If relaxation was valued in schools…




The pursuit of “busyness” is all-encompassing, it is everywhere and we are all perpetuating and complaining about it at the same time.

I am sitting in a beautiful fisherman’s cottage in a sleepy village on the coast of Vietnam. The rain has started to pour, simultaneously cooling the air and scuppering our plans for the next couple of hours and so… we are forced to relax.

Instead of piling into a taxi and heading into Hoi An, the beautiful and bustling nearby town to do all the things we think we are supposed to do on holiday – sightseeing, shopping, having cultural experiences, dragging our children and ourselves around making the most of being on holiday – we do nothing.

Or do we? What, exactly is nothing?

This is what “nothing” looks like at this exact moment:



My wife finds the time to read.


My Mum enjoys the relaxing act of sweeping sand off the verandah.


My children play and make up stories.


I write.

But, why do we only allow ourselves to relax into doing these things when the rain prevents us from going somewhere else? Because we have become conditioned into “busyness” – the cult of activity and the sense of guilt or fear-of-missing-out that characterizes the modern existence.

This is true in education too. We have allowed learning to be described as “activity” and we strive to keep students busy all day and every day. We have also allowed a fear of missing out to dictate what must be learned, and when, in order to make sure everything gets “covered”. The concept of relaxation, and so – inevitably – the ability to choose to do things that only relaxation really allows, is almost entirely absent from schools.

I wonder what would happen if a school set out – with true intent – to create a sense of relaxation, to replace “busyness” and fragmentation with long periods of time during which teachers and students could relax into simple, deep and meaningful pursuits, to value what happens in those circumstances rather than panicking about what is not happening…



Header image from http://www.boundless.org/~/media/Images/article/rel-13-good-busyness.ashx


  1. Chad

    This is so so so true Sam. It’s funny you know….. I have been meaning to write a blog post for weeks now. There is so much to write and share and yet I keep saying, I’ll wait till the October break. There is something so wrong about that.No wonder we are all in a tail spin. We know the best ideas and the best things happen when we are not busy or forcing it. And we can’t break that cycle, until it rains or that holiday comes. All the good stuff gets bumped and we continue to spin without impact or depth. Your writing was spot on, the photos even better to highlight what happens when we’re bottle necked into having to be creative and fight through boredom. We soon realize all those things we actually enjoy doing come ushering back and remind us what our lives should be more like. On that not… I am going to park myself and get to that blog post I’ve been meaning to write. I’m going to make it rain inside.

  2. kellisherratt

    From what I hear from parents , there is a huge fear – not of missing out (FOMO) but of being “behind” (FOBB) when their children go back to their home country or the next school. There is this need from adults for kids to push and push ever forward and excel at everything by the time they are 11. Yet, we, as …well….us hope for independence, kindness, problem solving, conversation, imagination, creativity, spark, resilience etc Those things come through expanses of time to learn at their own pace, space to explore possibilities and theories about the world supported by mentors who really look and listen. RELAXING into the learning and RELAXING about the learning.

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