Fiddling with Time in Classrooms: Whatever Happened to Block Scheduling?

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Time in school is a precious resource. State policymakers determine how many days a year schools will be open; district boards of education decide when school will open in the morning and adjourn in the afternoon. And classroom teachers constantly check the clock on the wall, their wrist watches, or other time pieces to insure that current pace of lesson will end tidily when the bell rings. Policymakers, practitioners, parents, and researchers assume that how much time students spend with teachers in class makes a difference in what is learned, the classroom climate, while growing the all-important relationship between teacher and student. Thus, time in school is both scarce and precious (see here, here, and here).

No surprise, then, that given these assumptions about the importance of time state and district policymakers–the U.S. has a decentralized system of schooling rooted in 50 states and more than 13,000 districts–have…

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