Compressed learning, Scrapping topics, and more. In this episode, Andy, Robin and Adam discuss if a four-day school week would work. Would kids underperform with extra hours added onto each day? Can we take any lessons from a previous guest? Plus, can Robin convince Andy to change to a 4-day week?
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Hi, I'm Andy Psarianos.
Hi, I'm Robin Potter.
Hi, I'm Adam Gifford.
This is The School of School podcast.
Welcome to The School of School podcast.
Welcome back to another exciting episode of The School of School podcast where we talk about all the hot topics. And today the hot topic is four-day work week. What about a four-day school week? We got Robin. Say Hi, Robin.
We got Adam. Say hello, Adam.
Hi Andy. Hi Robin.
Okay, once again, you guys got to answer this because I had no idea and I certainly shouldn't be asked for my opinion on stuff like this. What do you guys say?
I can't wait until we start our own four-day work week. That's what I have to say.
Well, I agree.
Yeah, I like the idea of reduced working hours. I really like that idea. I think it's great. But what about school though, right? Four-day a week, school day. Could that work? There's always so much pressure to put so much stuff in the curriculum all the time. We need to teach them this and this. Could you manage it in four days?
Maybe it's not a reduced number of hours. It's a reduced number of days, but maybe you're working a couple of extra hours every day to compensate. I don't know. Maybe people are just more productive and they're able to do things in four days rather than five. So then the next question is, would that be the case with the school? Would they expect longer days at school or would they just expect kids to be more productive with their time?
I'm not convinced longer days of work, especially for the wee ones.
You know, for the wee kids. I'm not sure that longer is better in terms of you're going to learn more. And I'm sure for us as adults, we all have the time of day or at what point do you need a coffee? What point are you feeling like, "Man, I am at the height of focus and I just can't lose. I'm just super productive."
But that probably feeds into a bit more of we understand how all of that works. Where if you're a child, you might not get that or have the ability to discuss that or talk about those things. I always thought post pandemic, they were talking about, let's just increase the length of school to fit in what's been lost.
And I thought, no, I'm not convinced it works like that. I'm not convinced that just adding on another couple of hours would make up for what's been lost. Because is that prime time? If you've got children working till 5:00 or 5:30 and they're mentally working, can they sustain that from the time that they've been in school? And I think especially for the smaller children, the younger children, I'd say no. I'd say no. Or it would take a radical shift into what school looked like and how we taught and how we went about things. And I don't think I know enough about how I would manage that.
So let's say we don't increase hours per day being productive in four days. So what about children in four days going to school, same regular hours that they do now?
So here, let me twist it on its head. You remember when we spoke to Jen Doucette from Collingwood School in North Vancouver?
And she talked about how they, because of the pandemic they switched, so they're a secondary school, they switched the timetable around so that they wouldn't do any of the courses for an entire year. They would do them only for one term, and they had three terms a year, and the terms weren't all the same length. See, in a way that kind of really resonates with the way I believe my brain to work. I could do an intense, I could do a whole term just one course. I could do that and I would do really, really well at that, I think. And doing the sort of 45 minute block once a week doesn't work that well for me. So I think what you're suggesting, Robin could definitely work, but you'd have to change everything.
You couldn't just do it. And it probably wouldn't work for all age groups like what Adam is saying. With the little ones, you probably have to revisit things every day in order for it to stick. Especially those trickier topics, the ones that are more critical that form the majority of the curriculum, you have to repeat it. So I think it could work in secondary school. It certainly works in university. In university you're not expected to take a full course load every day. You might only do three or four courses a term. So I think at different age groups it works differently.
I think the other thing that would happen, and again, I think this happened throughout the pandemic, is you revalue things and you start to say, do we need this or do we need that part? Or how much time should we be giving to this? So I think that if you are thinking about doing, I suppose the most experience I've got is thinking about say online training versus face-to-face training. Now no one suggests, or I've never heard, or very few people would suggest you do an online training that's say from nine in the morning till three as you do face-to-face because it's too much. It's too much. You don't know that interaction. And I know it's a very different dynamic. So it's one of those where you kind of go, all right, so that accelerated that process and now we can talk about that a little bit differently and pros and cons.
I think it must be the same with schooling, is that it's one of those where you just have to revalue things and think, right, well, which parts? Which parts are the ones that we would focus in on, which ones would be the ones that perhaps we don't need to spend as much time. Maybe there's a different skillset that this generation coming through need and to have a look at. That's what it would do. If it would force us to, if government decided right tomorrow it's a four-day week, that's us. We would have to do something like that because it simply wouldn't fit.
So a readjustment of what those four days are going to look like, it's not going to stay the traditional five-day week with the same regularly scheduled pieces every day. We got to change it up is what you're saying. And that makes sense. And maybe it would be for the better, like you said, maybe we would get rid of some of the things that aren't necessary now and be more focused.
