That sentiment usually means asking yourself “am I using my time productively?” We think of our goal as maximizing the use of every minute of every day. The question I have on this Friday though is this: Is being productive all the time really productive?
Or put in another way, is our constant focus on squeezing the most out of every bit of our time an effective strategy to improve teaching and learning?
I’m beginning to think the answer is no.
Two ideas prompted this perhaps blasphemous conclusion.
1) Recently there has been a lot of talk about giving Wall Street folks their weekends back. An article in last week’s New York Times explained:
Citigroup said internally on Wednesday that it was making an effort to improve the lives of the analysts and associates in its investment bank, the two lowest employee levels in that division. Those junior bankers are now encouraged to stay out of the office from 10 p.m. on Friday through 10 a.m. on Sunday. Citigroup also said on Wednesday that junior bankers were expected to take all of their annual vacation days.
The new policy follows similar moves by some of the biggest banks on Wall Street. Goldman Sachs recommended last year that analysts take weekends off whenever possible, while JPMorgan Chase plans to ensure that young employees have one “protected weekend” set aside for rest each month.
This set of policies is undoubtedly built on the business-minded idea that giving workers downtime fosters great productivity in the long run.
2) When you talk about innovation, you have to talk about Google. One of the policies that has until recently given Google an innovative edge is its 20% projects initiative. This program allowed Google employees to spend 20% of their time on project that they were passionate about, but was not part of their job responsibilities. The result? Innovations like Gmail and Google Glass.The lesson? Give people space to be creative!
So what does this mean for teachers? I think it means we need to rethink our emphasis on making sure we spend every moment of our day on things we typically consider productive. Sure it feels good to check tasks off the lists, but sometimes reading a really interesting article without a specific end in mind can yield better long term results.
So this weekend, give yourself some space for creativity and innovation! Let us know how it goes.