20 % of personal time in class, why not?

Working 80 % of time on school projects, and 20 % on personal projects, this is an approach to consider in the classroom to promote the taste for learning, according to teacher AJ Juliani!

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Working 80 % of time on school projects, and 20 % on personal projects, this is an approach to consider in the classroom to promote the taste for learning, according to teacher AJ Juliani!

Basically, the concept of the 20 % comes from the beginnings of the Google company. It consists, for employees, of working 80 % of time on Google projects and 20 % on personal projects. Utopian? You should know that some of these personal projects have become flagships of Google: this is the case of Google News and Google mail.

The idea was to motivate employees to be creative, to love their jobs and, most importantly, to stay with Google. In the field of technology, there are a lot of small projects (startup) which develop and attract engineers or programmers who want to break out of the routine and structure of a large company. Innovative people who feel stuck in the routine and in a structure that is too rigid… Does that remind you of anything?

That said, according to an article by  ZDNet, the practice at Google would have since evolved towards a formula 120 %, which implies a 20 % of personal projects in addition to the regular work, which makes a good difference. On the other hand, the initial idea is interesting and could certainly, by being well structured, motivate a good part of the students. AJ Juliani, teacher and founder of the blog Education is my life, wrote a item suggesting a way to plan this 20 % in the classroom. Basically, this project is not evaluated, but the student must work on a subject that interests him. He must also document his process in a logbook and present it to the class. So there are a lot of learning opportunities. In practice, the formula could be adapted in many ways.

This same author also proposes the article 10 reasons to try 20% time in the classroom, this time via Edudemic. Here are 5 reasons to think about implementing this approach in your classroom, as he suggests them.

1) Allow students to explore a subject that inspires them
The programs are often overloaded and the different subjects are seen superficially. Students will therefore develop their ability to push further.

2) Allow students to stop playing the “school game”
Many students do homework for grades, which eventually turn into a diploma. They don't do it because they are passionate. Last year, a student of 5e secondary school named Rachel Camiré made a presentation on the occasion of TEDx Drummondville, devoted to education. This student, first in class, explained the importance of redefining this "game". Listen or re-listen to his presentation here.

3) Allow to have fun!
Who doesn't want to have fun in life? Nothing more to add…

4) Learn by doing, not by being passive
Learning math is much more effective by doing exercises than by listening to the teacher. Likewise, doing your own research on a topic is much more profitable than listening to someone talk about it.

5) Sow the idea of being a lifelong learner
The school experience greatly influences the perception of learning. Some people drop out of school and never open a book again, or try to find new things, because of bad memories. Giving people a taste for learning is a real gift.

So when do you start?

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About the Author

Sébastien Wart
Sebastien wart
Director of teaching and educational innovation at Saint-Paul College. A specialist in technological integration, Sébastien was an IT and Web optimization consultant at the FÉEP as well as an educational consultant in technology integration and a teacher at the Collège de Montréal.

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