Work less, think more…

Yet another quiet week in the world of education, unless of course you’re a middle-aged university lecturer hoping for early retirement, in which case, things are looking up.

I was about to give up on a post for this weekend when I came across this item:

Cut working week to 21 hours, urges think tank

Suddenly I was back in the early 1970s when Tomorrow’s World was confidently predicting that by the turn of the century we’d all be enjoying extensive leisure time. And here we are again – cut the working week to 21 hours and become better parents, children, citizens, carers and neighbours.

Now I fully agree of course – marvellous, can’t wait (though a bit galling for all those university lecturers who’ve just been given early retirement after a lifetime’s stress and anxiety). But as the foundation’s policy director admits: ‘A cultural shift will throw up real challenges’, and let’s face it that’s an understatement.

The trouble is that although we want massive cultural change in many things, including education, no-one knows how to even start the ball rolling, let alone achieve it.

Back in October’s inaugural post Going for Gold I made some suggestions as to the sorts of big issues we should be considering if we are really going to change anything. If we’re all going to work less and educate better, we are going to have think a lot more about how to actually get there.

2 comments on “Work less, think more…

  1. An interesting post. Reminds me of a TED talk I watched recently. It suggests although we’ve already solved the engineering challenges of some major cultural/societal issues, we never quite make it in a lot of fields to the end game, essentially due to a failure of marketing. I think in this scenario, we’re still trapped by an outmoded, outdated mindset that views hard work as a substitute for hard thought. Thought is infinitely more valuable in the long term than hard labour and is the only way we will successfully transition to this “utopia” that is being talked about, but all this needs to be marketed correctly. It’s the same with issues like binge drinking – the real change is to move people’s perceptions to a place where binge drinking is not acceptable behaviour. Similarly we need to change social perception that overworked overstressed lifestyles are acceptable.

  2. I just remembered a perfect example of this “social nudge” that is discoursed about in the talk. In Germany parents get a years worth of leave for one member after child birth to be split at the discretion of the couple involved and they get paid half the combined income of the couple for the previous year. This is the kind of activity/social policy that needs to be adopted for successful implementation of this idea.

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