Upon my senior year of college in the fall of 1995, I learned about a new schedule at my sister?s school, Angola High School in Angola, Indiana. As a freshman, she was entering this method of scheduling by one of the first schools in Indiana to do so. By the 1996-97 school year, she was being sent to Angola?s ?alternative school,? for those who were at-risk of dropping out, reportedly because of her attendance record and poor attitude at school. By the 1997-98 school year, she was a high school dropout. In all three cases, she was registered as a freshman. While I as an educator know that the school by and of itself can not be held responsible, her attitude of school was clearly diminished by the block experience.
I also have other family members who are experiencing (or have experienced) block scheduling at Garrett High School in Garrett, Indiana, East Noble High School in Kendallville, Indiana and Prairie Heights High School in rural LaGrange, Indiana that have reported a severe dislike for the scheduling method given to them (the exception to that is a close friend of mine who attends Garrett High School; it is interesting to note that he likes it and is experiencing good grades and results and that he was home schooled until the 8th grade--I have no particular stance on home schooling, but I do think that fact is interesting). In one case, block influenced a cousin of mine who decided to graduate early in January of her senior year. She made that decision on the second day of her senior year, the first year East Noble High School went to block scheduling. Her dislike of school (which was never really strong in her personality) clearly caused her to make this choice, she even admitted it as being a factor.
It is also sad to note that I have teacher friends who have been block scheduling their courses who now state that it isn?t all they thought it would be; in a couple of instances, they are looking for non-block schools or are looking to go outside of education for employment. Again, there are exceptions: two business teachers I had reportedly like the schedule, and that their department has seen an influx in student enrollment.
It is interesting to note that teacher friends I have who have "blocked" their classes are reporting an increase in class size--to almost 30 or more per section. In a time when smaller class size is needed, block surely isn't the answer, unless more staff is hired, and we all know administrators are not usually in favor of increasing the size of a staff; it is politically unpopular in many districts.
Since 1995, I have started to do personal research into this issue and since then, and in my first teaching assignments, my dislike for block scheduling had been increasing, even possibly costing me employment. Now, after subbing in blocked schools, I do not know what I feel of it (ie, "the jury is still out). But I feel that is important to get this information out, because it is being sold as "the answer to student learning, a decrease in discipline problems, and liked by many...." (a paraphrase from educational videos I have been shown). Any educator worth their weight will agree, there is no magic bullet in education; and I give this page as a warning on such claims.
The following are links that I have researched on block scheduling and various statements from magazine and newspaper articles that I have found on block scheduling. In the case of articles, I have seriously condensed the information, but have included, when possible, the publication's bibliographical information so that you may find it for yourself to read in more detail.
If you are a teacher that is seeing the success of block scheduling, I congratulate you on your efforts and do not mean to offend. I just feel that this scheduling method is not the answer we as a society are looking for in teaching this generation. There are many out there who feel like me, who are dedicated to the profession and our kids, but are not given the opportunity to teach in a manner that is beneficial to our kids, simply because we speak our mind and bring up negative points of the block. How can I not be against it? I have seen it fail a child, and at that point, it is not a valid part of instruction and "school reform."
**The following is a more in-depth experience on block scheduling from my sister, who easily gave her comments on the block experience.
At Angola Middle School, my sister?s grade ranged from A-F. She reported being indifferent about middle school; depending on the day, she either liked it or hated it.
She first heard about block scheduling upon signing up for her freshman year classes. Upon starting that year, she said it was a ?confusing schedule....one that was hard to follow.? Her friends didn?t like it much either. ?We all hated it....classes were too long, it was hard to stay awake and there were no breaks....? She did report 10 minute passing periods, but they were never long enough to socialize, use restroom facilities and get from one class to another.
She recalled her first nine week grading period grades being C-F. She also stated her friends having similar grades.
By the time her freshman year had ended, most of her friends (around 12, she said) had already been sent to Angola?s Alternative High School. My sister was told that in all likelihood, she herself was heading there as well for her sophomore year.
I asked my sister who liked the block schedule and her response was simple: ?most of the teachers liked it, but the principals really were the ones who liked it. No students I ever talked to liked school under the block schedule. ? There were at least two times were student petitions were being passed around, asking for the schedule to revert to the traditional schedule the students had in middle school. Both times she signed it, and both times, she said, teachers found out about them and threw them away.
During her freshman year, visitors came into Angola to see their new scheduling method. The first time this happened, she reported having teachers tell her that ?it would be best if you told them [the visitors] that you liked block scheduling.? Although my sister told the visitors, if asked, she ?hated it,? she said she would make sure the teachers wouldn?t hear it, so she wouldn?t ?get in trouble.?
Upon starting her sophomore year, she reports that ?school never got better,? and that ?she hated it.? During that year, she was sent to Angola?s Alternative School, due to her low grades and her lack of attendance (I have been informed by our mother that she lost credits after missing four days per semester).
Finally, I asked her if she had anything she wanted to say, which would be posted on this page. Her quote is especially geared to anyone thinking about block scheduling:
?Think twice about sending kids to block scheduling schools, because I loved school, I always had some rough times, but I liked it. I just hated high school.?
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