Why Daniel Pink’s FETC keynote on school timing sparked a tweetstorm

Timing is a logistical and a pedagogical issue, bestselling author told the audience
By: | February 25, 2020
Daniel Pink identified School start times, rearranging instruction and taking breaks askey issues for educators when delivered a keynote at FETC 2019. (Digital sketch by Amber McCormick/@EdTechAmber)Daniel Pink identified School start times, rearranging instruction and taking breaks askey issues for educators when delivered a keynote at FETC 2019. (Digital sketch by Amber McCormick/@EdTechAmber)

Best-selling author Daniel Pink’s Future of Education Technology Conference® keynote took place midmorning, when, in accordance with the theme of his speech on school start times, most people are best suited to learn.

Even a high school student would’ve gotten enough sleep to be invigorated by Pink’s insights into how K-12 administrators can rearrange instruction and start the school day later to take better advantage of a person’s cognitive cycles.

To repeat, that cycle goes as follows: our minds are raring to learn in the morning, they dip around midday and rebound into a period of creativity later in the day.

So, math first, followed by a nice, long, recess-like break, and then some type of open-ended learning as the school day ends.

“It’s not only a logistical issue, it’s a pedagogical issue,” said Pink, whose latest book, When, examines the impact of time on everything from education to medical care to business and jury decisions. “We have to be much more deliberate and intentional in the when of school The schedule isn’t about convenience and logistics; it’s about learning.”

In an exclusive Q&A with District Administration after his speech, Pink called rearranging the school day a ‘moral issue.’

Are we going to make education policy based on what’s good for students or what’s convenient for adults?

Even if your colleagues didn’t return from FETC and completely revamp your school’s schedule, Pink’s ideas caused a sensation. Based on tweets alone, the only @FETC-related user that was mentioned more times than @DanielPink, was the conference handle, itself.

Here’s a sample of @danielpink’s more than 450 mentions:

Healthier school start times

Another critical issue is school start times for high school students. In many districts, of course, high schools start before 8 a.m. and elementary schools begin around 9 a.m.

District leaders should work to swap these schedules because research shows that traditional, early start times contribute to teen depression, lower academic performance, higher risk of unhealthy behaviors and weight gain, Pink said.

Pink also emphasized the importance of giving students—and educators—breaks during the day to refresh.

“Don’t think of breaks as deviations from learning; think of them as part of learning,” he said. “We should fight for recess—not as nicety, but as a necessity.”


Interested in edtech? Keep up with the Future of Education Technology Conference®.