Friday, January 24, 2014

putting the "pro" in procrastination

Procrastination:  To put off or defer until a later time

In calculus class our weeks are structured so that the beginning of the week is the presentation of new concepts, the middle of the week is the practicing of these new concepts, and the end of the week is the assessment.  The class is structured in this way for several reasons, but the result is that because we test or quiz on most Fridays, we rarely have weekend homework.

Calculus-free weekends have been a constant this year in the class, something I thought was really valuable for students.  This week was shortened, but we learned a lot of new material, and as a result, we are not quite ready for a Friday quiz or test.  I offered to make the online homework assignment due on Monday morning instead of Friday afternoon, as I had heard several students had a heavy load of work. I figured that most of them would decline, valuing their weekend.

I found the opposite was true.  As soon as I offered to extend their deadline today, many students simply stopped working.  Conversations with neighbors were suddenly about everything but math.  I really can't wait to ask them how they felt about their procrastination on Monday.  The teacher in me senses a really nice "teaching moment." 

I have to wonder how procrastination develops, as most everyone I know does it, adults and teenagers alike.  Is it part of our genetic code, built into our programming, or is it as much learned as calculus, learned like most of what we do in school? 

Other questions:  Does our "just in time" society contribute to the idea of procrastination?  Is it really just a matter of having too much to do?  Are there long-term negative consequences from procrastination?  Does it change our brain chemistry?

If you know anything about procrastination, you know you'd rather comment on this blog post than go back to whatever you "should" be doing, so go ahead and comment.

Do you procrastinate? 

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