Eye of the Tiger

MULLIGAN: Increased timespan of block courses benefit students

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mugshot_mulliganBY JOHNNY MULLIGAN
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Although my freshman year I had a bad experience with my block class and found the courses uninteresting, I have found a new appreciation for the system. Through experiences in other block courses, I have realized different aspects of the block classes that create a better class atmosphere and lead to better success for students enrolled in them.

The main reason I enjoy block classes is because the teachers do not have to rush through their material. Though the same number of school days, students have more time to catch up on homework. I could not survive AP USH without the split classes because the homework can take so long and usually we receive multiple reading guides at once. Rather than receiving it one day and then it being due the next, we get two days to complete the assignments.

As a result of the increased time-frame, teachers seem to more effectively plan out their schedules – giving students a much better awareness.

The block classes also allow a teacher to spend four weeks total on a unit rather than two weeks. Trying to cram all that information into two weeks would be difficult.

Although you learn the same amount of information, the key to memorization is exposing yourself to the same thing multiple times – over time.

This unique class structure allows the students who choose to review their work have many, many more expositions to the topics. Even if you do not study every night, when you work with the same unit for four weeks you go over similar information and time periods over the unit and can make much better connections between topics.

The year long classes also go all the way up to the AP tests. Having your AP class in the fall leaves almost an entire semester break between the test and when you took the subject. Classes in the spring also force the teacher to finish teaching a few weeks faster than normal. This creates different, but equal, disadvantages for those students. In a year long block class few days are actually lost to the AP deadline and teachers can have review sessions for the month or two before the test.

Block class length also allows extra time to fix bad habits. A student can have problems for the first nine weeks of class and still end up being successful. In a normal class after nine weeks you have the midterm, in a year long class that is just a progress report. Students can then look back and fix the problems they had before.

The classes also create much better relationships between students. We have all been in an awkwardly quiet socratic seminar that never really takes off. When you do not have a great relationship with the entire class students often shy away from publicly voicing their thoughts in a socratic. It gets even worse when the teacher refuses to give their input and the class ends up sitting in awkward silence with the occasional question and awkward few worded responses. Socratic seminars are some of my favorite things in my year long classes. The talks get much deeper and personal when everyone is willing to talk. We get much more out of these talks and they further improve class relations.

Students and teacher relationships are also formed much faster, and are strengthened over time. Although students might be wary around their teachers at first, they soon warm up to them and are much more willing to come before or after school to ask for extra help. This can immensely help students because they become comfortable with two teachers at the beginning of the year and it lasts until the end of the year or longer.

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