First, let me warn you that this piece is a bit confessional. It might not right now apply to your general situation but hopefully these thoughts about my own life, might have some bearing on your own life and teaching.
Yesterday, I was skyping with an old friend who I admire a lot. We talked about the usual stuff. Sports, food, gossip etc…. then, he gave me a piece of advice that has led me to write this. He said, “David, you do too much!”.
Now, I had to think about that. Meaning, yes, I do a lot and am always being labeled, “a hard worker” etc… But I’ve never felt like I was working “hard”. Rather just being who I am and doing wasn’t working, it was being. However, I’m reconsidering.
My friend went on to suggest that “less is more”. That by doing so much, my impact, my usefulness to others, was not as effective as “doing less”.
Now, I’ve always espoused the wisdom of a motto I came up with, “Live simply, simply live”. But suddenly, I am now confronted with the fact that even if I enjoy doing so much – it might not be the right thing. This “more” might lead to “less”. Kind of like when you eagerly throw a lot of spice on your pasta and then find it is inedible.
I’m moving back to the farm in Canada. Going back to chop wood and think/write. But I also think it is a good time to “do less”. To really do some more simple but in that way, more “powerful” things.
It is something we should think about in our teaching. We should all forget these monikers like “unplugged” and “dogme”. Really, they are only approaches that stand for “Simple Teaching”. We do too much with our students in language. We need to slow down and do less. Doing less is more. I won’t elaborate but I hope you/me/we/us think about that and the effect it could/will have on our teaching. My guess is something DRAMATIC. I talked a bit about this in this post about teaching skills.
In my own teaching, I am guilty and this is the number one thing that teachers/students have complained about. I throw too much at them, have them do too much. It is overwhelming. I have to think about this criticism and develop and do less, to do more.
So expect to hear less from me online. But in a very important way, that will be MORE.
[to finish, please enjoy this talk (not about tech despite the name) by Barry Schwartz. Lots of food for thought/researched examples by this fine man/thinker. ]