Presentation of the book : Telling Tales Over Time Calendars, Clocks, and School Effectiveness, Sense Publishers, 2013 - 194 pages, by Joel Weiss (University of Toronto, Canada) and Robert S. Brown (Toronto District School Board, Canada)

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Opportunity to Learn

From Editor presentation :

How do calendars and clocks influence considerations of school effectiveness ? From the creation of compulsory education to the future of virtual schooling, Weiss and Brown trace two centuries of school practices, policies and research linking the concept of time with ‘opportunity to learn’. School calendars and clocks are shaped by both the physical and social worlds, and the ‘clock of schooling’ is shown to be one of the ‘great clocks of society’ that helps to frame school effectiveness. School time does not operate in a vacuum, but within curriculum, teaching and learning situations. The phrase ‘chrono-curriculum’ was devised by the authors as a metaphor for exploring issues of school effectiveness within the time dimension.

Using American and Canadian sources, stories are created to illustrate four themes about time and school effectiveness. The first three stories utilize access, attendance and testing as criteria associated with these eras of schooling. How will the story read in the fourth era, the digital age, which forces us to a reconsideration of time and its influence on education ?

Quoting David Berliner in his Foreword : “ this is an opportune time for these authors to bring us insights into the reasons we in North America created our public school systems, and how the chrono-curriculum influences those systems. The authors’ presentation of our educational past provides educators a chance to think anew about how we might do schooling in our own times.”

I would like to present this book by Sense in Italian but it seems too complicate for many readers to switch from one language to another. Therefore I 

The issue covered by this book is very important. School people should be aware that school calendar isn’t a neutral construction. Still today, in some Swiss Education Systems there are at the middle of October one or two weeks of schools holiday or vacation called "potatoes holiday" because several years ago schools were closed to allow pupils to help parents to collect potatoes. Nobody to this now but nevertheless schools are closed for the potatoes !

School length isn’t important as public opinion and policy makers believe. Data provided by OECD/PISA survey and by IEA studies has since long demonstrated that it is irrelevant how long is the school year or how many school hours students should attend. The problem is another, e.g. the quality of instruction and teachers understanding of students’ learning and existential problems. 

Finally, something about OTL (Opportunity to Learn) and TT ( Teaching Time) two issues largely uncovered in the modern surveys on students’ learning. OTL and TT are connected to teaching quality and are not easy to study and to analyse. Maybe for this reason many modern students’ surveys don’t explore any more issues like this which have been identified in the firs international comparative evaluations of education. This book doesn’t analyse this issues but they are at least quoted.

It would be useful to have a translation of studies like this in other languages than English.





Foreword ix

Acknowledgments xi

1. Introduction 1

2. Time as Storyline 11

3. Telling Tales Over Time : Constructing and Deconstructing the

School Calendar 23

4. Absenteeism : A Case Study of One School Board 55

5. The Current Absenteeism Scene 81

6. Time Structures and the Canons of Testing 107

7. Inequities and Effectiveness : Time Structures and Opportunities to Learn 129

8. The Role of Virtual Learning Environments in Time and Spatial Structuring 145

9. The Challenge of Changing Curriculum Stories Over Time 169

Author Biographies 183





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