“Flip the thinking” about mandated hours?

As part of my recent university reading, I have been reminded of the unprecedented and immediate accessibility to information through the rise of the internet. Readings have also confirmed that information is socially situated and knowledge is increasingly constructed socially. I have also been reminded that school has shifted from the provider of content to just one context of information for students.

That being said, the biggest takeaway of recent readings has been the understanding that there may be a reticence of some to use information in a collaborative way to build knowledge through open source sharing. The video, Collaboration – On the Edge of a New Paradigm, retrieved from: http://vimeo.com/77240879 made a definite impression on me. In that video, Michael Wienburg points out that the internet is a giant force as a multiplier and sharer of information. This multiplier effect brings many different perspectives and, as Wienburg points out, you are almost inevitably going to make more advancements in responding to problems. However, people can lose control and ‘ownership’ of the process. As Elizabeth Start, founder of Harvard Free Culture Group points out, people that are engaged in traditional structures are often threatened by newer paradigms around ownership and control of information shared via the world wide web

This is where the challenge is. In school learning environments we may promote the multiplier effect of collaboration and connectivity; however, students may leave to become adults working for a company who is not OK with someone taking their information and do something else with it. Nevertheless, connected learning where students collaborate with others in new ways outside of ‘normal school hours’, “where learning was fluid (not governed by set hours and days)” (Lindsay, 2014), is an idea I hope to one day explore and challenge the status quo. Come to think of it……

….. here’s an idea. Why don’t we ‘flip the thinking’ about mandated hours in New South Wales? For example, in Years 7 to 10 English, Maths, Science and HSIE, there is a minimum of 400 hours per subject. Why don’t we limit these subjects to the bare minimum 400 hours? Yes, LIMIT them!

Let’s take the example of School “A”. At that school, they deliver 520 Hours of English, Maths, Science and HSIE across Years 7 to 10.  That is a surplus of 480 hours across the four subjects over four years; 120 hours per year! Just to give you an idea of what can be done with that time, Music/Visual Arts is allocated 240 hours over Year 7 & 8. LOTE is allocated 120 hours in Year 8. As per its timetable, that is 3 x 1 hours lessons per week for four years. WOW! What if the 120 hours could be better used to address our era of rapid change where using information to co-create knowledge and (hopefully) solve real world problems to improve the world? Maybe those hours could be used to explicitly teach and develop the five information literacies articulated by Howard Rheingold. Now there’s an idea that would challenge more than just a few of us.





Collaboration – On the Edge of a New Paradigm, retrieved 7 March from: http://vimeo.com/77240879

Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media LiteraciesEducause Review, 45(5), 14. https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM1050.pdf

Lindsey, J. (2014). Discussion Forum Thread 1.2. Retrieved March 8, 2015, from INF532 Knowledge Networking for Educators: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&forum_id=_14229_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_7274_1&course_id=_6636_1&message_id=_7155_1#msg__7155_1Id


3 thoughts on ““Flip the thinking” about mandated hours?

  1. Thank you Greg,
    You are always questioning ‘why’ and ‘what if’… I wonder … There are so many ways students can learn. How can we give them more flexible learning opportunities? I also wonder why teenagers don’t have the option of starting school later as research has indicated that early mornings are not favourable for their learning.

  2. Great provocation Greg!

    I also think about whether ‘hours’ is a beneficial mental construct – I know sometimes time speeds up or slows down in the classroom regardless of what the plan was. How can I manage time when the kids want to spend more than the 1.5 hours I allot to the Industrial Revolution because they are INTERESTED in it? What if they go away and look up YouTube videos or read books or visit websites about it or play games about it? Should I be trying to record those hours? Should I avoid placing that construct on free-range learning?

    Mandated hours is a useful way to support an accountability framework, but do we really think that every child needs the same time in a Maths classroom and all the others? How can we accelerate all students through a system of what Stephen Heppell calls “stage not age” where students are learning together but going at their own pace (supported by great teachers – they aren’t learning in isolation at all)?

    What if we found that cramming for mandated tests or summative assessments was actually a more efficient way of task-oriented learning and so we did boot camps before exams, whilst looking to project-based deep learning for the rest of the time?

    So many thoughts, and it’s not even 7.30am. Thanks Greg!

  3. Unfortunately School A – would be fairly typical of many schools. It is appalled if you can find more hours to give to each KLA to “cover” their course. We (including Principals) and Middle Leaders need to just stop thinking of their particular area – and think outside the square – i.e. what is beneficial to our students and the world they will be living – PBL – where still the “mandated” outcomes are covered – but also they experience “school based” learning in a new way – a way in which they are very much part of now. A great blog Greg. “Very brave” as Sir Humphrey would say!

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