New block schedules create controversy

The new block schedule has created controversy at BSM. Some hate it; some love it. Here are two perspectives.

September 30, 2016

Anti-Block Day

Our school’s new block day schedule is doing more harm than good. Twice a week, we sit through four periods a day that seem never-ending. The shorter lunches and many student complaints should make it clear that these 85-minute classes aren’t helping us.

Block periods started trending in the 1990s after testing concluded that students in block schedules achieved higher marks in cross subject attainment than those in traditional schedules. These longer classes do have some benefits, as they allow for teachers to prepare for fewer courses while working with fewer students, and also present students with more time for  reasoning and absorbing material.

Although there are proven benefits of block days, the detrimental effects these longer classes have on students far outweigh the benefits. During these Wednesday and Thursday classes, class periods are 45 minutes longer than usual, so naturally students zone out and lose focus more frequently.

In addition, whenever teachers are absent on block days, substitutes must teach these longer periods, which means more busy work for us. Even when there isn’t a sub, teachers who haven’t yet adjusted to the longer periods may resort to assigning meaningless work instead of presenting more material in an effort to fill the extra time.

When it comes to the homework load, the assignments due on Wednesday and Thursday are typically more extensive and time consuming, presenting another challenge for students. Although some students can manage their homework load more effectively with the block schedules, many cannot. The often bulky assignments assigned on block days can present a significant hurdle to many students, and not having every class every day makes it hard to keep track of what needs to be done and when.

Another problem arises for students who have to miss school. If a student misses a day of block period classes, they are essentially missing the equivalent of two days of school in those four classes. Making up both the regular lessons, additional busy work, and the various labs and big group projects assigned on block days can be arduous for students and can cause them to fall behind faster than they would within the traditional school schedule.

The new block schedule is inefficient, and we should switch back to the traditional school schedule for every day of the week because students have trouble adjusting to the extra time in classes and the homework load that block days bring.

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Pro-Block Day

Many students cannot stand the 85 minutes we now spend in each class every Wednesday and Thursday. Classes seem never-ending, pointless, there is a lot of busy work, and missing one block day could be the end of your life. But do not be afraid; there are many upsides to these “dreadful” days.

If block days eliminate the worst part of high school—homework—why wouldn’t students be excited? Having only odd-numbered periods on Wednesdays and even periods on Thursdays frees up significantly more time for students to complete homework compared to the traditional schedule. You could potentially have two days to get assignments done, meaning more free time for everyone. Even better, some teachers don’t even give homework on block days, so if you are wiped out from a day of extra long classes you can go home and sleep. If you stay on task, you could end up with no homework at all.

Additionally, teachers love using block days for in-class activities like debates, labs, and movies. For example, in Mr. Lyons’ forensics class, students had the amazing opportunity to go outside and study the decomposition of pigs, all while accompanied by Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle. Most of the time, these activities take up the whole class and do a good job of keeping you interested and busy. Teachers plan activities that will naturally fill up the extended time, often bringing in controversial and relevant topics to ensure students stay engaged the entire period.

The best part of these new block days is how much free time students get. With almost an hour-and-a-half long BSM hour, most students are able to finish a considerable amount of school work with time left over to find a homecoming dress online, play a game of basketball in the Great Hall, or meet with a teacher about an upcoming test. How you use your time is up to you.  If you have free hour in the morning, you can easily finish up any incomplete homework from the night before. If you have free hour at the end of the day, you can get a jump start on that night’s work. Some upperclassmen even have two hours free, allowing hours of self-guided work time. The large amount of free time that students are afforded on the block schedule helps make up for any shortcomings students might otherwise notice.

While many people have been complaining about the new schedule, these block days are actually your friend. Keep these benefits in mind next time you are sitting in class whining something about the longest 85 minutes of your life. Block days may seem excessively lengthy on the surface, but they are really designed to make things easier and more engaging for us as students. Make the most of them.

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