Slow it Down

Well, here we are again at the beginning of another year. Welcome back!

One of our blog posts last year, mused on the question of why teachers (and as we were reminded – support staff), are so tired. It’s a common theme, not only in education, but also in other professions.

The thing about today’s fast-paced, high-tech, instant-information lifestyle (and workstyle); is that we are expected to be switched-on, tuned-in 24 hours a day. It’s expected of us. In fact it is demanded of teachers by students, parents, the department and sometimes even colleagues.  And teachers by their very nature will push themselves at a pace, in order not to let anybody down.

But over the last few years there has been a backlash, a push against that pace. This is reflected in things like the Slow Food Movement, the popular return to home crafts and the more recent generation whose approach to work is one that allows time for self, family and friends.

Interviewing a young games developer for Work-Ready recently, one of his pieces of advice was to dedicate time to slow down and recharge. It’s good advice and it echoes that given by journalist Carl Honore in his TedTalk In praise of slowness. Posted in 2005, it’s not a recent post but it is relevant none-the-less, perhaps more so now that we are so connected to our devices.

Honore isn’t advocating being slow. Indeed there are times when there is the need for speed. What he does suggest is that in order to reduce our stress and invest the time and attention to things that they really need, we have to slow down. When we are rushed, we make mistakes. When we are rushed we miss the detail. When we are rushed we don’t allow ourselves the time to think creatively.

As educators you are lucky to have witnessed those special eureka moments of your students. There is nothing better, so give them a chance and slow it down in the classroom. You have experienced these moments yourself when a great idea is formed or a problem solved, so give yourself a chance – slow it down in your life! The chances are that those moments did not happen when you were flat out and juggling tasks at break-neck speed!

It’s this break-neck speed and the pressure that educators put themselves under that takes its toll intellectually, emotionally and also on your body. It eventually leads to burnout – you’ve seen it happen. Easy to say and more difficult to do, but perhaps it’s time to slow down and break free of the frantic pace. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic upheaval.

  • Unplug those devices occasionally
  • Say a polite no to that extra yard duty
  • Take your lunch break away from distractions
  • Walk the dog
  • Take up fishing
  • Dedicate time for yourself to read, relax, listen to music, spend time with friends
  • Have a glass of wine!

Give yourself more time; nobody else will grant it to you. We can almost guarantee that you will find yourself less distracted, more relaxed, thinking more clearly and enjoying life and school just a little more. This year try it and see how it goes.

You will find Carl Honore’s TedTalk In Praise of Slowness here: