Switching Places

At Andover, many students do their homework late at night when the cognitive portion of their brains has begun to shut down in preparation for sleep. To combat this problem, some schools have tried limiting the amount of work assigned per night or shortening the school day, giving students more time to study. However, Khan Academy, a non-profit website offering free video lectures on a variety of subjects, proposes a simpler solution. In one of his speeches on, a website dedicated to sharing new ideas, the founder of Khan Academy, Salman Khan, quotes a letter he received from a teacher that states, “What I do is I assign the lectures for homework, and what used to be homework, I now have the students doing in the classroom.” This idea may not be foolproof or even the best way of teaching math and science, but I believe that it is more effective than current methods. This way, instead of staying up late doing homework, students can watch lectures in the evenings and do problems in class the following day. This is not to say that students would not receive homework outside of math and science, but with a lighter workload, students can spend their time focusing on other assignments. Using this method, which Khan calls the Flipped Classroom, students can avoid struggling over their homework alone. Instead of leaving it incomplete or poorly done, students at schools that implement the Flipped Classroom method can use time during class to work together with their teachers. Instead of the usual one-way lectures, this method allows more student-teacher interaction in the classroom, providing students with personal attention. With all of these advantages, however, there are also several disadvantages. Many students do not possess the self-motivation to watch the videos on their own. Some, burdened by their workload, may de-prioritize watching these lectures, thinking that they will be able to learn the material at a later time. If teachers correctly structure their classes, however, students will have to watch the lectures every night to adequately keep up with the course. I came from another preparatory boarding school that had a comparable curriculum and workload to that of Andover. During my time there, one of the math teachers decided to try the Flipped Classroom method. After its implementation, students in her class experienced all of the advantages mentioned above. They had about 30 extra minutes per night to work on other subjects. Most students also earned higher grades because they received help from their teachers in class. Several students attempted to get away with not watching the videos, but they suffered in the end. The work during class always centered on the video assigned the night before, so the teacher could always pick out who hadn’t watched the lecture. The Flipped Classroom method doesn’t have to be implemented immediately or strictly in the fashion Khan describes, but it would be a good step in changing the methodology of education. If successful, students could gain more sleep and get more work done. And at a place like Andover, these are things that everyone could use a little more of. Paul Tulungen is a new Lower from Culver, Indiana.