The question of time (where it comes from, how we manage it, what it is) arose this week when my friend and co-presenter at the RSC SouthWest Conference in Weston Super Mare, James Clay, answered a question about ‘time’ from the audience. He asked, rhetorically, what we do with our time now: do we sleep? do we eat? why is there never enough time? would we like more hours in the day? another day in the week? etc.
One of my employers this year asked those of us working as facilitators to kill such questions if they arose and close them down immediately, because there is no answer. But is that true – is there really no answer to the question of time?
I remember once, walking down the road from Richmond Station towards the Twickenham Rugby ground and considering the concept of ‘time‘
We, four of us, were on our way to the Rugby League Challenge Cup final, being held at the England Rugby Union H.Q. for the first time. This was the third home international R.U. venue to host the northern hoards who would travel to see the ‘the other code’s’ major trophy final. We’d previously been to Murrayfield in Edinburgh and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. 80,000 people were beginning to fill the streets around Richmond now en route to Twickenham and the going was slow.
As I walked along, I watched the steady stream of airplanes lining up to land at Heathrow, some miles away towards the east. One by one they lazily dropped towards the runway and it set me off thinking about how the passengers were experiencing their time on board and comparing it to the way my own time was passing. For me, in 30 minutes or so, I would be at the turnstiles; yet they would be at baggage collection or beyond, possibly even in taxis on their way to the same match as me? Yet the same 30 minutes of time would have passed: theirs quickly, mine slowly. Or so it would seem.
But how could time be experienced so differently?
cross country train
For me, daydreaming as we walked down that road, the time seemed interminable; but experience has taught me that for those on the plane, the time will have passed very quickly. Is it the things we are doing (or do) that determine the way we experience the passage of time? Is time really that flexible?
During our regular Saturday morning walk today (our weekly session in the metaphorical psychiatrists chair: See Crocodile Dundee for context and Mick’s reply to Sue’s comment that she was ‘going to the psychiatrists’: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090555/usercomments) my friend quoted a colleague of his who suggested that the problem with time these days (when addressing an audience of teachers) was that we all have part time jobs. Because we have these part time jobs, it makes it very difficult to make the time to develop our skills and to undertake personally directed professional development.
When pressed, John’s colleague told the audience that we all [sic] have a part time job watching 20 hours T.V. per week! So how on earth can we find time to develop ourselves.
But whoa!! How contentious is that? Surely we should be allowed time to relax after our days work? Surely we should be allowed to choose how we spend our ‘spare’ time? If we choose to watch T.V. instead of updating our skills – then we should be allowed to do so.
To carry out my work professionally I personally feel the need to constantly update my knowledge and understanding of technology and the application of learning and this involves time I might otherwise spend watching T.V. I do my updating as and when I can, in-between meals, in-between jobs, during jobs and occasionally while watching T.V. – I don’t have to; I just feel that I should. I feel that if someone pays me to do a job, I should do my best to perform that job as well as I can. Furthermore, instead of driving to long distance jobs, I now take the train and depending on need can use the time gained by not having to drive, to read and relax or to work. The choice is mine, but often, someone is paying me, so I work, or update myself. I couldn’t do this if I drove (well I could, if I had enough audio recordings and podcasts but …)
In this time of constantly changing technologies, tools and techniques, it is imperative that a professional teaching workforce is versed in those very technologies, tools and techniques that can support learners and provide learning opportunities. To do this, the workforce should undergo/undertake ‘e’CPD alongside more traditional CPD activities. I mean this in the overarching general sense, rather than the narrower government funded view of eCPD. The undertaking and understanding of ‘e’ is personal to the circumstances of each individual teacher – so they should be the ones to choose it’s path (with guidance).
There is an argument which suggests that employers should recognise this need and allow teachers the chance to undertake such professional development, and I would be the strongest advocate of such a move – as I have been for many years now. But cynicism and experience tell me that it will never happen until todays innovators reach those management positions.
So what do we do in the meantime?
Perhaps we should take more airplane journeys and use the extended (speeded up?) time provided to learn new skills or to do our T.V. watching.