There are some faceless criminals in Norway that are responsible for stealing an unimaginable amount of resources. They are commonly referred to as the time thieves. We all know about them. I tried my best to fight them as a teacher. I started a job in Telemark county in 2008 and they decided the 10th graders needed a laptop each. This was a laptop the pupils loaned, but they “owned” it for the whole year, and it stuck to them like glue.
It was useful because they could turn in homework and tests on a closed site that most of the schools use (its Learning). I tried telling my superiors that we needed some restrictions because it undermined everything I was trying to do. So did the administrator by telling me to deal with it, and he interferred when I was. Every time I turned my back to those 3-4 that usually started this, they went back to playing poker or watching you tube. This was especially bad if I was taking over from another teacher and that teacher had left the classroom early (the school had a double period before recess) . Then I basically entered a riot. I could get most of them back on track again, but I usually lost the first 5-10 minutes of my class. This was a classic time thief.
I also felt as a teacher that far too much time was wasted on meetings and documentation. Teachers are expected to do some work at home, but there is a certain amount of time teachers in Norway have to spend at work. When they are done teaching for the day, there is still lots more to be done. Then they prepare for next day, call parents, write reports, grade papers, and have a lot of meetings. I could see the point about some of the meetings (especially those with the Educational and psychological services, and specific things we needed to address), but we frequently had meetings just because we had to have weekly meetings. It didn’t matter if we had something to address or not. This is the law and the administrator (head teacher) decides how you spend your time at work. It basically meant that I, needing more time than most people, had to bring more work home. This was a major time thief both at work and at home.
Technology has given us many devices that are supposed to give us more time, but I wonder how successful it has been. Maybe we have so much time that we have to waste it to fight boredom? I thought myself that I was completely addicted to my smartphone. I used it for reading news, blogs, email, listen to music, write posts on my blog, pay bills etc. I have been without a phone for two days now. It has slowly disintegrated and finally expired during Easter. I have to admit it is very inconvenient because everything is electronic these days, and because my computer died before Christmas. You can’t even go into a bank and pay bills anymore. You have to do that online or on a phone system similar to the net bank. The banks don’t handle cash either. Everything is electronic today, which is nice as long as it works (just a little reminder of what an EMP-weapon can do).
That phone was my watch, alarm clock and lifeline to the world when I didn’t have access to a computer. It hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be to be without, but I am looking forward to getting my new phone. It is a major time thief, though. Even in Church where our attention should be elsewhere, people tend to look at their phone. I think the idea of silence and not doing anything for a couple of seconds is unthinkable. I noticed that as a teacher as well. It has to be entertaining.
I didn’t have any problems giving up TV. Even science and nature channels focus on crap, aka reality shows. So TV isn’t much of a time thief for me anymore. I am quite guilty about internet, though. I spend a lot of time on my computer. It’s a thief if it’s taking something away from me, if there’s something I had planned to do, but couldn’t because I was surfing the net. It’s a thief if it’s draining me more than it’s recharging. I’d be lying if I said I never wasted time. I guess it is a little problematic because I find it easier to write than to talk. Internet doesn’t encourage me to talk to people, but it feels liberating to me that I am able to write what I can’t say. Internet has also allowed me to communicate with some pretty amazing people.
So I feel that as long as I still spend time with my family it’s alright. I spend a lot of time writing, and I believe that helps me deal with some of my demons. I have reduced my internet time some, though. That has allowed me to read more and to work on a book project. We all need some balance. We can reduce the time thieves’ influence, but it’s hard to get completely rid of them at this point.
Do you have some influences you want to reduce?
P.S. Easter brought me out of the forest for a while, and I had enough energy to play dice 10 000 with my family today. I mentioned autism and intervention a few posts ago. A game like this is perfect. It requires fine motor skills, simple calculation, waiting for turn, decision making, is an early reminder that things don’t always go your way, and it’s not so difficult that the concentration makes you stop talking. It’s a very social game.