Audrey Watters said:
we’re seeing calls for an hour: “A Genius Hour.” “An Hour of Code.” An hour.
Is that hour really that subversive? What does it mean that schools are applauded when students are sanctioned – for one hour – to follow their passions? What message does that send them about the rest of their day and week at school? Does an hour even count as incremental change?
Are these efforts transformative? And are they sustainable? Will these hours or days remain in place? Or will they face the same fate of Google’s policy, and be quickly set aside when schools’ goals trump students’ interests?
Don’t we need to think about how to re-evaluate 100% of time in order to make school more student-centered, not simply fiddle with a fraction of it?
As a parent I am regularly dismayed at how much time is outright wasted at school. How little my daughters learn in an average class, and how often I end up teaching them the content they should have learned in school in the evenings, when we should be enjoying family time instead of learning math and spelling. My kids are tired in the evening and yet learn in minutes what apparently was not effectively taught in hours of school — class time seemingly more devoted to classroom management than content. What particularly rankles is when I go to share a family movie on the weekend with my kids, they say they’ve already seen it at school. “Thursdays are movie afternoons if we earn points for good behaviour.”
“I thought Fridays were for that?”
“No, Fridays are for spirit assemblies and sports days or popcorn parties.”
Well, you get my drift. I just think it would be nice if class time were for math — where teachers actually taught some math — and weekends were for family movies with, you know, the family– rather than the other way around ,as appears to be the case now….
I look at the Hour of Code as a good start–-it gets kids interested in coding and helps teachers get comfortable with the technology. I don’t think code.org’s goal has been to stop at one hour. They want students to do more, but they had to start somewhere. Now there’s a twenty hour course. Hopefully teachers and administrators follow through with it.
I would echo Bryan’s comments as they apply to Genius Hour. Genius Hour challenges children to explore their own passions, and substantiates individual giftedness and the aptitude of children to make a difference. The intention here has never been to stop at one hour but to light intense fires that spark connections in the classroom and beyond.
While I understand Audrey’s concern, Genius Hour speaks of an attitude about the value and possibility within every child, one that must seep its way into every classroom. In that case what we do for children is indeed sustainable, For it must be.