Teacher Procrastination

Ross at Teaching For The Win once wrote:

I am 100% addicted to email, and am perpetually tethered to it via mobile internet. I know enough about myself that given addiction to X, no amount of promises to "limit" myself to Y indulgences in X over Z hours/days are going to cut it. I have to choose vast swaths of the day during which to go cold turkey.

And I have to turn off WiFi and leave my phone in the other room when I'm working at home. Only 100% rigid compliance to these rules will yield returns. (Just did it again. OMG. Attention span for the LOSS.)

But I am committed to doing everything I can to set myself up to be the most legit grinder I can be this summer/fall/life. I didn't participate in a single fantasy draft this year. I deleted Scrabble and the NYTimes crossword from my iPhone months ago.

Tangible steps towards responsible teacherhood.

I was reminded of Ross just now. There's a great New Yorker book review about procrastination. I think you should read it instead of doing what you're supposed to be doing.

That led me to a fairly new product, which I plan to try out.

Freedom is a simple productivity application that locks you away from the internet on Mac or Windows computers for up to eight hours at a time. Freedom frees you from distractions, allowing you time to write, analyze, code, or create. At the end of your offline period, Freedom allows you back on the internet. You can download Freedom immediately for 10 dollars through either PayPal or Google Checkout.

Back to the review of The Thief Of Time (which I predict many people will buy, from the glowing review, and then not read. I may be one of them.)

First, there's a persuasive case that procrastination is a "complex mixture of weakness, ambition, and inner conflict." Then:

But some of the philosophers in “The Thief of Time” have a more radical explanation for the gap between what we want to do and what we end up doing: the person who makes plans and the person who fails to carry them out are not really the same person: they’re different parts of what the game theorist Thomas Schelling called “the divided self.” Schelling proposes that we think of ourselves not as unified selves but as different beings, jostling, contending, and bargaining for control....

If identity is a collection of competing selves, what does each of them represent? The easy answer is that one represents your short-term interests (having fun, putting off work, and so on), while another represents your long-term goals. But, if that’s the case, it’s not obvious how you’d ever get anything done: the short-term self, it seems, would always win out.

The philosopher Don Ross offers a persuasive solution to the problem. For Ross, the various parts of the self are all present at once, constantly competing and bargaining with one another—one that wants to work, one that wants to watch television, and so on. The key, for Ross, is that although the television-watching self is interested only in watching TV, it’s interested in watching TV not just now but also in the future. This means that it can be bargained with: working now will let you watch more television down the road. Procrastination, in this reading, is the result of a bargaining process gone wrong.

Teachers struggle with procrastination. Not only are many teachers actually humans -- and therefore prone to human tendencies -- but there is a large workload tailor-made for procrastination tendencies, like grading papers, and large blocks of time where teachers (young ones in particular) are alone with their wi-fi'd computers.