Timing is Everything

In today’s Windsor Star, columnist Anne Jarvis made some commentary of observations reported by the EQAO.  Education Quality and Accountability Office.  She summed her opinion as the observations not being "rocket science". 

Essentially, it boiled down to looking at when mathematics was taught in high performing schools versus low performing schools.  The conclusion drawn was that student perform better in mathematics when it’s taught in the morning.  She correctly notes that Ontario has had a priority on literacy and most schools put their literacy blocks in the morning to address this.  The pigeon hole principle would force the teaching of other subjects to other parts of the day.

I can’t help but think that we might be reading the same opinions with the subjects reversed if mathematics was taught in the morning rather than literacy.

But, the conclusions do beg the question.  Where does this put the Arts, Science and Technology, Social Studies, Careers and Guidance, French, or Health and Physical Education?  Very clearly, through the identification of Mathematics and Literacy, we have two tiers of studies and the testing by EQAO reinforces the notion.

Are there not other alternatives?

When I started my teaching career, we had one.  It worked very well.  It was a tumbling timetable.  On a Day 1, subjects 1-2-3-4-5-6 were taught; on Day 2, subjects 2-3-4-5-6-7, etc.  Obviously, this was before semestering – each student took 8 subjects and had 6 on any given day.  You got to see students at each different times throughout the day – including the period just before lunch.   There were times when students and I dined together to get caught up on things!  (Usually my choice, not their’s!)  The timetable made for elements of equity, including a sharing of time missed due to assemblies, sporting events, etc.  The whole system, however, fell apart with the introduction of Co-operative Education.  While a school system can handle subjects at different times, experience in the workplace can’t.

I wonder if anyone is reading and considering Jarvis’ article.  Timing does make a great deal of sense.

Above and beyond this, it asks a bigger question.  Where does this put "homework"?  If we experience deteriorating attentiveness during the school day, how effective will assigned homework be if it gets addressed at 8pm just before bedtime?  Is its only purpose to ensure a good night’s sleep?

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