For most adults, and even children, finding time is increasingly difficult. It seems ironic that the inventions we have created to ‘save time’ have not actually had that effect. Rushing around each day, in this era of technological conveniences, we have to ask, what has happened to the phantom time we have allegedly saved? Let’s take the example of the fax machine.
In the late 1970’s and early 1980s, the fax machine was heralded as an amazing time saver. We marveled at the fact that tasks formerly taking weeks to complete via traditional mail, could now be executed in an instant! Voila! Hooray for people everywhere! With such increased efficiency, our industries could move on from tedious transactional matters to the really important stuff. Productivity would increase and, at the same time, families would enjoy richer, more meaningful lives. In the decades that have passed since the arrival of this time-saving machine, where did all of our ‘time saved’ go?
Turns out we didn’t ‘save’ time at all. We found ways to do everything faster, but perhaps not better. We now engage in a permanent state of action, leaving even less time for reflection. In contrast, our old fashioned ‘snail mail’ carried the benefit of a well crafted letter with a personal touch. Delay brought reflection, anticipation, and planning- essentially, real brain work. It turns out that the rhythm of life matters. Experts agree that children benefit deeply from a state of ‘boredom’. So do grownups. We all need a time out; time to recharge, reflect and connect with our slower side. http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/raise-great-kids/intellegent-creative-child/boredom-busters-good-for-kids.
Balancing instant gratification with the benefits of waiting is the new challenge of our era. IKEA capitalizes on the idea of ‘old as the new new’ with a clever ad about its ‘bookbook”.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Syd1pKOJ__k This ad reminds us that sometimes not everything in our lives has to be improved in the name of progress. ‘More’ and ‘faster’ do not always equal ‘better’. In this regard, we have to wonder if the modern approach to homework in the name of progress is having its intended result. As our children suffer endless hours of additional homework (after a seven hour school day)-we have to ask ourselves, are they turning out to be better educated than earlier generations because of it? Have we truly advanced as a society by adding more to our already full schedules?
Seizing the day involves mindfulness. We must do more with our time saved to make memories earned. Memories are our biological time machines. From the millions of seconds that pass by unnoticed in our lives, a few special seconds hold our hearts and stay imprinted in our mind. We are able to revisit the places and times where we paused, giving our full attention to an experience rather than mindlessly performing a task. Making memories with our personal time machines requires proper programming with scheduled time outs. Educationally, leaders need to build structures that require balance. Our planning must prioritize:
- Quality over quantity. Modern education is about formulating the right questions. Avoid mindless memorization of disconnected content. Rethink time assigned to homework.
- Experience over dissemination. Create multi-sensory, real world experiences that will become memories for our children. Think field trips, not lectures.
- Personalization over standardization. One size doesn’t fit all, ever.
- Growth mindset over a fixed mindset. The world of information is constantly changing, as well as our ability to influence it. All of us can become stronger, smarter and more capable if we practice and examine our technique.
- Fast and Slow. Efficiency and engagement are essential. So too are reflection and relaxation.
Memories are the brain’s way of prioritizing information. They are the largest files in our complex, living filing cabinets because they involve more than facts. They involve feelings. Science tells us that memories don’t exist in a place in our brain, they exist as a process of time travel. Our minds recall experiences based on our both our emotions and perceptions (essentially our five senses). This is why I can still smell the bread my grandmother used to bake, I can see her kitchen and remember us laughing at the table. I cannot remember all 50 state capitals, but I understand the causes of the civil war because my teacher at the time created a wonderful role-playing activity that involved me riding a pretend horse named Rusty. Memories are our way of bringing the past into the future.
As helpful as the fax machine and its web based successors have become regarding instantaneous communication, these same tools don’t save our time. We the people must do that. We must choose to plan a picnic with our loved ones (sans technology) just to watch the clouds. This makes way for inspiration. In the end, it is the time savored that will forever be our own.