you say tomato; i’m gonna say pomodoro

Remember, you never know where you’re going to find wisdom.

I enjoy lurking on the LookJed Jewish Education listserv, commenting privately to some and posting announcements for my job. Here was one from yesterday that was, well, timely, referring to the hand-wringing about this half-Shabbos mess and whether we should

  • block cell signals in schools
  • ask students to put their phones in a basket before class
  • disallow kids to carry phones altogether
So here are Mordechai Rackover’s wise words on the topic:

I’m somewhat disappointed with the specter of less choice, no matter
what it is, being introduced into our communities. Granted that the
use of mobile devices is exceptionally disruptive for us as educators,
but should we give up on educating on any one issue I fear that we are
setting a poor precedent.

My Friends and Teachers,
There are other options. When I teach, informally, at a university, I
ask students to put their phones away. If, after a few attempts this
proves unhelpful in solving the problem we put a basket on the table
at the beginning of the shiur and people put their phones in it.

I can report that the students who are paid interns, as opposed to the
ones who are self-motivated learners, are more likely to be distracted
by their phones. (So that says something to extrinsic motivation.)

I understand that in a Beit Midrash context the issue is compounded.
When I was in yeshiva chavrutot were highly motivated to making their
experiences richer. Is there no way to get bachurim and bachurot one
each others case? So that they’ll police themselves?

In high schools I think that there should be a phone basket at the
front door, an honor code, and severe repercussions for students who
violate the code. In this way there is choice.

By blocking the signals of phones you are effectively telling students
that they can’t be trusted to do the right thing. You are also taking
a step towards censorship that is really one of the most powerfully
negative forces in any educational environment.

As educators we have to cope with this not as a trend but as a
reality. With that in mind what strategies are we adopting to
encourage concentration, in the meta-sense, on the present? The image
of the Gedolim in Europe with their feet in buckets of ice-water and
their fingers holding a candle is just not an appropriate aspiration
anymore. What then is the goal? How much can we expect of our students
when we discuss hatmadah? How can we stretch the 15 minutes between
checking messages to 20 and then 30 to one hour? Teaching about
unattainable goals is not helpful, just as taking away choice isn’t.

When I was learning Rav Brovender, in his tongue and cheek way of
telling the truth, once told me that I need “to get up every 25
minutes to take a walk, have a cup of coffee, and a drink a diet coke”
and then go back to learning. Now that I’m 15 years removed I’ve
discovered that other people think the same way – –

My interest was piqued in this topic by ISHI’s perpetual chasing his white rabbit tail, looking for clocks.

We He have has multiple clocks, watches set up around his stations–his desk, his nightstand, his bureau. They are all, according to him, to wake him up at various times over Shabbos, for morning, after naps, to remind him to get going to shul, etc. And of course, there’s also the alarms set for sefirat ha’omer times between Pesach and Shavuot that seem to linger ‘way into the summer.

I can’t complain. I don’t need to have such alarms. I have enough built-in anxiety to wake me up, if I’m ever lucky enough to sleep to begin with.

So, if you and/or your loved one have a problem with timeliness, I would highly recommend checking out that pomodoro technique. It’s similar to brain theory that I learned over 10 years ago.

That’s why it takes me so long to finish one of these blentries.

They are my breaks.

Here’s a Mad Lib that came through my spam box that was enjoyably oddly related:

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