Letter to the Editor: Just admit it; mistakes were made with the new schedule

May 8, 2009
by Jackie Rider

Dear Editor:

Recent studies have shown that when doctors acknowledge mistakes, patients and families are less likely to sue. Leadership and learning grow from risk-taking and innovation in the face of opposition. They also require openness to outside ideas and clear-eyed critique of outcomes. It was rather frustrating, therefore, to hear that the main takeaway from these past nine months of a new schedule at Greeley was that many high school students don’t yet possess the study habits, time management skills and self motivation needed to successfully use large blocks of free time. 

When asked for input early on in the process, many parents urged administrators to build into the new schedule opportunities and resources that would help students acquire those skills, so increasingly essential to our rapidly changing culture. Thankfully, academic clinics continued this year and teachers made extra effort to be available to students during the school day. But an overall lack of guidance on how to spend too much unstructured time when shut out of a library filled to capacity was cause for concern among some parents. The image comes to mind of an adult walking a young person to the end of a dock, pushing them into deep water and saying, “swim.” 

I agree young people today need time to just “be.” They need time to hang with friends and decompress. They need safe opportunities to make choices and mistakes. They also need some basic tools that will empower them to stretch themselves intellectually, ask for direction, run with an idea and rethink that idea.  It’s great to know that next year’s ninth graders will receive help organizing their time and developing good study habits.

I continue to support many of the goals put forth to justify the schedule change, such as less stress, more independent and in-depth engagement of subject materials, and more collaborative and cross-discipline learning. But it would have been helpful (and a real teaching moment) to hear an administrator say just once, “We thought this new schedule would work. A few things did, but a lot didn’t. We made mistakes and we will try to learn from and fix them.”

Jackie Rider

To view all articles and letters to the editor on the high school schedule change, see “From the Archives: Greeley Schedule Change Letters-to-the-Editor and Articles, Newest to Oldest.”