There’s a great new TED Talk out today by Jason Fried (TEDxMidwest) called Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work. It’s a very insightful talk and it certainly applies to Academe, so watch it first and then read my thoughts below.

Here are a few questions that this stirred up in my mind, please share your thoughts …

1. If work doesn’t happen at work, does learning happen at school (in classrooms)?

2. If interruptions are the problem, does learning happen at home? (between family, friends, TV, video games, and the Internet, home is **full** of distractions)

3. What is the ideal time and space for learning? Does your answer depend on your age? On your generation?

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What a good post. This talk does give some food for thought for educators. The teachers are the managers of the classroom, and Fried has some good advice for managers. With that in mind, here are my attempts to answer your questions.

1) Learning does happen in the classroom, if there is less talking from the teacher. Fried’s advice to managers is to let your workers work, so perhaps teachers should let learners learn. Give your students a project at the beginning of class, and let them work alone or in small groups for the whole class period. I’ve been doing some of this for the past two years, and both the students and I like it.

2) Learning at home is really hard, especially for community college students. By the time you take care of the distractions at home, you have very little energy to give your all to your schoolwork.

3) I doubt there is a single answer to this question. Learning is unique to each person, and the learning space should suit the individual.

Tip number 3 — managers cancel your next meeting. Translation, educators cancel your next class… Not sure I like that idea. Perhaps if the students were self motivated to learn (do I hear SOCRAIT?)

@Chad I see the correspondence a bit differently.

worker –> student

manager –> teacher

office –> classroom

lecture –> meeting

So, I would interpret the advice “cancel your next meeting” to be equivalent to “forgo your next lecture.” For example, I don’t lecture on factoring common factors in Intermediate Algebra anymore. I just give a worksheet to the students and let them work in small groups. The students like it because they can go at their own pace. I like it because I can see the students work the problems.

@Chris I like that analogy of “Cancel Meeting” = “Cancel Lecture”