What if teachers and students could savour the sweet taste of an extended weekend, indulging in an extra day of rest, rejuvenation, and professional exploration? Imagine the possibilities that would unfold with a four-day school week!
Picture yourself, as a dedicated teacher, relieved at the mere thought of a shorter workweek. The burdensome weight of commuting expenses, worsened by a staggering 150% increase in transportation costs, would soon be alleviated. The notion of teaching for just four days a week would undoubtedly bring a welcome respite, not only for you but for countless educators across the nation.
This all began as I read a story about the state of Colorado, where an audacious district dared to challenge the norm. In May 2019, news broke of their daring endeavour to implement a four-day school week. Curiosity piqued, the idea took hold, and my mind teemed with thoughts and possibilities.
Fast forward to the present, four years after and I have read another news about the decision of the Edo state government of Nigeria. Here, amidst a different context and for a different reason, the state government has embraced the concept of a three-day school week. It is a tale of parallel innovation, reminiscent of Colorado’s trailblazing spirit, and it has captured my imagination. Could this be the beginning of a trend that spreads far and wide, transforming education as we know it?
The Colorado VS Edo Model
In both Colorado and Edo, the core principle remained consistent: condensing the school week while compensating with additional hours. Students and teachers alike would revel in the luxury of an extended weekend, brimming with possibilities. In Edo, Nigeria for instance, to help reduce the pressure on the fuel subsidy removal, schools would open for only 3 days (Monday to Wednesday). In the Colorado district, they adopted a 4-day week (Tuesday to Friday) to reduce the pressure and be able to cope with paying staff.
In both cases, while the students would attend school only on selected days, an extra one or two hours were added to each day to cover the curriculum. This approach allowed older students to explore a realm of freedom and self-discovery. They could opt to stay at home, engrossed in enriching online courses or even venture into the world, acquiring work experience and a taste of financial independence.
The recent upheaval caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic has demonstrated that physical proximity is not the sole conduit for learning and work. The remarkable transition to online education witnessed in 2020 awakened us to the possibilities that lie within the realm of blended learning. The fusion of technology with traditional face-to-face instruction offers an enticing pathway to the future. With the advent of cutting-edge artificial intelligence technologies, the implementation of such a paradigm shift becomes all the more attainable.
Envision, if you will, a world where organizations seamlessly adapt to work shifts, granting their employees the liberty to choose specific working days. Some have even crafted entirely remote teams, eliminating the need for physical meetings. In this landscape, dear stakeholders of education, the four-day school week emerges as a natural progression.
Yet, let us tread cautiously, for change must be orchestrated meticulously. As an advocate of this visionary shift, I propose a phased approach. Begin with a four-day week, allowing stakeholders to acclimate to this new normal gradually. Use this transitional phase to identify what works and what requires improvement, nurturing a culture of continuous growth and refinement. Let me suggest a few things I would put in place if I were to implement this…
1. A record of a productive extra day
Imagine, on the coveted extra day, students passionately engaging in independent pursuits, honing their skills, and delving deeper into their chosen fields. While younger students delight in the freedom to play, learn, and explore, their older counterparts must demonstrate the fruits of their labor—a record of online work completed. This evidence could take the form of relevant professional courses or utilising a comprehensive learning management system. Teachers, too, would utilize this additional day for meticulous preparation, ensuring their lessons are captivating and aligned with the curriculum. They would also be required to partake in regular professional development, attending organized training sessions, workshops, and networking events once a month.
2. Continuous professional development for teachers
The essence of progress lies in our unwavering commitment to professional growth. As educators in the 21st century, living int he days of AI, we cannot remain stagnant while the world around us evolves. Embracing technology as a steadfast ally, we must equip ourselves with the skills necessary to navigate the modern educational landscape. Training programs should empower teachers to harness the power of learning management systems, video conferencing tools like Zoom, Teams and Meet, and simple but effective assessment methods. Rather than fear the advent of artificial intelligence, we must embrace it as a tool to enhance our profession and maximize it for work purposes.
3. Re-evaluation of the curriculum
A fundamental aspect of this transformative journey is the reevaluation of our beloved curriculum. As we march forward, our teaching approaches, content, and assessment methods must be examined, adjusted and adapted to the evolving needs of our students. Flipped learning, where students absorb knowledge at home through technological resources and then engage in interactive discussions and practical applications in the classroom, emerges as a potent pedagogical approach. By leveraging technology, we ignite a spark within our students, enabling them to become active participants in their own education.
4. Pedagogical use of technology
Dear stakeholders, it is crucial that we acknowledge the pedagogical implications of integrating technology. A seamless marriage between technology and teaching requires a sound pedagogical foundation, one that considers the unique affordances of technology and cultivates an environment where students become active creators rather than mere passive consumers. A lack of this is a major cause of many failed school-technology integration projects. This pedagogy should permeate the minds of both educators and students, unifying their purpose and empowering them to unleash the full potential of technology.
In conclusion, dear readers, I fervently believe that the four-day school week is not merely a whimsical notion but a tangible, transformative possibility for education. Through its implementation, we have the power to enhance student learning, uplift teacher morale, and optimize school finances. However, let us approach this future with caution and a spirit of adaptability. Stakeholders must hold themselves accountable for demonstrating evidence of online work and engaging in professional development. Our curriculum demands a thorough reassessment, with technology as a steadfast companion to unlock new dimensions of understanding and engagement.
Now, dear stakeholders, I turn to you. What do you think about this? Do you think more schools and states should adopt this and embrace the transformative power of the four-day school week? Let the conversation begin!