Cultures of Thinking (CoT)
Time: Learning to be its master rather than its victim
Time (noun): The containers, consisting of measurable periods, that we allocate, assign, or use to accomplish tasks of our choosing. An entity through which we recall, sequence, and make sense of our experience.
The element of time can be a gift and curse all at the same time. Often we find ourselves searching for more time, and we allow time to dictate our actions rather than managing time ourselves. Schools ultimately live in a world of deadlines, points to cover and those involved become “Human doers” versus “Human Beings.” In First Things First, Stephen Covey states, “The way we see (our paradigm) leads to what we do (or attitudes and behaviors); and what we do leads to the results we get in our lives” (1994, p. 28). Covey also argues that by changing our paradigms, we ultimately change the results.
In Creating Cultures of Thinking, Ron Ritchhart (2015) elaborates on Covey’s thinking, “When we consider time not as periods of the day that we fill, but as a cultural force sending messages about what we value and shaping students’ learning, we take a step toward thinking about time differently, toward changing our paradigm with regard to time” (pg. 110). He also argues that how schools and parents allocate time within their buildings, classrooms, or homes send messages to their students and children about what is important. These messages shape the culture of the school, the classroom, and the home (Ritchhart, 2015, pg. 98). As a school community, we need to continually examine how we allocate time to ensure we are sending the message which puts student thinking and learning at the core.
Covey (1994) designed a time management matrix. He created the four quadrants of human activity: (1) Urgent and Important, (2) Not Urgent and Important, (3) Urgent and Not Important, and (4) Not Urgent and Not Important. Quadrant 2 is the space where we ultimately want to spend most of our time. He states, “Increasing time spent in this quadrant increases our ability to do. Ignoring this quadrant feeds and enlarges Quadrant 1, creating stress, burnout and a deeper crisis for the person consumed by it” (1994, p. 38). When we schedule our “Big Rocks” first, give priority to the things that are most important, we truly are “Putting first things first.”
It is crucial that we manage time in a way that supports thinking, not only for students but for adults. We need to be clear about our priorities, so we can plan beyond the schedule and cover the curriculum focusing on the learning and thinking that needs to take place at home and at school.