The Block Schedule: Will it Stick?

     By: Misha Agrawal

     Recently, the Millburn Middle School had the opportunity to experience a change in routine. The Block Schedule is a topic of debate in the school, and it seems that students have a wide variety of views about the schedule. To clarify, what the Block Schedule does is it lengthens the class periods from forty-one minutes to fifty-five minutes, in the process dropping two different classes per day. This has it’s pros and cons and brings many contrasting emotions in people. Throughout this article, we have several perspectives and thoughts on the Block Schedule, and interviews from a few of the students.

     Let’s start with some of the negative views on the Block Schedule. An anonymous student said, “Overall, it was a pretty bad experience for me. For example, on day C’s, it was really stressful. Our team had four academic periods in a row! That is four hours straight of just lessons! Everyone was very exhausted by the end of it and had no energy left for the rest of the day. It was also super hard to focus on class and we ended up missing some of the important lessons being taught.” The website life science states that the fully formed human brain is able to focus up to two hours, after which it needs a 20-30 minute break. It proves the students are working harder than is good for them. Two hours is already a lot for adults but for kids our age, four hours has shown to be too much. Another student who wishes to remain anonymous expressed their feelings: “Homework was very diverse in the block schedule. Some days we had barely any, and there was not much to do after school, but on the other days, there was so much, I had to stay up late at night just to finish it. I think because the classes were longer and we covered more topics, we had excess homework, especially if we had a lot of academic subjects in a day.” 

     Next, is the positive perspectives of the schedule. Another anonymous student said, “I thought there were quite a few pros to the Block Schedule. Some of them included lunch being longer and less rushed. Also, the class periods I enjoyed were longer, which was great!” ThoughtCo states, “Most good classes are at least one hour long. A one-hour block gives you enough time to dive deep into the material, but it isn’t so long that your mind wanders.” It stands to reason that these classes were more efficient and helpful. When I asked a sixth-grader who wishes to remain anonymous what their thoughts on the Block Schedule were, they said this: “You have more days to look forward to. I always looked forward to Day C’s, because some of the classes I didn’t like were cut out, I got a longer study hall and lunch, and one of my favorite subjects, Gym, was longer! With our regular schedule, it is the same every single day, and I think sometimes we need to mix it up.” Similarly, a class discussion I was able to have with one of my classes was how periods were more civilized, and less hurried. We were able to get deep into topics and have meaningful conversations that helped us learn better. 

     One idea I feel is important to address is timing. I noticed how one main factor in what led to people disliking the block schedule was change. Harvard Business Review states in their article titled 10 Reasons People Resist Change, that people don’t like a change in their routine because of how humans grow attached to things and don’t like letting go as that makes people confused, hesitant of more work, and intimidated. It illustrates how we are creatures of habit, and when we get used to and comfortable with something, it is hard to let go of it. The school started out with the regular schedule for the first few months. Going into a new grade was scary and stressful, and getting the schedule down to the tee was one of our main focuses. The time right before the Block Schedule is when I noticed most people were finally confident and warmed up to the routine. After all that time of struggle, and finally being rewarded, many feel immense pressure when they have to start all over again. Their mindset is naturally biased to what they are used to. On the other hand, if we started the year out with the Block Schedule, we wouldn’t be familiar with anything else, and when we switch back to the regular schedule, we would have the entire rest of the year to get used to it. 

     Overall, the Block Schedule had it’s good and bad sides. Many people are already missing it, and many hope to never experience it again. Many people believe there could have been some changes in how we drop the classes and when the schedule should have taken place. It definitely is not similar to our current schedule, and maybe that is a good thing. If this schedule is going to be permanent after this year is over, I believe the results will be primarily positive as it would be a new start to a new year. The Block Schedule is a definite possibility for the future of our middle school.