Happy Thanksgiving! As we head into a holiday where we get some time from school for giving thanks, we want to reflect on how we spend time in school.
Time is the commodity we take for granted until we don’t have enough of it. As our lives get faster and faster, without thinking we begin to sacrifice the things that are most precious: time with family and friends, time for ourselves, time to play, time to disconnect and read, pray and reflect, or to just sit quietly with a cup of coffee and watch the leaves fall.
Our kids feel this urgency, the tyranny of the now, just as much as we do—perhaps even more. Even when our conscious brains aren’t aware of the toll, our bodies bear the brunt of the pace. Research shows that teenagers today are more sleep-deprived than the generations before them, and the push to cram in school work, sports, and other extracurriculars to round out the college applications is taking a toll on their physical and mental health. We can keep going, sure—but at what cost?
At Waterloo, we have designed a schedule that is not only healthier for teens, it’s better for their learning. Our research-backed trimester-based block schedule allows for deeper learning, a calmer pace, and time to do the work of thinking without hours of homework at night. Our students will take two courses at a time instead of 6 or more, studying each for 12 weeks instead of for nine months. And our instructional schedule and more flexible Fridays build in the time they need not only to get things done, but also to relax and recharge. Scheduled courses meet Monday through Thursday, with Friday’s set aside for all the other needs that students otherwise end up cramming into after hours—tutoring, test-prep, internships, research, service, and other individual pursuits.
As we head into the holiday season, where the pace only speeds up and the to-do lists get longer, we believe that it’s important for teens and families not to have a thousand things hanging over their heads. This is the time to spend with the communities we are thankful for, to pray and reflect on the miracle of the word made flesh, and even to just sit with that cup of coffee and watch the leaves fall.
And speaking of time to be thankful—we are grateful for the folks at CTA Group Architects. From helping us design a space to support students to hosting our fourth information meeting at their new offices next to the Capitol last week, they are helping us build Waterloo to be the school where ‘The city is the school.’ Thank you for the time you have given us.