Academic journal article Middle School Journal

A View from the Middle

Academic journal article Middle School Journal

A View from the Middle

Article excerpt

Time to learn, time to live, time to grow

Each time I visit a school in Norway, I ask students what they like most about school and they frequently say "free time with friends." Unlike their counterparts in the United States, students in Norwegian lower secondary schools typically get periods of free time during the school day. These breaks may last 10 or 15 minutes and occur twice a day. In addition to these extended recess periods, students usually have five minutes between each lesson.

10-minute break might not seem long, because Norwegian students spend most of the day in the same classroom-the teachers change classrooms each lesson, not the students-they are able to make the most of this down time. Students spend their free time with friends in their classrooms, in designated common areas of the school, or outside. Many students choose to go outside to kick a soccer ball or talk to their friends in small groups, while others find cozy places inside the school to socialize or just relax. Some schools have spaces intentionally designed for students to gather and interact, as recommended by Wolsey and Uline in the November 2010 issue of Middle School Journal.

Teachers enjoy the breaks, too. During the short breaks between lessons, teachers sometimes need to hustle through the school to get to the next classroom, but during longer breaks, they retreat to their cozy break rooms, which usually have fully equipped kitchens and fresh, hot coffee. The atmosphere in the break rooms is often enhanced by fresh cut flowers or live plants, tablecloths, and lit candles. …

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