The Worst Habit I Developed In School
Found another corner in my rec room office today after I set up some shelves in the garage and moved some books there. As I looked at some of the journals and how-to-books and other texts that I had barely cracked open, I tried to remind myself, and not for the first time, that I need to take on fewer projects but make sure that I see the ones I do undertake to full completion. Otherwise I wind up with my time and attention and energy scattered, which just makes me loath to get anything done.
I think this is something I picked up in high school and college. I would let assignments, projects, newspaper stories, etc. pile up while I went over them in my head. Then, when the panic of the final for-real deadline hit, the adrenaline – and the fact that I was 19 years old and, sadly, probably at my physical peak – would give me enough energy and focus to get the thing done.
Now, I’m under deadlines all the time. There’s no adrenaline. Just dread of the deadline and the sinking feeling as it approaches. I still write and plan in my head, but it takes me longer to get the words and the work on paper. But in my head I’m the same 19 year old counting on my ability to pull out of the dive at the last minute.
I take this don’t-make-the-same-mistakes-as-I-did mindset into the classroom sometimes. It’s one reason why I am probably not as radical as some of the other progressive teachers I talk to sometimes. I tell myself, maybe if I had built some different habits in school I would be more effective than I am now. (Not that I’m saying I’m a total yutz, of course. Just looking in the direction of Getting Better.)
Then again, if I had a dime every time my mother has watched me try to give my daughter the same advice she gave me – with much the same rate of success – I would be paying other people to alphabetize my bookcases on a daily basis with plenty of cash on hand to spare. Some things ya gotta learn my doing, I suppose.