Teaching and Learning in a Net-Centric World

On leisure and the academic lifestyle

Maybe I’m just a work-aholic, but I had trouble engaging in total relaxation over the holidays. I did manage to read a few novels, do some skiing, visiting with friends and relatives and even slept in for an extra hour most days  (not quite as easy a task for us old farts, as in younger days!!).  But I also made time to finish a book chapter, read my email daily, assigned a few article reviews and did just a bit of net surfing and blog reading. Sort of what I refer to as a “balanced holiday”.

However, some people – and I count my good wife Susan in this crowd, contend that I need to get away from it all on holidays and make sure that everything I do,  can’t possibly be construed as ‘work’. I guess that is one the benefits/challenges of an academic (and increasingly other professional) lifestyle- not being able to clearly separate work from pleasure – home from office.

In a related if more omminous context, I overheard the conversations of my daughter (now finishing her PhD) and a friend who is a research assistant at a major Canadian university. They were talking about the lifelstyle of the researching/faculty members who they work with. Each noted that the pressure to get grants, publish, teach, research, advice, and deliberate on committees didn’t leave  time for anything else – non essentials such as family, community, church or sports. They both were wondering if the sacrifices demanded from the “never enough” world of academia are made up for by the freedom of time and place shifting that most academics (and especially those of us who teach online) enjoy. I guess I’ve gotten used to the fact that I never have enough time to read everything I should read, or play with every Web 2.0 tool that I find interesting, or even visit f2f or online with friends and colleagues whose company I know I would enjoy and learn from. But I’m a practiced multi-tasker and capable of getting done what absolutely must get done – until holidays come!!  Then time and anxiety about its effective use grows…..

This month our University came out with a new early retirement incentive, but gosh, years of holidays seems like a long time! I guess then I will develop my next career (after I decide what it is). Oh well, I guess I’ll muse on  Thoreau’s comment below and keep in touch with my inner ant!

“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?“ – Henry David Thoreau

Hope you had a ‘relaxing’ holiday.

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  1. January 7, 2011    

    Hey, you could be like Tony Bates and learn to fly, then fly wherever you want all over the place… 🙂

    (I’m already eager to finish house payments so I can start taking flying lessons)

  2. Lynn Anderson Lynn Anderson
    January 7, 2011    

    Hi Terry,
    I enjoyed reading your personal thoughts. A few years ago, my husband and I realized that we were unable to have a vacation at home. There was always something that needed to be done around the house and as you pointed out, technology has brought work into our homes. We decided to buy a trailer, so that we could get away during the summer, even if just for occasional weekends. The family rule is “No video screens (no matter what size) allowed within Provincial Park Boundaries”, my Kindle being the exception. The rule has had the added benefit of encouraging my children to be more active and play imaginatively.

    We still don’t sleep in, but I like being woken by the sound of birds.


  3. January 8, 2011    

    I’ve been an academic for > 30 years. I often hear about how demanding it is to be an academic and how carefully we must balance our lives in order to meet all of our obligations. While I’ll admit there are some who really are as busy as they say they are, most aren’t. I’ve also been a part-time farmer for 25 years. Many of the full-time farmers I know work considerably harder – for far fewer rewards.

  4. Lindy McKeown Lindy McKeown
    January 8, 2011    

    Stephen Covey talks about the difference between being “busy” and being who we want to be. As I get older and people start dying on my friends list, I ask myself, am I spending the time with the people I want to spend my time with, doing the things I love to do not he things a busy life makes me feel I ought to be doing. Am I defined only by who I am as a worker?

    Will I look back with contentment and satisfaction or regret about my choices and Covey’s words ring in my ears. Thank you Mr Covey!! ..and I quote…
    “Sometimes people find themselves achieving victories that are empty–successes that have come at the expense of things that were far more valuable to them. If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster.”

    He goes on to say that so long as you have a feeling of contentment, fulfillment and excitement with your life, then just enjoy it guilt free. Certainly your contributions to the field are highly valued but no one wants them at a personal price to you and your family that is too high.

    So which will you regret more at the end, not having relaxed and enjoyed and savored your family holidays or not having read those emails and articles for 2 weeks?

  5. February 9, 2011    

    Good reminder and thoughts, Terry. Thanks for this. I’m another one of those weirdos who can’t always find the seams between work and life. I don’t really want to, truth be told.

    But like you, I am learning how to stop worrying about whether everything is done/explored to my satisfaction, and trying to make sure that I concentrate on the things that really matter…on both sides of the work/life ledger.

  6. cutiepink cutiepink
    May 24, 2011    

    It’s look like great idea and I love to do not the things a busy life makes me feel I ought to be doing…Thank you for sharing!!:D

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