I was in Sydney, Australia recently and I kept seeing this commercial for HSBC Bank Australia about a Museum of Procrastination. Then, on the 16-hour flight back to the states, I must have seen it a dozen times while watching a couple of movies. First, this is a brilliant commercial. Second, I don’t think it is a bad idea for an actual museum. More on point for this blog, however, this commercial casts a wonderfully compelling vision for schools, places where people learn to dream and do something about those dreams.
As the tour guide explains, “this is where we put our good intentions that never fully materialize.” They visit a room of gym memberships that were only used once, another room with a stack of unfinished novels, a room with a tower of musical instruments that have only played Frere Jacques, and then a long hall with “millions of ideas, inventions, Eureka moments…some could revolutionize the way we live our lives.”
Of course, there is a massive body of research about procrastination and many perspectives on the topic. Some argue that procrastination does not really exist, it is just evidence that our commitments and values don’t align with our goals and obligations. Others suggest that it is a good force, that it can be used well. We can procrastinate on the things that are less important so that we devote more time to the things that are most important to us. Still others argue that it is due to a lack of discipline or failing to develop strong and positive habits. Then there are those who argue that procrastination is really all about prioritization or maybe even nurturing the trait of conscientiousness. The resources to study procrastination have grown to the point that we even have a bi-annual conference dedicated to the subject.
If look at the Latin roots, the word procrastination gives us a familiar definition. It is literally from the two words “defer” and “tomorrow.” It is about putting something off until tomorrow. On the flip side, the opposite of procrastination is to do, finish, carry out, or even to be proactive; and that is a grand vision for education.
Instead of making education about preparing for that which we will do tomorrow, what if it is more about doing today so that we can do even more tomorrow? What if our learning organizations were places where every day was largely consumed by learners doing things that matter for their lives, goals, current and future callings? What if each learner could clearly articulate how what they are doing supports their goals and callings? What if we made it our mission to nurture learners whose accomplishments will fill the antithesis of a Museum of Procrastination?