Time and Tides: A New Wave of Learning

By: Jillian H.

Recently, administration has met to develop a new senior course for next year. Time and Tides, an interdisciplinary course named after prominent parts of the community, is described as a Montessori school within a school. The program boasts the combination of stewardships within the town, off-site visits, and making connections between learning and the real world as well as making connections amongst students and teachers.

In August, the pilot program ran for a week, attracting nearly twenty juniors and seniors. Five teachers, Mrs. Marino, Ms. Hart. Mr. O’Connell, Mrs. Coleman, and Mrs. Murray combined English, language, science, math, and art respectively under the overall theme of Roots. Peter N., a junior, claimed it was the best part of his summer. Senior Owen M. said, “The teachers created engaging assignments for the students in a way that left room for a lot of creativity…I think this style of hands-on learning is an excellent alternative to the traditional classroom.” Specific activities during the week included trips to Burial Hill Cemetery in Plymouth and the Duxbury Art Complex Museum, and making a mural from the outlines of the students’ bodies.

Time and Tides is modeled after a program at Concord-Carlisle High School called Rivers and Revolutions. Its founder, Michael Goodwin, is the son of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Superintendent Dr. Tantillo and Vice Superintendent Dr. Hunter heard about Rivers and Revolutions last year at a Massachusetts superintendents’ conference. They then brought it up during a school meeting, and a handful of teachers including Ms. Hart, Mrs. Marino, and Mr. O’Connell visited. Inspired by the collaborative relationships between students and teachers that they saw in Concord, they immediately began brainstorming ways in which to bring it to Duxbury.

So why Duxbury? Dr. Hunter said that she believes our community has many engaged students and teachers ready for a change, and to be among the first schools to adopt this style of learning would be exciting as well. Mr. O’Connell said, “I think it’s important for kids to have an opportunity…to explore their interests and be excited about the content that they’re learning.” Likewise, Dr. Tantillo said, “I believe that education is too compartmentalized. All of the subjects are taught separately. The world doesn’t operate in this manner.” Time and Tides promises a reinvented way to have ownership over one’s learning. Callie B. summarized the program simply, saying, “Time and Tides is more than just how well you can do on a test…it’s how you can use information in the real world.”

However, before Time and Tides can be picked up as a course in the high school, many obstacles need to be overcome. For one, the block schedule itself would have to change. In Concord, Rivers and Revolutions students attend only one regular class in the morning, and spend the rest of the day in the program. More semester-long courses would have to be developed at Duxbury, and issues such as what to do about AP classes, the music program, and college applications need to be addressed. As for colleges, the people behind Time and Tides are hoping they will appreciate the uniqueness of signing up for the course.

Principal Stephens said, “We’re at the point of asking questions…but the support is there.”

Photo Courtesy of Mr. O’Connell

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