Tuesday, October 09, 2018

School schedules

I'm just up with a baby who can't sleep, thinking about school schedules.

Bridget mentioned that schedules in Finland aren't as cut and dry as they tend to be here. You don't necessarily have the same class at the same time every day, whereas here, my kids can look at the clock on the way from the doctor's office to the school and tell me, "Oh, drat! I'm missing [insert subject here] but I'll be right on time for [this other subject]."

My schedule in high school in Utah was an A/B day schedule. On A days we had four classes (in the same order every day) and on B days we had another set of four classes. One week we'd have ABABA and the next BABAB, and so on through the school year.

From what I recall, my schedule in Alberta was a lot more European. We had a weekly schedule that remained pretty much unchanged through the school year, but every day of the week was different. Sometimes we'd have "double" classes (like in Harry Potter when they have "double potions"; sometimes we'd have "double social studies"). I looked online to see what my old high school's bell schedule looks like these days, but it's a lot more Americanized, it seems. They've gone on a four-block system where you have classes ABCD one day, with lunch in the middle, and then the next day you'd have BADC, and then back to ABCD.

But our schedule was much more random and I wish I had thought to ever keep a copy of my class schedule (but I don't think I did).

We might not have social studies at all on Monday but would have double math.
Then on Tuesday we'd have double social, but only one math class.
Then on Wednesday we'd have double English, one social, no math.

It seems like their placement in the day varied a lot as well, so sometimes you'd have math in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon. And I think that suits a variety of learns rather well. Some people are more alert in the morning than the afternoon and vise versa so why shouldn't we switch the classes around to different times of the day?

I don't know if it's simply because I was less aware as a child or if it was because our schedule was so willy-nilly or if it was because our "homeroom" teachers pretty much taught us everything so we rarely left our classrooms, but I don't recall ever knowing my schedule whatsoever in elementary school. It was always a grand surprise to head to the gym or the library.

Surely we had a schedule that our teachers were keeping track of but I was always completely unaware of it.

My kids can tell you what day of the week they have PE.

I guess...I had PE every day so I could tell you that as well.

So what's a better example? Library, perhaps.

My kids can tell you what day of the week they visit the library media centre.

I would not have been able to tell you that in elementary school!

And I'm sure we took more than eight subjects in any given year in Alberta. In grade nine I know I had at least:

  1. Choir 
  2. Band
  3. Drama
  4. Phys Ed
  5. English
  6. Math
  7. Science
  8. Social Studies
  9. Community Health
...and I can't remember what else (I'd have to pull out my report cards which I'm sure are somewhere but I have no idea where). Some classes we'd keep all year; others were term classes (health class was a term class). Also, I took English and Math through the distance learning program, so I had "spares," but that was only for the second half of the school year, so I think maybe our main subjects were often doubled so that we got twice the instruction in half the time). 

I guess that's the same as it was in Utah.

My first year at Timpanogos I had at least...
  1. Ballroom
  2. Math
  3. English
  4. US History
  5. Biology
  6. Health
  7. Release time seminary!
  8. Drama
Second year...
  1. Ballroom
  2. Drama
  3. Math
  4. Art
  5. Child care/development
  6. Psychology
  7. Environmental Science
  8. Release time seminary!
  9. Work/internship program thing (essentially a "spare" but I had to track my hours at work and write papers about how my work applied to any class I was taking (I wrote about my experiences teaching swim lessons and how that related to my child development class).
...but there has to have been more because health, again, was only a block class...


  1. Your Alberta schedule sounds like the schedules here, including the "double" lessons - I feel like I'm sending my kids to Hogwarts every time one of those shows up on their schedules! I am also tickled by your use of the word "spare" - in asking for all these schedules from people, I've seen all kinds of words used for those extra subjects. Most use "special" or "specials." "Spare" is a new one and I love it! Here they call them "artistic and practical subjects" ("taide- ja taitoaineet" in Finnish). Really rolls off the tongue...

  2. I didn’t explain spares, did I? So I can see how you’d assume that definition, but it’s actually an empty block, not an extra subject. More like a “study hall” block than a class block. Students with a spare hang out in “the commons” (the cafe in the middle of the school) or the library to study, ideally. Older students can build a spare in without question. Because I was in grade nine I had to prove that I had selected courses from the distant learning center in order to get a spare.

    I think that’s because there are two tracks to graduation. There’s a college track, which has more class requirements, and there’s the non-college track, which has fewer, so not everyone needs the same number/kind of classes.

    Now I’m thinking of what we did call our “option” classes. Option comes to mind, obviously, but I’m not sure if that was a Utah thing or an Alberta thing. My kids call them “specials.” :)