[Editorial] Measures of Change
by The Milton Measure on Friday, September 21st, 2012
This year, Milton’s opening week schedule was revamped. In an attempt to streamline the awkward gap days between Labor Day and the official start of classes, the administration moved to alter freshman orientation activities, giving seniors more unstructured time, making every students’ schedule available early online, simplifying the registration process, and micromanaging the hours of textbook buying. To accomplish this organizational feat, the school drew up 16 seperate schedules for different demographics of students and teachers and gave each individual a personalized calendar on myMilton.
Despite the hectic planning and good intentions, these changes recieved mixed results. As our opinion page this week attests (see pg. 5), student perspectives on the success or failure of the opening of school varied and were, in some cases, quite strong. Reaction was particularly visible among members of Class I, who, as the most acclimated to the prior schedule and the most affected by the new system, found themselves caught off-guard. On the whole, however, we must give the administration credit for experimenting and trying out new methods. While the opening of school experience — especially for Class I — was logistically challenged and occasionally ill-conceived, we prefer to have an administration that is willing to make alterations to established traditions, rather than one that continues obsolete norms regardless of their present utility.
A good dose of simplicity and feedback from this year’s trial run should remedy most of the worst problems from the new opening of school. Though Chinese military theorist Sun-Tzu encouraged generals to withhold the entirety of their plans from their troops, the same principle works less well in an academic setting. Instead of sixteen disparate schedules, the school should create one master schedule for students, faculty, and parents, so everyone knows what to expect. On a similar note, communication should be clearer and more direct; many students arrived at school not knowing what to do, and day-student parents were often left in the lurch, dropping their children off at school well before they needed to arrive.
As always, hindsight is 20-20. While the beginning of school was not a seamless transition from summer to fall, it never has been. Ultimately, experimentation is always welcomed, particularly at 200 year-old educational institutions. Certain aspects of the new opening of school worked well, particularly the early accessibility of student schedules. Overall, we consider ourselves fortunate to belong to a school led by a forward-looking, innovative administration. We ended last year by noting the necessity of consistent traditions around which to organize our lives– the beginning of this year reminded us all that changes to those traditions, while not painless, are equally necessary, and can have crucial benefits.
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