Friday, March 1, 2013

Learning "For Distance" or "For Time"

 When using a treadmill, one can take two basic approaches.
  1. Run (or walk) for distance.
  2. Run (or walk) for time.
Going for distance means you move until you cover a set distance.  How long it takes you to go that far is not important.  What is important is that you covered a specific distance.

When you go for time, the distance doesn't matter.  You set the workout for a specific amount of time and move until time runs out.  How far you went doesn't matter.

Students are busy.  There is often a great deal of activity in their schedules and, like many people, their lives are managed by a list (written or remembered) of things to do.  There is value in living by lists.  They can help  organize and remind you to do important things.

However, there is also a downside to ONLY living by the list.  Doing so can reinforce a habit of getting things done for the sake of doing them.  In other words, get it done/cross it off the list/move on to something else.  In the case of students, school work is often an item that needs to be done in order to do something else that is MUCH more enchanting to them.  So, the habit of just getting wok done and moving on emerges.

Then, one day, getting it done doesn't work anymore.  Now, the work needs to be done with care, with creativity, with passion, an in a manner that can be shared with others - proudly.

This is when students with whom I work come to me with confused looks about how to get back on track and begin doing better work.  This is when I use the treadmill analogy.

If you are doing your school work to complete it and move on, it is like running for distance.  Cover the mile, read the pages, do the problems, .... and move on.  With a life that is demanding more time for other things, the tendency will be to speed up, cover the mile faster, and do something else.

On the other hand, running for time - doing your work for a set period - doesn't reward speed.  It rewards care, accuracy, and attention to detail.  One strategy I suggest is the 30-30-30 plan.  Do 30 minutes of work, take a break, do another 30 minutes, and repeat once more.  Set a minimum time and if you finish before time is up, go back over your notes, check your work for accuracy, edit that paragraph one more time, etc.

Sometimes, it is useful to get the job done and move on to the next item.  We need to be open to doing that or the work may become overwhelming.  We should also recognize and appreciate the power of slowing down and "learning for time" as well.   
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...