Op-Ed: X block’s goals do not align with reality

Sydney Stone June 5, 2015 1
Op-Ed: X block’s goals do not align with reality
Archer juniors sit in the Library and work together. For many students, especially Upper Schoolers, X block is a time devoted to finishing homework and studying for tests. Photographer: Carina Oriel '16.

The newly integrated X block can be a productive block of time for students, but does not entirely fulfill its purpose.

It has been a year since the administration announced the addition of X block to the schedule, an hour long period in between second and third period on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In her initial announcement to the Upper School, Upper School director Samantha Coyne-Donnel encouraged Upper School students to use this time to “take a breath” rather than “add more” to their schedules.

In theory, X block is the quintessence of modern, progressive education. Numerous studies suggest that students need breaks from learning in order to get the most out of their education. Archer advertises “ambitious, joyful, learning,” and the idea of X block embodies the motto perfectly. In order to learn ambitiously, Archer girls need to have time for joy.

However, in practice, X block is not nearly as ideal. X block is supposed to be a time for students to catch up on work, relax and try new activities. You would think that students involved in numerous leadership roles and after school activities would benefit the most from this “free time.”

You would be wrong.

Students with the most extracurriculars tend to have the most meetings during X block and the least amount of free time. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I for one thoroughly enjoy my orchestra X block sessions and my Editorial Board meetings. X block has become a valuable time for me and my classmates to get work done in an efficient manner, but it is by no means free time.

In order for the X block in practice to match the X block in theory, one of two things must happen. Option one: teachers and clubs will not be permitted to hold meetings during X block. However, this is impractical. Without my orchestra sessions this year, our concerts would not have sounded nearly as good.

The second option is to acknowledge that the “real” X block is not serving the purpose that we intended it to. It is perfectly okay to admit that X block is not ideal, after all this is the pilot year of the program. Instead, the administration needs to have a meaningful conversation with students and faculty members in order to make X block fulfill its role of encouraging and aiding in joyful, ambitious learning.

One Comment »

  1. Carina Oriel June 10, 2015 at 3:05 PM -

    Syd, nice job on addressing how x-block has served our community after a year of it being in place. While it is a wonderful time for students and teachers in theory, I personally have gotten significantly more busy as the year has gone on as more groups decide to meet during x-block. As I look on to my extracurricular schedule for the upcoming school year, both of my x-blocks are booked for two separate activities. Since senior year is going to be absolutely hectic, I really wish I had at least one x-block a week to just relax.