Mindful Speed

It is that time in the semester where one week remains before finals.  There is a temptation to pack more information into the last week compared to previous weeks just to get material covered.  Students are feeling overwhelmed by finishing projects, papers, and by getting ready for finals; faculty feel the pressure too.  The element of motivation is critical for students and faculty amid the frenetic pace that can consume the academic culture this time of the year.  Will going faster result in students knowing more?  Intuitively, we know the answer even if we are motivated to provide as much information as possible to our students.  This is a good time to focus on our shared value of engaging students and on finding a renewed sense of motivation to complete the semester by giving our best effort.

As many of you know, Margaret Wheatley is one of my favorite leadership authors.  In a five-minute video where she discusses motivation, she says, “We need to develop new eyes through which to see our experience and we need to be much more engaged to learn from our experience and to develop those new eyes.”  She spoke about leadership teams that keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result by going faster; this doesn’t work well.  She said the missing element for increasing motivation is not speed, but people’s engagement.  Transferring this into the world of academia, we can understand that the depth of our motivation is found in the positive engagement we have with each other and our students.

Consider again the question in the first paragraph.  Based on our shared value of engaging students and on what Dr. Wheatley said, it may be best to “develop new eyes through which to see our experience.”  In essence, the amount of information conveyed is not as important as the depth to which we are able to engage the students with the information.

I wish you and your students well as we finish this semester.

Bonus: Reminder of what students say engages their learning.

Wheatley, M. (2013).  Co-creating possibilities.  Retrieved December 1, 2013, from http://www.letgoandlead.com/meg-wheatley/

Image (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2013 from: http://www.santabanta.com/sms/quotes/life/74/?page=6