Don’t “Pace Yourself”

Don't Pace Yourself
Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

Sometimes even the most well meaning people can give us the worst advice. A few months ago, I wrote about one that drives me nuts. You can read about how I don’t “trust the process” right here. Today, I want to talk about another piece of bad advice: pacing yourself.

As I mentioned in my previous post, doing something consistently does not mean that you need to do it everyday. It’s the same with pacing yourself.

Picture, for instance, beginning something new, realizing you’re quite excited about it and then having someone else tell you, “No, just do a chapter today. Pace yourself.”

Bad advice!

The problem with bad advice is that it always sounds so careful and wise.

Well, yeah… I could get bored with this, you think. Perhaps I had better just read 50 pages a day. No sense in immersing myself in it today and getting bored tomorrow and abandoning it completely.

But have you noticed the disinclination self directed learning has to pacing itself?

Self directed learning – whether done by you or your children – follows its own rhythm. It is exciting, obsessive and not interested in external schedules. In fact, trying to get it to “pace itself” can hinder it more than help it.

Think about the last time you had a burning question – an online argument, for example. Or a conviction you couldn’t shake. Or a book you couldn’t put down. How much faster did you learn and how much did you retain from it?

I can almost guarantee you learned more in a day from your obsession than you would have had you done a little a day every day.

Here’s What To Do Instead

Work as much as possible with your natural inclinations and let the children do so as well.

Craft a curriculum that works with their individual personalities.

Let them be bored.

Realize that interest is cyclical and goes through waxing and waning cycles. If they’re obsessed with something and then lose interest, it might come back soon.

Don’t push for mastery too soon. To develop what we call grit, children need to try out a few different things and play at them before they’re ready to settle in and work hard at it.

Instead of forcing a top down philosophy of learning and education, try to trust your own organic sense of self direction and see if you can work with it. Don’t pace yourself. Go all out. Exhaust yourself. Then recover, refresh and come back.

That’s how the best learning occurs.

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Author: Purva Brown

Writer / blogger at - unapologetically blending two seeming opposites.

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