Gregor Sutherland, Duane Henry and Mary Lee
In this chapter we get a feel for the different structures of the school day in different countries. The five schools presented here are in highly contrasting cultural settings - Scotland, Sweden, Japan, South Africa and Hong Kong - and some of the differences are immediately striking. They range from the very open-ended and flexible school day in Sweden to the highly structured day in the Hong Kong school, reflections more of the general culture than of the school itself. But beneath these obvious differences we are also struck by many of the apparent similarities - subjects, periods, classes, tests, pressure - things we have come to accept as defining the place called school. This does raise some fundamental questions about ways in which schools have traditionally structured learning and teaching and continue to do so. It prompts us to ask what the alternatives to this traditional school day might be.
A day at the Anderson High School begins with the arrival of staff and students. The latter come either on foot, by bus or get dropped off by car. Which mode of transport you use depends on where you live. Those who come by bus might live a few miles away or out in the more rural parts of Shetland - for them, the day began long before their arrival at the school gates at 8.45 a.m. For those who live close by, they walk, and for the students who live in the halls of residence on campus, that literally means a minute between bedroom and blackboard.
By 8.30 a.m., some half an hour before registration, there are many students at school, gathering in their designated year group areas or in the canteen to catch some breakfast before lessons. Students continue to arrive during that half hour period, and some are still getting out of cars in front of the school as the first bell of the day rings.
As in most schools, when the bell goes there is a slow moving process as the corridors fill and the occupants flow from their year area to their designated registration classes. Registration is at 8.55 and usually just takes the form of a brief attendance check, the passing on of any information to the class for the day or coming week, and covering various administrative matters. Afterwards, the move begins again as students make their way to their first class of the day.