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Monday, November 7, 2011

Down Time



Okay, bear with me—that seems like a ominous way to start a post :) 

A few months ago I read a book called OUTLIERS by Malcom Gladwell. It is all about what makes people successful. It’s thought provoking—even if it is a little dry (non-fiction isn't my thing).

There's an entire chapter about the differences between the Chinese children’s school year as opposed to the American children’s school year. A little random background: the Chinese work in rice paddies year round, while American farmers let their fields rest in winter.

The American school year is built around the agricultural idea that just like fields need time to lie fallow, so do minds. Educators believed that children’s minds need a break. The Chinese do not believe this. Work, work, work.

The Chinese have higher academic scores than American’s.

Gladwell's conclusion: Down time is bad for the mind.
 
I can see Gladwell’s point, but I just want to say:  I get my best ideas I am doing mindless things; cleaning, waiting in the car, mowing the lawn, showering. I need down time. My mind needs down time. I do my best work in my down time.

Take that.

-Angie

12 comments:

Meredith said...

Haha, I completely agree! My best ideas always come when I'm doing busy work or sitting on a plane or something like that. I think our minds definitely need down time!

Sara Bulla said...

Indeed. I think our minds still churn even when we put the lap top away. And like you said, when I clean the house, work on the budget, or organize the junk drawer, inspiration comes! Nice reminder!

E.R. King said...

The lack of downtime is due to a fear of failure and dishonoring parents (in China). I don't employ fear to increase productivity because it never ends well. What Malcolm doesn't share is that the suicide rates in China are some of the highest in the world. Down time equals happy youth! Take that!

Abby Fowers said...

Oh goodness. Down time is essential for me. I think time to meditate and contemplate is essential to be well centered and save my sanity. Nothing saves me more than a bit of quiet time after too much chaos.

Ruth Josse said...

I've got down time...down. Sometimes a bit too much. :) But I know my hubby would be dealing with a crazier than usual wife if I didn't get those moments to decompress.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I like downtime but I tend to feel guilty sometimes when I'm in the middle of it, like I should be doing something more productive. But then I remind myself that if good ideas come from that down time, it actually is productive after all. :)

Tara Tyler said...

down time is necessary! but we are not an agricultural society anymore. we dont need 3 months of down time. i'd like bigger breaks spread throughout the school year, says the mom/teacher =)

change is not easily accepted, its usually fought.

and what do their academic scores get them in china? they come here and enjoy our creativity =)

Jolene Perry said...

I'm SO with you.
I plot, plan, and come up with new stories while doing completely brainless tasks.

julie fedderson said...

I actually will do mindless tasks if I have to brainstorm. If you can entertain yourself while doing laundry, that's got to be an idea to run with.

Patricia Tilton said...

I learned something new today! I know the Chinese are very strict and focused on education, but I never realized kids weren't given the time to be kids. I wonder if imagination is encouraged? I know the arts and sports are encouraged. Everyone needs down time to feed the soul. But, so much structure for kids so young. -- Patricia

Peggy Eddleman said...

Oh my gosh. I so, so, so agree. Fabulous post!

Shallee said...

I am so with you! Even if downtime isn't the best for test scores, there's a lot more to life than that! Without downtime, creativity can't flourish, and without creativity, we wouldn't have practically anything we have in this world! I am all for a combination-- hard work when it's time to work, and downtime to reconnect to ourselves and the world around us.

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