EDITORIAL: Tam’s Schedule in Debate

By Staff

By next fall, the Tam bell schedule may change. The faculty are contractually guaranteed the right to periodically re-examine our school’s daily schedule and then decide on whether or not to alter it. The current review deadline is April 30. The teachers, who are set to vote over the course of one or more meetings before the deadline, will decide if they want to keep our standing block schedule (or some new variant of it) or revert to the default, a uniform seven-period school day from Monday to Friday.

We believe that to impose a seven-period bell schedule every school day would be a mistake. Such a schedule would be fatiguing for students, who would not only have to endure the mental exhaustion of constant, whiplash-speed classes, but would likely also be assigned overnight homework for all their courses every night of the week. A seven-period cycle every day would make students’ lives even faster and more over scheduled than they already are.

But a seven-period day would also be detrimental to teachers. Generally, periods are at their most productive during the middle, after pre-class chatter has subsided and before the flurry of packing-up starts. A seven-period day would inevitably mean shorter class periods in general, and a smaller window of optimal learning time. That minimized window would prevent teachers from tackling deeper topics or from assigning their pupils long-form projects, like science labs or performances. Teachers would achieve less with seven short periods each week than they do now.

Since fewer, longer periods are a more efficient use of school time, there is no apparent justification behind reverting to the seven-period bell schedule. No schedule is perfect; indeed, our current block schedule may not be the best possible model. However, without first eliminating the possibility of downgrading to a seven-period schedule, there will be no room for teachers to look into how to improve what already serves us so well.