Time: the final frontier?

Space:the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.

So said William Shatner’s voice over introduction during each episode’s opening credits stating the Starship Enterprise’s purpose in the science fiction television series of Star Trek.

Yet in our world of education it’s not so much a matter of “space” being the final frontier as opposed to “time” – or should I say the lack of it.

It’s perhaps fitting here to quote Parkinson’s Law, – an adage first articulated by Cyril Northcote Parkinson as the first sentence of a humorous essay published in The Economist in 1955:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

I’ve been thinking about this a great deal in recent meetings with teachers who complain that their time is taken up with trivial and meaningless bureaucratic tasks.  Perhaps it’s time to step back from our practice and reflect – with some rigour – upon the way in which we conduct our business? Many of the tasks and jobs that we all have to complete have been layered – one on top of another – as one initiative goes and another one comes in – yet the associated practices which came into practice with each initiative remain. 

At a time when we are looking for efficiencies in every walk of life we need to challenge anything we do which does not add value to the central purpose of our job – in our case to improve the outcomes for children and young people. 

Here’s my poor attempt at  rephrasing Captain Kirk’s mission statement.  I’m sure others can come up with something better.  I’ll include the the best in my next article for the Times Educational Supplement:

Time: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Education. Its mission: to allow young people to explore new worlds, to seek out new ways of doing things; to boldly drop any practice which wastes our time.

I found an excellent resource entitled Bureaucracy Cutting Toolkit which might prove useful for those who are interested in cutting down on the burden of bureaucracy.