Block Solution Lies in Middle

Block schedules inspire heated debate in the education
community. The concept has passionate supporters and detractors,
with very little middle ground between them. Even in the Gilroy
High School community, it seems few people see shades of gray when
it comes to block schedules.
Block schedules inspire heated debate in the education community. The concept has passionate supporters and detractors, with very little middle ground between them. Even in the Gilroy High School community, it seems few people see shades of gray when it comes to block schedules.

We think there’s more room to agree than it might first appear.

First, it’s clear that block scheduling is not ideal for some subjects, including math and foreign languages, subjects in which daily practice, repetition, and good old-fashioned drilling lead to better-educated students.

Second, it’s clear that block scheduling is helpful for other classes, such as science labs, shop and arts.

Third, it’s clear that some subjects can be taught well in either standard or block schedules, including literature, journalism and social studies.

Fourth, it’s clear that for block schedules to be effective, teachers must be able to use the longer block of teaching time effectively. Anecdotal reports abound of precious instructional time being wasted in block schedules.

Gilroy Unified School District trustees recently approved a study that will evaluate the effectiveness of the current block schedule system in place at the high school.

We hope the study group looks at what seems to be the obvious alternative, a modified block schedule that allows for daily class times for subjects that need it and longer periods for classes that benefit from that.

We hope that the study group keeps the reality of the GHS academic environment in mind as it goes about its work.

Given that math scores at GHS are chronically low, we cannot endorse any schedule that handicaps math students.

If this committee recommends any sort of block schedule, we also look for a strong endorsement of teacher training for instructors who teach block-scheduled classes.

If trustees opt to implement a modified block schedule next year, or to continue with a full block schedule, we also look for a commensurate commitment of resources by trustees, because without teacher training, a significant chunk of instructional time is likely to be wasted under a block schedule.

Finding the ideal schedule scheme is a complex undertaking.

We suspect, that like so many areas of life, there is no simple black and white, right or wrong answer.

Instead, we suspect the best solution will be found in the middle, home of the myriad shades of gray.

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