4×5 Schedule Decision Reversed After Second Vote

The 4×5 schedule has officially been rejected, after years of planning and just months away from implementation. Results from the December 2016 revote, which was held the week of Monday, December 12, certified the faculty’s decision to reject the 4×5 schedule, extending the current schedule into the 2017-2018 academic year.

The official revote was an immediate response to the results of a previous advisory vote, which portrayed a distinct change in faculty sentiment since the initial schedule vote was held in January 2016. While 56 percent (119 votes) of the faculty participants voted in support of the 4×5 schedule in the original vote last January, only 35 percent (72 votes) of participants approved the 4×5 in the recent December revote.

In an interview with The Phillipian, Head of School John Palfrey said, “Faculty voted in favor of the 4×5 last winter, and it came out a different way this past term. I think that it had to do with looking at the particulars of what it would entail, and I think a number of people decided to change their point of view, that the benefits were outweighed by some of the costs that are associated with it.”

“In my view, that was the right time to take a formal revote, step back, and take a break, which we’ll do this winter, and go back at it in the spring. I remain optimistic that we can improve upon our schedule and calendar,” he continued.

In the meantime, Palfrey noted how the school will continue with its current schedule and calendar for the 2017-18 academic year.

“This shift in timing means we will apply what we have learned over these past few months, continue to engage students in this process, and expand our research more broadly, with a goal of a new schedule and calendar beginning in the fall of either 2018 or 2019,” he wrote in an email sent to students, families, faculty, and staff.

With the 4×5 model, the schedule would have consisted of four terms with five periods each, potentially less homework time, a school starting time of 8:30 a.m., greater time for collaborative work between faculty and students, and improvement of the Empathy and Balance curriculum.

According to Palfrey’s email to the Andover community, “The design of a new student-centered schedule and calendar is one of several ways [the community] honor[s] commitments to academic excellence as well as empathy and balance, equity and inclusion, and creativity and innovation at Andover.”

Christopher Jones, Instructor and Chair in History and Social Sciences, explained how the 4×5 was designed to provide a healthier lifestyle both in and out of the classroom.

“My view of the current schedule is that it facilitates the desire of many students to do as much as possible, but fosters superficial engagement, lack of sleep, anxiety, unhealthy living habits, and, worst of all, a cheap intellectual life,” said Jones in an interview with The Phillipian. “It was designed to address major concerns the faculty have about student health, wellbeing, and intellectual life.”

“The 4×5 addressed major initiatives of [Andover’s] Strategic Plan by building more time into student and faculty days and weeks to advance a richer intellectual environment, a healthier social and living environment, and more time for faculty collaboration and interdisciplinary coursework,” he continued.

Many faculty members, however, expressed the need for modifications to the current schedule, but opposed some of the specific changes that the 4×5 schedule would have brought next fall.

Some students also did not completely support the 4×5 schedule, citing lengthened classes, and sporadic course curriculums as reasons for hesitance.

In an interview with The Phillipian, Aidan Driscoll ’17 said, “I did not completely support the 4×5 schedule, my reasons being [because] I did not think it would be beneficial for those taking languages to take them sporadically throughout the year. I also thought that it would be hard to keep paying attention in long classes and with longer homework assignments and would force students to be learning multiple concepts at once in classes like math and science.”

Andrew Wang’ 18 said in an interview with The Phillipian, “I am glad that [the 4×5 schedule] is gone. It gives me a chance to complete my schedule and take more classes next year…and take five courses [a term].”

Lilia Cai-Hurteau, Instructor in Chinese, suggested how each department should have their own “pedagogical priorities” that allow for individualized approaches in learning.

“What I would like to see is for the faculty to develop a schedule that is intentionally differentiated to suit the diverse needs of different departments and different students,” wrote Cai-Hurteau in an email to The Phillipian.

“Our teachers have been very innovative when developing a variety of class schedules under the current system by mixing up red-dots, singles, doubles and super doubles. I believe that our faculty will continue to work hard to come up with an improved schedule that honors the principles of continuity, flexibility as well as student and faculty wellness,” she continued.