Time & learning

Over the past few days I’ve had a stark reminder of the fact that schools equate time spent “on task” with learning.

For reasons I will not go into here, I’m getting a real estate salesperson’s license.   To do so I enrolled in an on line course.  According to NY State regulations, you must complete a 75 hour course and pass the pre-licensing exam given at the end of the course in order to be able to sit for the actual licensing exam, which is administered by a proctor in a designated location.   Each time I log in to my account, I click into a unit of study.  I am required to spend a minimum of 50 minutes in each unit.

But guess what?

I usually finish the unit, including the unit exam given at the end, in around 42 minutes.    Am I allowed to move on to the next unit?  No I am not.  Even if I scored above the 80% required to pass each quiz, I must go back into the unit I just completed and “hang out” for 8 minutes, until the time clock says I spent 50 minutes on that unit of study.     If I sit on one page for too long I am automatically logged out and the time clock resets to “0”, so I can’t open a unit and then go make a coffee or something to eat up some time.

How ridiculous is that?

To the powers that be, TIME is the most important issue at hand.   When I write quarterly reports for my kids, I must include their attendance IN HOURS.  In fact the only time the Central Office of Homeschooling ever contacted me about a report was when I did not report the attendance in hours.   (As unschoolers we are technically learning 24/7, so we spend way more than the required amount of hours learning, but it’s still a silly rule.)

What do I learn in that 8 extra minutes I spend clicking through pages I already read?

That’s right, I learn nothing.  I am usually annoyed and spend the time simply watching the clock at the bottom of each page, waiting for the moment it flips to “50 minutes” so that I can move on to the next section.  Of course, the upside of an online course is that if it does take me more than 50 minutes to finish a section, I will not be interrupted by a bell and made to put my materials away and move on to the next subject of required study.   So there is that.

Mostly, though, the time factor does nothing but waste time; time that could be better spent moving on to the next topic and meeting my goal more quickly, or just having an extra 8 minutes to do anything else; chat with my kids, load the dishwasher, feed the cat….

“Time on task” does not always equal more and better learning.


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