Timetables and Content – An un-holy union

There are numerous theories about learning. The best ones are based in research, the worst based on brand-loyalty and self-belief. The Internet has become rich in blog posts about learning models [like that one].

These things don’t exist in a vacuum. The timetable is the straight-jacket we dress change in. The time-table’s power lies in the hour-by-hour dogma of content and ‘dot-points’. Regardless of learning model and new technology, the literature maintains that where teaching is a ‘job’, these dot-point requirements and pre-requisite content tropes are seen by teachers as ‘their job’. They can only do their job if the timetable is created in a certain way. 50 hours for this, 25 hours for that.

There is no readily available time for more learning – which many argue is essential; digital skills, literacy, ethics, research etc., These things are assumed to be ‘inside’ the dot-point/content union, which is ridiculous yet complied with by teachers. The time-table is seen as ‘difficult’ to change. It’s perhaps the hardest conversation to have in a school – how do we change the time-table – because it’s often the main villain when it comes to improvement, reform, change or whatever you want to call it.

If you don’t want to change (anything) for (insert one of thousands of reasons) the sake of trying something new, then the timetable is a sanctuary. We can’t change the timetable you heritic! Then sit back and wait for the assailant to give up. If they persist, point out just how much content there is and how few hours. That will see them off.

Time-tables and content should not dictate the learning model, the technology nor the design of the space itself. But it does because it’s welded into cultural understanding. Technology has had very limited impact on the timetable – it’s the social clock that families, students and teachers rely for normality. However – when we look around this modern world of ours – learning is 24/7 if we want.