Bringing Back Friday

The NY Times has an interesting article about the trend away from Friday courses on college campuses, and efforts to bring back the serious five-day week. As far as it goes it is interesting, but I think that it misses two points. One, there is a strong implication that it is primarily student pressure to avoid Friday classes – there is only one brief mention that faculty are expected to do much more than teach and having a work day with fewer teaching obligations helps keep on top of research and community obligations.
Second, even with Friday classes being common, Thursday will remain a party night. On a Monday-Wedneday, you have a full day of classes, and then have to finish any work due the next day and work on anything due later in the week as well. On Thursdays, you can just make sure you’ve finished up everything due the next day but can easily put off working on items due the following week because you have the entire weekend ahead of you. I even experience this on the faculty side – I try to stay a few steps ahead in lecture prep, grading, etc. but if it is Thursday and I have everything set to go for Friday, I take the night off because by that point in the week I’m usually exhaustsed. For the students, taking the night off just tends to take the form of partying.

6 thoughts on “Bringing Back Friday

  1. “Another entitlement for the faculty?” says the article. Whoa! Pretty sad when someone tries to label time for: research, committee meetings, student advising appointments, grading, and a small breather as “entitlement” as though it was a dirty word.
    I do agree with the quote later on that says: “The serious student is going to study no matter when you schedule an exam, even if it’s on Christmas, and the student who wants to party will do that.”
    I was fascinated to see the discussion of the range of hours per week devoted to studying from the low teens to the twenties. I certainly worked more hours than the maximum stated just for my 3.2 GPA, but then I didn’t take “easy” classes because I wanted to get the most out of my education.
    I liked your explanation of why both students and professors may tend to “take off” Thursday night, regardless of whether there are classes on Friday. If there were no classes Friday, would they use the same criteria to start partying or “taking off” on Wednesday night?
    How about making Wednesday the day without classes? Wouldn’t we all be less fatigued if we worked in two-day stints at a time? I think this would make Wednesday more prone to being a “work” day for all. Less likely to mess up committee or group project meetings scheduled for the “off” day of Friday by having one or more individuals flying the coop for a long weekend instead of “working” on Friday?

  2. I seem to recall that my alma mater, way long before I was there, had Wednesdays only being a half day, but then Saturday morning classes. So, there was an official chunk of time during the work week when everyone was free. Of course – Saturday morning classes…..
    I also have to agree that the hours per week of studying number seemed incredibly low. If one only studies 20 hours a week, and spends, say, 12 hours in class, that’s only 32 hours out of the week spent on academics, or less than five hours a day. 20 hours of studying is just shy of three hours a day! That seems way too low to be realistic to me…

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