Musings on education
Something new each week starting soon
Many years ago, I worked for a bank. The potential for a good salary gave me incentive to stay and rise through the ranks. Initial annual holidays were two weeks if I took them in the summer or three weeks if I chose winter. The fact I chose winter was an early indicator of what I held as valuable: a block of time for myself.
When I became a teacher, there were of course strong intrinsic incentives. However, a strong extrinsic incentive was the block of time afforded teachers for summer breaks. During the school year, a good teacher works at least as many hours outside of class as inside the class and very committed teachers may prep and mark at a ratio of 2:1. So when summer comes, teachers decompress.
Time is ours.
During the long summer hiatus, teachers may choose to take courses, they may choose to travel, they may choose quality family time. But that's just it. They may choose. The time is theirs to use or abuse as they wish. This choice of how to use time brings an amazing amount of happiness.
In a recent article in The New York Times, research shows that those who value time over money are happier. Note the word "value" here. Valuing time more makes you happier than valuing money more. (That said, when a person who values time also has time, needs are met, just as when someone who values money has money, needs are met.) The article indicates that "even if you’re scraping by, and thus forced to focus on money, you’ll be happier if deep down you know it’s time that’s most important."
A few years ago, I moved into school administration and thus a good deal of my summer time became other people's time. A basic value that I held was undermined and a basic need was not being met. I created justifications: the job was "better" - after all, I was making more money. I had an important influence on more people than if I were a mere teacher. But my time belonged to others ...
Ten years ago, I returned to teaching and have since been happy on many fronts, including meeting my need for the time which I value. I work hard but have time to play hard.
So, is the expression "time is money" valid? In some concrete ways, very much so.
However, ask yourself this question:
"If your basic needs were met, would you want more time or money?" Your answer may tell you how happy you can be.
Until next weekend ...
(For the original study, you can access it by clicking the link to the journal "Social Psychological and Personality Science" below.)
"Enis, the curator of the project, normally works in an advertisement company. They worked with my father in Libya last year. My father said that I could work for his projects if he wanted me to. So basically the plan was I was going near him (Enis) taking photographs for his advertisements. Then he refused us and said that he worked with professionals.
Then they continued for my father’s architecture project. They were designing a bank together and they needed a bird photo for covering up a big window. They found one from the Internet and Enis tried to call the photographer and buy it. He couldn’t reach him. Then I sent a photo of a bird that I took in ARAS CIP (a Community Involvement Project for school) to my father. He sent that to Enis.
Enis: "Oh why did we try to buy the other one? This one is way better, we should buy this one."
My dad (laughing): "Oh what are you talking about? We won’t buy it because it is my daughter’s photo."
Enis was amazed and convinced that I was a good photographer by the end of that project.
One month ago when I was in Chicago, I received a text message from him (Enis) asking if I would travel 5 countries with him taking photographs for a project. My answer was of course "yes" but it was a "double yes" when I learned that two prestigious universities (KOÇ and Istanbul Universities) and the European Union were in it because I am only 17 and I couldn’t even dream about working for them.
I took my backpack – camera – tripod and was ready to travel! My dream was coming true, traveling with a backpack and taking photographs. This was what I want to be in the future. So we traveled to 5 countries in 2-3 weeks and tried to finish up everything. But most of the time the schedule wasn’t planned well. We were arriving in a city at 5 am and didn’t know where to stay. We were meeting with new people every day. ... I was so stressed because it was my duty to take photographs for an exhibition and I wanted all of them to express me.
I designed the posters, invitation cards and edited the photographs in the last 3 days, I was so stressed and messed up but last night (the opening) I forgot all of it because of being there with the people I love and them supporting me; it was unbelievable. It was better than what I have imagined."
Tulya and Enis' exhibit is in an area of the museum dedicated to nautical objects and images. The setting is perfect; her images hang amidst the salt and splendor of the Black Sea.
Here is a student who has blended an artistic eye, and a very good one, with an energy for her work to be seen and appreciated. May I say she has combined art and business? If such a mixture was good enough for the artists of the Italian Renaissance, why have we as a culture separated the two ideas? Tulya: well done on the work you have put into creating the photographs you have, and further kudos for "getting yourself out there".
You may view works by Tulya either by visiting the exhibit at the Rahmi Koç Museum (poster linked above) or by viewing some of her work online here. I understand that Tulya is starting to create a website and look forward to it being online in the near future.
She is one student of many who will be well served by entering the "real world" before leaving high school. I do hope it is a trend.
How well do we know our students and colleagues? Every few weeks, I find out that a colleague is a guitarist in a band, another has published his fourth book and yet another is a rock-climber. In the past week, I have discovered that a student is the number one chess player (under 17) in Europe and has just won 7th place in the world. These people are exceptional because they have a passion rather than a need for glory.
Yesterday, I found out that another student won Best Cinematography at the THIMUN Qatar Film Festival 2015. Quiet in class, new and passionate about film-making, Furkan has the eye of a budding expert. I am motivated and recharged by knowing these quietly passionate people with hidden talents. His six-minute film can be viewed below or on YouTube directly.
The school year begins. We must ACTIVELY pursue downtime in the form of truly enjoyable experiences that are not connected to school, or we will become overwhelmed. We must seek active engagement in events that are internally pleasurable rather than externally-mandated. Active engagement does not include sitting in front of a TV or a computer screen "socializing" on Facebook; it does include doing something that requires effort and focus on something not related to school in any way. With active focus, one can get into "the flow" (click to understand this concept developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi).
I am embedding a video of a few people who find the time to do what they really enjoy and get into "the flow". Spent Ex is a band that includes three teachers from the same school - two English teachers and a German teacher. On top of teaching, one runs the school's theater program, one heads the writing center and is the assistant dean of students as well, and the third is the director of student activities. They are strong candidates for being overwhelmed. They wear ties. They help students build character. They model expectations of the "real world". AND they balance life with what they love - massively manic music. After listening to them, think about what you can focus on that gets you into "the flow". It can be running, it can be cooking something new for friends, it can be anything where you are physically and mentally engaged. And yes, there is a story in the video!
I am looking for ideas to help me get into "the flow". Please add your ideas in the comment box, read those of others, expand on them. Let's share - so we can all get into "the flow".
And now ... SPENT EX, Live at the Zorlu Center in Istanbul, August 29, 2014 ... Enjoy! (ONLY if you cannot play this video directly, you can also access it on You Tube here ). Oh yes, for those who know the band, there is a treat here at 6:00 minutes :)