By RJ Snell, July 21, 2010 in Pedagogy and Teaching, What is Education?
A while back I wrote a piece at First Principles on education and moral imagination in which I included a brief defense on wasting time well. I claimed:
. . . efficiency and busyness are values of the machine and a machine age, and they grind imagination into the imagination of bolts and pulleys, computing and spitting out. Instead, refuse the tyranny of instrumental reason and learn to waste time well. Go for a walk in the woods. Tell some jokes. Explore a used bookstore. Haunt a church. Idle a day away staring at beautiful things in boutiques you cannot afford to go into—my own preference is for paper stores. . . .
The delightful Alain de Botton writes at City Journal in praise of distraction, for "[t]he past decade has seen an unparalleled assault on our capacity to fix our minds steadily on anything. To sit still and think, without succumbing to an anxious reach for a machine, has become almost impossible."
The obsession for current events, for remaining current, for the new and interesting, leaves us in a state of dissolution, but "[o]ur minds, no less than our bodies, require periods of fasting."
I find myself in a catch-22 sometimes, for my students are inextricably caught in a system of more, more, faster, faster and I want to encourage them to wasting time well (one might call that leisure.) But the tendency is not for leisure but for entertainment, certainly not towards the craft of doing work well and carefully, so I tend to pile work on them in hopes that the need to read lots of Augustine or Aquinas will keep them from sheer distraction.
Any ideas on teaching the art of wasting time the way free people do this?