Maybe. Well, maybe not. And that's the thing. And that that's always the problem, is if it doesn't, then you'd just try to fit more in in less time. And that's not usually wholly successful. Well, I don't know, but you'd have to revalue everything and you'd have to reprioritize potentially.
I think effective teaching is a big issue. A lot of the time that's spent in teaching is not particularly effective. If you want to look at it from that point of view that's a really, you can get into trouble talking about things like this, there's a lot of wasted time in education. So could you strip that out? If you could find a way to strip out that ineffective time, then you could make an argument to say that you could teach the same content in less time.
But you're making a huge assumption there, which is that, that's just a teaching side of it. On the learning side, you also have that other thing. There's a lot of ineffective learning that happens, but that just seems to be part of the process. There's a real messy, sort of sloppy time that's required to get to something, It's not super efficient, teaching or learning is not a super efficient process. So could you compress it? I don't know. I don't know if you could compress it. You'd have to get rid of stuff. You just have to be really brutal and say, yeah, cursive writing gone, this other thing gone. We're not going to do that anymore. We're not going to waste time on these things. We're just going to do less, but we're going to do it better, then maybe you could do it. But everybody fights over what's important all the time.
Well then you look at homeschooling or online learning and they certainly seem to be able to do a lot and probably a lot more. And I realise it's not in a classroom environment, but they do a lot in much less time during the day. And this is of course just my experience from people I know whose children seem to be done in the morning and do some other physical exercise maybe in the afternoon or something. They're homeschooled. Maybe that's just my personal experience with it. But they seem to have a lot of free time. They could probably do a four-day week without too much effort, without changing what they do now too much. But maybe this is a totally separate topic.
Well, so look, homeschooling is a tricky subject. I've seen homeschooling done remarkably well. I have. And I've met over the years, met homeschoolers who I've been so impressed by and have seemed to have done a remarkable job. And I've also met lots of people and I've walked away from the conversation saying, "You need to send your kids to school." Because not all schoolers are created equally, right?
And there's a reason why you have to go through qualification to become a teacher. Some people might naturally be good teachers and might do a really, really good job if they didn't learn how to teach properly through some accredited process. They might be really excellent teachers. They're just naturals. Most people aren't and wouldn't. They need that to stand on the shoulder of giants to be great and to be big. So homeschooling is a tricky one. I think you can do a great job as a homeschooler, but it's not easy.
I think the other difficulty is, right, if there was a perfect schooling system, perfect, then there'd be no debate. The world would, well no, this is actually a loaded thing because what I'm about to say is not true.
Yeah, I was going to say that's not true, Adam.
If we all knew exactly how it worked. If you talk to Singaporeans, they'll on paper have the best schooling system bar none on pretty much every... But they would still be looking to, they wouldn't stop now and say, "Well, it's perfect. We have the human beings that we want at the end of their secondary school and university." They'll be looking to say, "How can we be better?" And they'll keep looking at different solutions and things that they can change.
So I think that it's a really difficult thing because it's very difficult because you're judging what is success at the end of it. So I know some homeschooling people, and admittedly I've seen some homeschooling where the children are lovely and wonderful and they've had experiences that a lot of children haven't. You meet people that have been living on a yacht for seven or eight years and they've gone around the world and they've seen things that you've only ever seen on telly.
And I don't know, all of these things and the children are incredibly well-rounded and all of that sort of stuff. So maybe that's the key. Maybe that's the experiential learning that everyone should be doing because well how effective is that? And if we could have a world that has children like that, but of course that's not the case for everyone.
And I think it's really difficult because there isn't one system that works for every single child. And we've got to try to do everything that we can to make it sort of, I don't know, as good as possible. But when you chuck in a variable where you take 20% of the teaching week away, that changes things hugely because all of a sudden you've got a totally different dynamic. You've got three days of doing something else. You've got all of these things. And that's where I think that it's easier for adults to cope with that.
So if we talk about a four-day week, you will have people that will say, yeah, it's a great idea, or maybe it's a rubbish idea. Or maybe it works for some people, maybe it doesn't work for some. But I think with children, it's just a bit trickier. They lack that autonomy to say, this works or it doesn't in some sense.
Okay. I think you've summarised it. So we go back to what happened at the beginning of the podcast, which is my suggestion of the four-day work week, Andy, and keep a five-day school week. I'm
I'm feeling the pressure here. I'm feeling the pressure.
Five-day school week, so we can make sure they get everything in, four-day work week. Adam, are you with me?
I think if everyone went for a four-day work week, you'd have to go four-day school.
Oh, okay. Well not everyone then maybe just-
... just us.
I love it.
Thank you for joining us on The School of School podcast.