Contrary to my previous promise, the focus of this post is not necessarily about making the lives of teachers easier. It does, however, take a look at how we view time in Western civilization, the idealization of time and how we can move toward other, equally valuable, ways of knowing outside of our thinking minds. This current study is about how we view time, how to embrace less linear paths and how to get back to our bodies through mindfulness in the classroom.
In “Being ‘Lazy’ and Slowing Down: Toward decolonizing time, our body, and pedagogy” Riyad Shahjahan (2015) uses the provocative word “lazy” to get our attention. And it works. I don’t know a single teacher I would describe as lazy, but most could use a little more lazy in their lives.
Shahjahan looks at the history of the Western view of time being, in many ways, equivalent to worth. Time is a tool for staying in the mind and disassociating from the body. This is especially true in higher education, where logic and reason rule, and time is seen as a scare resource. The way in which we use time, whether we are efficient, or not, can define our value. If you miss an opportunity to go to a conference because you’re too busy, how do you feel? The workload of the academic is immense and thus so is the importance we place on time.
Our bodies have become an extension of this Westernized, superior version of time. We have now turned our bodies into gangly houses that hold our precious time management system, our brain. Time is the god that we worship and disconnecting from the body helps facilitate this. Our bodies have become an obstacle to knowledge, rather than the rich source of information that it is.
There are other ways of “knowing” outside of the cognitive processes we so highly value. The body is often an untapped source of knowing, and Shahjahan suggests several ways that bring our focus back into ourselves. These techniques include being aware of the present moment, incorporating rituals into class and focusing more on silent reflection. I’ve talked about reflection before, and this is one more excellent reason to incorporate it into class. Integrating more sensory experiences and activities into lessons is another way to use this invaluable type of awareness.
Here is a visual interpretation of these ideas.
Things to think on:
- What is your view of time in the classroom and what type of value does it hold for you?
- Do you value other sources of knowing?
- Can you add a simple reflection into your lesson?
Tools that I used for this post:
Shahjahan, Riyad A. (2015). Being ‘Lazy’ and Slowing Down: Toward decolonizing time, our body, and pedagogy. Educational Philosophy and Theory: Incorporating ACCESS, 47 (5), 488-501. DOI: 10.1080/00131857.2014.880645