Six surefire ways to lose an hour in the classroom
Each spring 60 minutes evaporate when we set the clocks forward. Daylight Savings Time (DST) signals the start of long days, fresh colour, smell of earth and birdsong. But still, it hurts to lose that precious hour, especially when there are few enough in the weekend to begin with.
Of course we get an hour of DST back again in the fall, so it’s only a temporary loss. But for educators and students, how many precious hours of learning opportunity are lost in the classroom? Hours that add up to days, weeks, months and years over the course of a high school and post-secondary career. We could argue that this is a student issue based on motivation, attention or capacity: after all, learning is volitional and each of us is personally responsible. Still, I see this stance as at least somewhat disingenuous.
Even the most motivated, attentive and able students can find themselves wishing there was such a thing as what I call Classroom Savings Time (CST) during boring, irrelevant or unproductive “learning” activities. Here are a few tried and true instructional strategies to make them want to fast-forward the clock:
1. Give too much information (because “To teach well, we need not say all that we know, only what is useful for the pupil to hear.”)
2. Teach people what they already know
3. Lecture for more than 10 minutes at a time (TED talks might run twice as long, but after all these are some of the world’s most compelling speakers)
4. Permit student presentations in excess of 10 minutes each (see previous point)
5. Play a video for longer than eight minutes (and that’s still probably three minutes too long)
6. At all times stick to your script (textbook and/or lesson plan).
There is truth to the old saying: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” However, you CAN make him thirsty! There may be no getting away from DST, but we can all avoid CST. Students everywhere will be grateful.