skip to Main Content

20% Time in Schools (just like Google)

blue crtystal ballsCould Google time make learning more engaging and develop the skills of life-long learners?

Google’s “20% Time” is a philosophy and policy that every Google employee spend 20% of their time (the equivalent of a full work day each week) working on ideas and projects that interest that employee. A number of schools are looking at ways of following Google’s lead and providing students with 20% time.

An article in the Huffington Post by Katherine von Jan includes the following observation. “Ask a kid what they want for their birthday, and they’ll tell you 10 things. Ask them what they want to learn? They don’t know, because they’ve never been asked. They’ve been taught to follow the rules and jump through prescribed hoops set by authoritarians who know what’s good for them. They design a school day to ensure that all kids get the same “basics” and manage their day to deliver it to them. How can we expect more from students at the end of that journey?”

Our crowded curriculum is certainly a barrier to 20% time but many school leaders are getting creative and exploring ways to integrate learning more.

This blog post from AJ Juliani unpacks one approach.

The 20% Project Agreement

  1. For the rest of the year, 20% of your time in my class will be spent working on something you want to work on.
  2. It has to be some type of learning and you have to document it (journal etc).
  3. You’ll present your accomplishments to the class twice (and will not be graded on it).
  4. That’s it. Have fun. Find your passion. Explore it. Enjoy learning what you want.