Whether you teach history or not, the effect of your instruction is always limited by an array of underlying skills. Time management is chief among these abilities needed to exceed existing potential. Like many realizations I’ve made while teaching, valuing time management strategies were emphasized in my days before becoming a teacher.
Valuing time management
I frequently joke about my seven years selling real estate, claiming I wrote a best seller, How I Made $100 Selling Real Estate. While I didn’t make a good living at all in this field, I did enjoy much of the occupation as a direct result of putting in some real effort to become better and more knowledgeable.
Like many, I sought training from the masters in selling, namely Tommy Hopkins, perhaps the best known sales trainer of the time. I attended at least three seminars listen and learn from not only Tom Hopkins, but from other well-recommended sales trainers. Three observations remain with me from those experiences.
- I recouped the cost of the training as a result of new information.
- The top-selling agents always attended these seminars.
- Every training seminar devoted at least one-quarter of the seminar length to time management.
The implication of these observations relate directly to good teaching. For now, I’ll focus mainly on the final point, teaching time management.
It’s all relative
It was Tony Valant, my best friend since 7th grade and now a successful sales executive who first shared with me this observation.
“You know, when we were in high school, having to wait a year seemed so long because a year was a big fraction of our time on Earth.”
The point was immediately obvious. By the time Tony spoke those words, a year had gone from being .0588 of our seventeen years to thirty-three thousandths at age 30. Not only had an hour seemed an eternity in some classes, the effect was multiplied by an overall lack of concept. Our idea of time was still in its infancy in those teen years.
Teaching well demands teaching time management
As a world class procrastinator I really should have more empathy for students who begin work on a big project the night before it’s due. The fact is time management is a skill no less difficult to master than dribbling a basketball, (which I’ve never learned, or interpreting conflicting accounts of the past.
The abstraction of time management is not on any standardized test I’ve seen. Like many such concepts and skills upon which knowledge is overlooked in favor of scores, it’s not surprising so many of us unwisely conclude our limited time with students simply can’t include the teaching of time management. This wide-spread bad habit is, of course, self-defeating in the long run, but such practices are strongly reinforced in schools.
Ironically, just in my own lifetime I’ve seen school adopt first agenda books, and now, computers allowing 24 hour access to free, high-quality and simple to use time-management tools. I see these innovations as the most important of all changes in public education since my days as a student! Unfortunately, students aren’t rigorously trained, if at all, in the use of time management tools, and so students are unintentionally taught to place very low value on the idea.
For now, an army of teachers continue to blame students and assign grades for outcomes that have always been dependent on time management skills never taught.