Work makes us human.

Rest is good, when legitimate.

We all know, though, how it feels to spend a day accomplishing nothing – being in or out of activity, without engaging in something meaningful (cleaning the house, working on a project, learning something).  Even having fun is accomplishing something (recreation or “re-creation”).

So why do we spend 6-8 hours a day between the ages of 6-22 NOT working?  The force of will required to sustain attention to a lecturer is a wholly different kind of activity than being caught up into the engagement of WORK.

Work is real, is meaningful, and is satisfying.  We’re wired that way. We all know this to be true, even as we disparage work (perhaps most when we aren’t fully attuned or buy into to the purpose of the activity).

That disparagement is as likely as not the result of spending a fifth of life, spent in conventional schooling, receiving training in passivity, rather than activity.  We need to make school more like work.

Here’s an example:  Our careers certainly offer one-and-done opportunities like key meetings and presentations.  But how often is that, really?  In knowledge work, most of the time projects and deliverables are iterated, vetted, and transformed through the collaborative effort and input of many people, junior and senior.

Contrast that with the experience of preparing for a test, or writing a paper.  One-and-done.  The answers are right or wrong, no going back.  How does that correspond to the 40-50 years of a career we were supposedly being prepared for?  How does that cultivate the friendliness with error that risk taking and growth require?

Would it not make more sense to turn in a paper with the expectation of iterating?  What did I learn from getting paper back with red ink all over it, without the experience of iterating based on those comments?


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