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Philosophical Meanderings

Phil Zimbardo’s Secret Power of Time and What It Means for Our Kids

Take a look at this RSA Animate video of Phil Zimbardo’s The Secret Power of Time.

As I watched this, I wondered what it would take for all of us to have a healthy balance of past, present, and future orientation so that we would all be able to learn from and appreciate our pasts, live fully in our presents, and be cognizant of and choose wisely based upon the goals we have for the future. Personally, I do not think that it is all that wise for most people to live predominantly in one of these categories and neglect the others. While it’s commonplace today for busy, future-oriented people (like me I’d add) to strive to live “in the present,” I think the real goal for people like me ought to be to live more in the present, and to find that elusive balance that enables us to be fully engaged right now while able and willing to reflect upon the past and eager to live in such a way to create a positive and healthy future for ourselves and others.

When Phil Zimbardo discusses the ways in which our children are now digitally rewired and fundamentally different than their parents in relation to time, and points out the ways in which traditional schooling is a disaster for so many kids – boys in particular – one wonders what the solution might be to raise a generation that is balanced in regards to time in today’s world. There are many ideas that lead to this balance for our children: time spent in nature where wonder may be cultivated; unstructured play time; and limited screen time to allow for a leisurely present that leads to joy and creativity in the early years of life that is later balanced with lessons in history (past oriented) and exploration of current conflicts and problems (in the present) that elicit creative ideas for system-changes and solutions (for a healthy future).

I believe it’s time to abandon any judgments about which orientation is “best,” as the early part of Phil Zimbardo’s talk reveals is happening in Italy, and to do away with the idea that our goal should be to “live in the present” or “wisely plan for the future” or “focus on learning from the past.” We need all of these aspects of ourselves together to lead lives that are joyful and wise, and we need to raise a generation that has the capacity to find the healthiest balance, too.

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of The Power and Promise of Humane Education and Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life

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About zoeweil

I'm the co-founder and President of the Institute for Humane Education (IHE). IHE works to create a world in which we all live humanely, sustainably, and peaceably. We do this by training people to be humane educators who teach about the pressing issues of our time and inspire people to work for change while making healthy, humane, and restorative choices in their daily lives. We also work to advance the field of humane education, and to provide tools and inspiration to people everywhere so that they can live examined, meaningful lives. I'm also a writer. So far I've written six books and several articles.

Discussion

5 thoughts on “Phil Zimbardo’s Secret Power of Time and What It Means for Our Kids

  1. balance is huge indeed. so easy to get off on an extreme.

    just got your book in the mail yesterday Zoe.. anxious to dig into it.

    Posted by monika hardy | January 19, 2011, 12:18 pm
  2. WOW! Zoe, I am so impressed by what I heard. Your vision is exactly what I have been thinking about. Our school is working toward creating a “School for the 21st Century” through a foundation grant. I can work on implementing your solutionaries into our sustainability strand. Thanks for the idea. I look forward to learning so much more. So many of us appreciate your time, talent, and passion.

    Posted by Carol Riley | January 19, 2011, 3:23 pm

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