“Listen now, work later.”

Procrastination is real and affects us all.  Every day human beings face the choice between energy and effort expenditure now (painful) and putting that off until later (not as painful – right now).  There’s no reason to think this would ever go away.

What if the way kids are taught today exacerbated the problem?

Do you ever remember sitting in class and deciding not to pay very close attention, because you knew that you weren’t really going to learn it until you got home to do the homework or the reading on your own?  Or when you would visit the teacher or tutor later for a one-on-one lesson?

Most people recognize that it isn’t without writing the essay, or doing the problem set problems, that  a subject is really learned. Yet for 18 years of life (or more), we subject kids to hour-long lectures about something they aren’t going to get until they do the WORK.

I still go to school part-time, and still recognize how easy it is during lecture to “check-out,” recognizing that I’m not really going to be able to understand that valuation methodology before I do homework.  So life is short…why am I in the lecture?  Seems like a waste.

Let me clarify:  This is not the rant of a frustrated drop-out.  I have always been a great student.  Top schools, great college, top grades, top grad school.  Yet most of what I recall from years of lectures is boredom and resignation – knowing that I would only really learn anything once I encountered the material in an environment where I could WORK with it.

So what are most kids are doing in lecture?  Wasting life, I might say, and developing a mental attitude of resignation and absenteeism from their immediate environment. And that has GOT to foster behaviors that we bring with us to other areas of life.

It goes without saying that the traditional classroom environment is almost wholly unconducive to fostering an environment of work – even with the best, most engaging teacher, the traditional classroom is engineered to the core to treat kids as passive objects, poised to consume or absorb knowledge.  Too bad learning doesn’t work that way.

We’ve got kids, and work, all wrong.  They want to WORK.  We all want to.  We should have them work on the material, not listen to it, or view it on a chalkboard or projector.  Nothing is a draining as a day without productive activity.  It can’t NOT be harmful to one’s formation, ability to focus,  and tendency to meaningfully engage with an environment, to spend 6-8 hours a day, every day, for 18 years, with a primary stance of partial- to complete-resignation.


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