Con: Block Schedules


Elizabeth Chenok, Managing Editor

The clock ticks, ticks, ticks. Students sit at the edge of their seat, waiting for the class period to be over. Mentally drained from one subject, they have been sitting in the same classroom for an hour and a half. This is the life of a block schedule.
A block schedule entails alternating classes every day. So if a student has seven classes, on an “A day” the student will have four, and “B day” they will have three and a free period. Some might think, only three or four classes a day?! Amazing! But they forget to remember how long the periods are. In speaking with students from Piedmont High School (PHS) who have a block schedule, there was one thing in common with all their opinions, embodied in what PHS sophomore Tyler Ellis said: “the periods are an hour and a half long… Need I say more?”
Through these long periods, students must put all their energy and focus into one subject. It may be argued that in a non-block schedule, it’s the same amount of sitting, but with different classes. This is true, but the subject is changed and different parts of the brain are stimulated. “A definite downside of the block schedule is after an hour and a half of one subject, it gets exhausting, and people often lose interest by the end of class,” PHS senior Emma Beisner said. This sounds familiar to Miramonte students who have a 50 minute period. Add 40 more minutes and imagine how frustrated and uninterested students might become.
Classes are not every day, block schedules allow less spread out time with students. According to psychology, through the spacial effect, memory is best encoded (aka transferred into long-term storage) slowly over time, versus learning things in large chunks. A regular schedule, where classes are shorter and more spread out, students can retain learned information much more effectively.
Although block classes occur less frequently, they still cover the same information. Imagine a Miramonte AP Biology student taking double the amount of lecture notes in one period. Or any class for that matter. The harder the subject, the more crammed the information becomes, and less is learned. This is also more rushed than what already can seem like a jam-packed curriculum.
Miramonte has a testing system in which subject test days are spread out, so a student is (according to school guidelines) not supposed to have more than two tests in one day. “You could have all your easy classes on one day and all your hard classes on another day. It’s not balanced out easily,” PHS senior Sami Barney said.
Because classes are spread out every other day, students have more time to avoid their homework. “It’s a procrastinators dream,” PHS senior Marie St. Claire said. Because there is more time to avoid homework, especially with an unbalanced schedule, some nights might be completely overloaded if a student puts work off.
Though it has upsides, overall a block schedule would be detrimental to student learning at Miramonte.