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Sunday, April 4, 2010

One school day includes less than three hours of formal instruction and practice. Which you can do in two.

If you look at class schedules and other school propaganda, you might think that a) students' entire day is filled with hour after hour of rigorous work, and b) even more is needed. But if you followed one student as an anthropologist might and actually kept track of time spent with instruction and practice assignments, the real number is a little less than three hours.

For most students, three hours of formal work is the most they can absorb anyway. This is an upper limit. And if you want students to remember and learn much more than a typical school student, you may decide on even less formal time.


  1. One of the biggest challenges schools face is the state or federal government dictating what they must teach and the time they must devote to it. Our small school was forced by the state to implement a small group advisory session. It's purpose is to make sure every student has one teacher who knows them personally. This is a great idea in a large school where some kids may fall through the cracks but in our school it is simply unnecessary. The teachers and students are together for nine years - they already know each other personally. But the state said it was required so they did it and as a result the kids lost a weekly enrichment period devoted to band or chorus or mentoring - whatever special activity they had selected. I like our local school very much. I attended and no so do my kids. They actually have some of my old teachers. What I do not like at all are people living an hour away in a totally different environment telling "my" school what it needs to do for my kids.

  2. When we shifted to learning at home with our kids, we were shocked at how little time it took them to cover the basics of the elementary curriculum -- less than an hour a day. That leaves a lot of time for pursuing stuff they care more about.