Daniel Barnes

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What is a block, and why?

Colorado College uses a unique system called the block plan, which dictates the schedule of the school and the students. They have transformed classes from semester-long concurrent classes (such as taking 4 classes at a time for an entire semester), and instead decided to offer courses one-at-a-time. This amounts to classes which are intensive, three-and-a-half weeks long, and cover a semester's worth of material.

This serves a great scheduling benefit. A class has the freedom to change meeting times freely and even go on trips during their block, because it's the only thing the students are doing. Students are provided work from only one class instead of several, so it's easy to keep focused and just study one subject intensely. And after every block, students get a "block-break", where Wednesday afternoon through Sunday night is a blank spot which can be filled with whatever the student pleases.

Now, it's interesting to theorize about and think how it would fit into college life. So how do students view the block plan?

For me, it feels like every student is on the same page, all the time. All the readings we do are all pooled in my head in a way that feels extremely associative-- rather, I can make connections very easily.

Each day we've had up to 100 pages of reading, plus reflections. It seems like it'd be easy to read through, do reflections, and forget about what you read, and I believe in a traditional semester plan that's exactly what I'd do. However, I'm constantly surprised by my ability to recall and use information seamlessly because of the block plan. This, I believe, is it's strongest point, and where the block plan works best.

Today I finished my ninth day of class in my first block. For students at other colleges, this means they've been taking classes for two weeks-- for me, it means I'm half-way through my first block. And going back through all the work we've done, I almost want to say, "that's crazy, I didn't do that much work this block."

An intensive schedule is working for me, and while it caught me by surprise at first, I think the block plan is probably the best way for me to learn at the time.


By Daniel, on September 7, 2017, 3:03 pm