anything—music, art, muscle movement, video games—and you’ll find math underneath the hood. Math is also super interesting when it’s combined with the personalities and stories of those who invented and used it.

Every subject has an interesting story. Every skill has a heart of history that breadcrumbs us to what we know today. Teach through story and every subject instantly becomes more interesting.

My final recommendations are to swap study periods, with (at least) three challenging but fun classes:

  1. Connection class(working title): Create a class that’s taught by someone who has a multidisciplinary mindset. Someone who is well-round in lots of different things and can teach how they are intertwined. And from that, how to think, create ideas, and solve problems.
  2. Curiosity class: Create a class dedicated to asking questions and cultivate observational skills. It’d be part about finding answers, but mostly about asking good questions and trying to figure things out. Why is the sky blue? How do birds fly? What is concrete and what are all the ways you can use it? I don’t know! Let’s figure it out!
  3. Make stuff class: A class where you build things with your hands throughout the year. You could take this class in many directions, but to keep it simple, perhaps it’d be project-oriented. Build a robot. Learn design. Grow a garden. Start a company. You name it.

If I were a kid in this school, I would have a bleeping field day.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #968

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