Learning is the constant. Let’s re-examine time in 2012.

“Learning is the constant. Time and support – the variables.”

For far too long, it has been the other way around. I hear and say the above quote so often, that I forget when and where I learned it first. I believe I heard the first utterance from Rick or Becky DuFour, the Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi of PLCs.

Just today, I discovered an excellent article at Edutopia that addresses the core of the opening quote:

It’s Time to Rethink the Hours America Spends Educating

I wonder sometimes what would happen if we treated faculty initiatives as “student-like classes.” What would happen if we allowed every faculty member the same exact number of days and hours to learn/accomplish a new technology, process, pedagogy, or procedure? (I would have been “in trouble” more than a few times!) In my experience, though, we allow for different learning bases, paces, and rhythms for faculty – without (outwardly) tracking them as “regular” or “honors.” Of course, the same could be said of administrators and learning, too. (Use of Google Docs and email search features come to mind… “Can you re-send me that email with that attachment? I can’t seem to find it.”)

No, let’s not change the adult time-pattern to match the student time-pattern. Let’s change the student pattern to match the adult pattern – learning should be the constant. We did not all learn to walk and talk at the same developmental month, nor at the same pace. As adults, we don’t constrain ourselves to the same time progression as school learning for quizzes and tests. Why do we treat  students so differently? Efficiency? What about effectiveness, instead!

Perhaps you see that we are already in such a transformed place – where time and support are the variables, and learning is the constant. What do you think?

[Note: I’ve been in this discussion many times. With one colleague, he found fault with me for perceiving that I was demanding “limitless time” for school. For the record, I don’t think I am asking for such a boundless solution. However, I think the artists and scientists who are educators can devise more creative solutions than currently exist with the 50-55 minute class periods that dominate an approximately 180 day school calendar.]

2 thoughts on “Learning is the constant. Let’s re-examine time in 2012.

  1. I would like to see school based on mastery of learning goals. Let’s have learning be the constant once we know what students should learn and be able to do. With time as the constant, we then have to manage those who “fail” to meet the goals to move out of one grade into the next. Doesn’t make sense when students developmentally do not move at exactly the same rate. This idea should drive the development of curricula, etc. Thanks for stimulating this conversation and thinking.


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