chapter  5
14 Pages

The organization of time in the English classroom

A brief history of (school) time

The organization of time is a central aspect of the work of the school, as it is of other social institutions. But its centrality does not imply homogeneity: the processes of schooling do not all follow an identical tempo. On the contrary it is possible to devise a typology of educational time that is highly variegated, from the relatively long timescales of child and learner development, to the short-term objectives of lessons. Moreover, time is contested, at many levels; and different social interests propose and implement different strategies and practices for its use. The contests and overlaps that result from such differences feature constantly in the organization of classrooms. The production of English, like that of any other school subject, involves a particular combination of imperatives and resistances, resources and constraints, regulation and agency that cluster around the use of time. In this chapter we explore the relationship between policy time, teacher time, and students’ time. In the process, we try to show how the systems of time-organization established by policy have a substantial effect on the timepractices of English lessons. But we also suggest that the relationship between teacher time and policy time is not simply one of conflict.