The idea of dividing knowledge and lessons into forty, eighty, twenty or sixty-minute time frames is very old. And a little bit weary. It sure is convenient. I mean if we insist upon gathering hundreds of kids in a school setting you need to have some kind of schedule, structure and time frames. Or do you?

If we are serious about reengineering schooling this is a good place to start: experiment with time frames and recognizing that learning can’t always fit a predetermined schedule. This is a recognition that children learn at various speeds and that certain subject or projects can’t easily fit into predetermined time frames.

How can we use time in a more flexible manner? What needs to happen to not interrupt student flow by the ringing of a bell? How do we stop the “hurry and finish” stress both at school and at home?

Ask the students what they would like to work on that day. Yes, it’s scary because we cannot be sure what will happen. And it will take some time to adjust to a new way of thinking. Responsibility for one’s time management is not necessarily something that happens overnight – but it is an important goal. Loosening time structures with proper mentoring and supervision is one step towards more learning autonomy and responsibility.