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Volume 22, Number 6
November/December 2006

Three Thousand Missing Hours

Where does the instructional time go?


One of the most remarkable things about American classrooms is how little real teaching goes on there. Over the past five years or so, I have spent at least three or four days a month in schools studying the relationship between classroom practice and school organization. I observe classrooms at all levels—primary, middle, and secondary grades—and in all subjects. One of the most striking patterns to emerge is that teachers spend a great deal of classroom time getting ready to teach, reviewing and reaching things that have already been taught, giving instructions to students, overseeing student seatwork, orchestrating administrative tasks, listening to announcements on the intercom, or presiding over dead air—and relatively little time actually teaching new content.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

S. Intrator. “The Engaged Classroom.” Educational Leadership 62, no. 10 (Summer 2005): 20-25.

W. Schmidt et al. Why Schools Matter: A Cross-National Comparison of Curriculum and Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001.