Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Recess for High School Students

Teenagers are children, too.

This morning as I left my class and began walking across our school campus, I noticed two freshman students step out onto the quad with a soccer ball where they began to play. Classes were in session, but not for them. They were on their "off period." And that is one of the gifts of my school and a traditional bell schedule for high school students. They have some free time to play. And they need it.

My school has a traditional eight period school day, during  which most students take six classes. They have two free periods during which they can eat lunch, visit teacher's office hours, study, read, sleep, finish homework, and, of course, play. We have, as our principal noted to me early in my career, "recess for teenagers." And, it's wonderful. On our 80 acre campus with 3,500 students, there is a lot of freedom, as students are not assigned to be in a room during their "offs." And they handle this freedom with great responsibility ... and a little bit of childhood play, which is good for them.

It's not unusual to walk across our campus and see teenagers playing soccer, "wall ball," whiffle ball, frisbee, or, yes, even video games on their tablets. It is their time to do as they please. There are regular games of pick-up basketball in one of our unused gyms. And, as long as they are not getting into trouble, the students always have this time. They can leave campus, and many do to visit local stores for lunch or to hang out. But for the most part, our kids are free to use their time.

And that is the joy of our schedule, and that is just another downside and problem with "block scheduling." It gives teenagers no time to play.

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