Oh. Well in that case…

People spend too much on babies and learning. We perceive an urgency or risk, and so we let our guard down and accept what the salesman tells us.

“Don’t skimp on a new car, your child’s life is at risk.”

On the one hand, we need to buy quality goods. There is such a thing as an unsafe car. But Mercedes isn’t the only company that makes safe ones. Brand new cars (with brand new car payments) aren’t the only ones that are safe either. Continue reading “Oh. Well in that case…”

How Investments Work

Investments work on a simple principle: forgo consumption today, and reap the ability to consume more later.

If we spend a little less from our paychecks, we can save for retirement. After a little effort spent selecting good mutual funds, the magic of compound interest will cause this money to grow, becoming capable of purchasing more in the future than it can purchase today.

It’s not a big stretch to look at time the same way: Continue reading “How Investments Work”

Who’s in Charge Here? Budgeting Your Time

Students face a number of unique circumstances that create stress in their lives. Typically, effort in any one class comes in peaks and waves. Overlay 5 classes, and you find yourself with a fire to put out every week. It doesn’t take long before you’re fighting to survive, no longer exploring and digging into the material because you want to learn it.

Three of the most hated words in the English language

Continue reading “Who’s in Charge Here? Budgeting Your Time”

Why Time Management Doesn’t Work for Students and Teachers

The promise of most classic productivity books is: “follow my steps and you’ll be able to get more done, faster.”

The promise of most recent productivity books is: “follow my steps and you’ll be able to get the right things done, largely by saying ‘no’ to the wrong things.”

I’ve read them all. I’ve tried them all. I bought the best apps. None of them worked for me. Why? Because the world of academics is unlike any other. Continue reading “Why Time Management Doesn’t Work for Students and Teachers”

Course Coordination and Control

Weeks 1-5 of the semester: lectures, reading assignments, homework (some of which is collected and graded). Maybe a quiz or two.

Week 6 of the semester: TESTS!

Every semester is the same thing. Each class arrives at big assignments at the same time: tests always seem to land in the same week. As do project assignments and due dates. Of course, Finals Week is designed that way intentionally.

How can we stay on top of it all? Continue reading “Course Coordination and Control”

Unconscious Self-Sabotage

It’s 10:00 PM, you’ve got 2 assignments due tomorrow, a quiz the next day, and an exam the day after that. You haven’t eaten dinner yet, and you haven’t started either assignment. You think to yourself, “if I could just clear this to-do list, I would manage my time better. I wouldn’t get behind again.” You knuckle down to work the assignments, but the quiz and the exam continue to eat your attention.

And the biggest problem of all: you were in the same place yesterday, with different work against different deadlines. Continue reading “Unconscious Self-Sabotage”

Too Much Coverage

As we gear up for a new semester, teachers and students alike hope that this will be the best semester ever. We’ve got some work to do, or we will find ourselves in the same place as last semester: busy working without learning, stressed, firefighting, just trying to survive.

In my last post I discussed 6 sources of burnout: three for teachers to work on, and three for students. Here I’ll address one for teachers. Students: you should know this too.

Continue reading “Too Much Coverage”

New Semester Resolutions

Think back to the end of last semester. How did that go for you? How much sleep did you lose preparing for exams? Were you overwhelmed with coursework and study that needed doing? Did you simultaneously have several projects and several exams to prep for? How many assignments did you complete/turn in minutes before the deadline? Did you cope by picking up any bad habits? Did you feel in control of your world?

Now, think ahead to this semester. Did you read the course descriptions? Are you excited? Have you made any “New Semester Resolutions” to study more, start your homework earlier, manage your time better?

Last question: did you make these same resolutions at the start of last semester?

Is this what it feels like to learn?

Continue reading “New Semester Resolutions”

Pride Kills Connected Learning

If you spend more than a minute with a good search engine, you can find dozens of explanations of just about any topic. Written articles, blog posts, podcasts, videos, books, slides, and infographics are just some of the many formats.

Yet when a teacher sits down to create lesson plans, the beginning is always Lecture Notes. The teacher presumes that before engaging with the topic, the students need him to explain it as only he can. When the teacher spends all of class time lecturing, she makes the implicit statement that the myriad of explanations on the internet are inferior to her own.

Is this pride? Is it fear? Perhaps teachers are afraid that if they aren’t lecturing, they aren’t needed anymore.

Teachers are(can be) much more than content delivery machines.