Open all hours?

19th May 2017 at 00:00
A principal has mooted making the college day resemble work shifts – but is this the best way to prepare students for the world of work?

A few months ago, I spoke to a college principal who, having recently joined the sector, shared his concerns about how the college day was simply not similar enough to what people would find in the workplace.

There must be a way, he mused, to mirror working hours to make sure students were well prepared for work. He went on to suggest this could mean not only an almost shift-like pattern to classes with early starts where required, but also changes to the academic year structure, leading to shorter holidays.

This week, however, we tell the tale of three colleges that have made significant changes to the college day of a different kind. All of them have turned the usual one- or two-hour class structure into longer blocks. Two of them have decided to move the time classes start back by an hour to 10am. This, their principals said, was to accommodate the fact that young people do not function well early in the day, and their brains are more effective later on.

That seems slightly counter-intuitive. If the point of a college is to prepare young people for work, should we not start the college day earlier, instead? But then again, college is not work, in the same way that university is not. College should teach young people the hard and soft skills they need and give them the confidence to confidently take on a job. That job will be a new, scary environment for them, whatever colleges do. So maybe ensuring they are at their very best at college and structuring the day in the way that suits them best is the best way to set them on course for that.


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