Time to be a Better Educator

Google is one of those legendary companies that employs lots of smart people and then gives them plenty of support to use their creativity. Including their “20% rule“.

GOOGLE engineers are encouraged to take 20 percent of their time to work on something company-related that interests them personally. This means that if you have a great idea, you always have time to run with it.

It sounds obvious, but people work better when they’re involved in something they’re passionate about, and many cool technologies have their origins in 20 percent time, including Gmail, Google News and even the Google shuttle buses that bring people to work at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

That’s only the start of their ideas to get employees working together and generating new ideas. It sounds like a truly collaborative environment, the opposite of the isolation in which many teachers work.

While it’s certainly not possible to completely replicate the whole Google model in a school, I’ve always wondered what might happen if we offered teachers the same kind of flexibility with their time.

There would certainly be plenty of critics who would scream about wasting the taxpayer’s money.

And a plan like this wouldn’t make much sense to those who see education as an assembly line process, with passing the spring round of standardized tests as the primary goal.

I can see plenty of ideas in the Googleplex that we should be stealing.

However, if you believe that teaching is a creative process, the key missing element to improving our education system in this country is time.

google, time, creativity, teaching