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As Lawrentians prepared to spend an unusually long weekend with friends and family last week, their much-anticipated day of freedom was not as sweet as they had hoped. This time, the storm came before the calm, as Lawrenceville students rushed through all of their classes last Friday in a mere four and a half hours before the school-day was over.
As much as I love vague unnecessary shots at the administration, the short period schedule is yet another invention of the administration that, despite all positive intentions, does not pan out the way it’s supposed to. At first glance, cutting the normally nine-to-three day in half seems to be a godsend; however, packing in up to six classes in a timeslot that is barely enough for two on a regular day is imprudent and wasteful.
The greatest problem with the schedule is how periods are thirty-five minute long, a time frame that is simply, for the lack of a better word, awkward. Short period classes are too short to get any substantial work done, yet too long to afford not to at least try.
When these short periods precede finals week, as they usually do, this situation is amplified, as students have less than half the time of a normal period to try to fit in an abundance of last-minute questions. While it is nice to have all of one’s classes the day before exams ensue, it is much more sensible to keep the schedule as is, and give Lawrentians a more reasonable period of time to make sure they are ready for their finals.
In the irritatingly familiar case when there is a short period schedule in the middle of the term such as what happened last Friday, the system is more flawed as ever. The problem in this situation has more to do with the night before than anything else, as students have to prepare for up to six nights of homework in one study hall, including studying for quizzes and finishing writing assignments. Although, an announcement made clear that students should only spend half an hour on homework per class, it was made only after teachers assigned work.
Especially for courses that require around fifty minutes of effort a night, condensing homework to half an hour leaves students unprepared and overwhelmed for next day’s class, which is short and inefficient to begin with because of the abbreviated schedule. In the case of an assigmnment where thirty minutes is not nearly enough time to study sufficiently, students have to choose whether to sacrifice their allotted time or their grade, a lose-lose decision that usually results in less sleep and/or a compromised performance. Whatever the case may be, the lack of time to complete the required work compounds the effect of an already pointless class, resulting in a sub-par quiz or test or a lack of full participation in whatever discussion the teacher manages to salvage in thirty-five minutes.
For all its faults, the short period schedule system is not inherently bad. In fact, short period schedule is fitting and even beneficial in meeting with the previous term’s classes at the start of the next term. In this situation, the thirty-five minute period is a convenient time frame to wrap up the term and review final exams. Lawrenceville must realize when it is appropriate and when it is not. Lawrenceville’s dynamic circumstances oftentimes require a compromise of the school day. This compromise, however, should not be at the expense of the time and performance of the students.
- Shubhankar Chhokra ’14