The “Work smarter, not harder”, mantra is one that clogs up the pipes of education like a fatberg.
Everyone is saying it in relation to wellbeing, workload and work-life balance yet this is flawed.
The psychologist Richard Wiseman wrote on Twitter, “I keep seeing articles on enhancing student learning with tech etc. In my experience, you just need to focus on 3 words – work really hard.”
As Alain de Botton says, “There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.” (see his TED talk below)
He’s right. Nobel Prize winner Gertrude B Elion, inventor of immunosuppressant drugs, said
“Don’t be afraid of hard work. Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Don’t let others discourage you or tell you that you can’t do it.”
mantra “work smarter… not harder” is often paraded as some new-found wisdom yet according to it can be traced back to 1930’s and Allen F. Morgenstern, an industrial engineer. He created a work simplification programme designed to increase the ability of people to produce more with less effort. He proposed a new way of approaching tasks and suggested simplifying the way people work by doing things faster in a more efficient way while relieving stress.
In a fun adaptation of this, she says that Scrooge McDuck, the cartoon character created by Carl Banks, always told his three nephews, Hewey, Dewey, and Louis, “Work smarter than the smarties and tougher than the toughies.”
Bur working harder and smarter gets you to where you need to get and I really believe that you have to put the hours in. That mean’s unbalance and that’s not a bad thing.
We’ve been led to believe it unbalance is some sort of monster that will destroy us and something we must be embarrassed about if we don’t have it. Elizabeth Gilbert gets it spot-on when she says, “There is no shame in being mostly out of balance. That’s kind of what it is to be alive.”
Teaching is full of unbalance and that has to be expected and also accepted. Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg once said, ‘there’s no such thing as work-life balance. There’s work and there’s life, and there’s no balance’.
This is still true. I think it’s probably more realistic to say we have what William Vanderbloemen describes as “work-life rhythms.”
What do you do? Work really hard and listen to the voice of reason.