Technology has increased the rigor of professional development sessions tremendously, mainly because new tools exist that actually engage students and help them produce. Another reason is the field of education has experienced an influx of smart people who view learning in a much different way than teachers and administrators. Oftentimes it takes individuals with an outside perspective to improve a system.
Enter Tim Ferriss. Like Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey, and a handful of other writers today, Ferriss’s work has had a powerful impact on my life. His books introduced me to an effective diet, strength training, principles of investing, Stoic thought, journaling, morning routine, the downside of specialization, and many other ideas that’ve positively affected my life. I’ve adopted many of his methods in my work life, and since I’m a Curriculum and Tech Specialist in a school district, I apply these strategies within the public school system.
I’d like to share with teachers and principals six ways Tim Ferriss can improve the way you work, which will ultimately increase student learning.
- Ferriss’s blog. This is the perfect place to start for finding out more about Ferriss’s teachings. From posts such as ‘How to Think Like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos’ and ‘What My Morning Journal Looks Like’, the blog is the best place to get introduced to Ferriss and gain a sense of how he can help your day-to-day practice and life.
Ferriss’s books. There’s The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, and The 4-Hour Chef. You won’t literally learn how to work, train, and cook for only four hours a week by reading these books, but you’ll discover how making small, smart changes can produce dramatic improvements. In education, there’s a lot of wasted time–from what the students are made to do in class to how teachers use their prep time. Learning how to optimize every second of your day so you experience maximum results can produce students who think and create at high levels.
Ferriss’s podcasts. I was speaking to a well-known educational trainer recently who told me teachers don’t listen to podcasts because no one has the time. I’m not sure if she was right or not, but I do know Ferriss’s podcast is a true gift. He interviews high profile people and asks them the perfect questions. When driving to work and listening to his interviews, I can learn Maria Popova‘s thoughts on workflow, how to master money from Tony Robbins, lessons Ed Catmull has learned working at Pixar and Disney, Stoic wisdom from Ryan Holiday, and how Matt Mullenweg built WordPress. For the average person (i.e. me), getting the chance to talk to all of these people and glean their valuable expertise is impossible. Ferriss’s free podcast is a gift for those who are always in the pursuit of improving and learning from the best in their fields.
DonorsChoose.org. Ferriss is on the advisory board of DonorsChoose.org, and he’s written about his belief that poor education is the root cause of most of society’s problems–an idea with which I wholeheartedly agree. This post by Melinda Gates does a wonderful job explaining DonorsChoose, and the fact that Ferriss is a part of this organization means he’s very aware of what the field of education is lacking and what it desperately needs.
Adopt Ferriss’s constant pursuit of deconstructing excellence. Education is concerned with learning about the world and pursuing excellence in one’s life. Ferriss has made a career out of mastering many different subjects in the smallest amount of time possible, and he constantly shares this information with the world. I think students would benefit greatly if teachers emulated Ferriss’s lead through experimentation, sharing findings via various outlets (books, podcasts, blogs), and understanding that if you’re not continually learning, you’re continually forgetting.
Avoid additives–just make the way you work more effective. In education, schools and district are always implementing new programs. Oftentimes, these programs are added to already existing programs that haven’t yet been mastered by teachers. Implementations should not be additives; we shouldn’t keep adding curriculum and interventions just because we can. Instead, school administrators should examine what has already been implemented and either help make teachers better at those things or cut the programs altogether. If you’re saying ‘Amen’ to this, then Ferriss is your man.
Being a good teacher is difficult work. It takes constant vigilance and redefinition. The days of teaching the same thing over a 35-year-career are over. Like Ferriss, teachers must continually learn how to improve their craft, and the resources and inspiration Ferriss provides would benefit every educator who takes the time to read his books or listen to his podcasts.
If you’re interested, here are some items I’ve been turned on to by Ferriss that have improved my life:
- Slow-Carb Diet
- Five Minute Journal
- Ryan Holiday‘s blog and books
- Letters from a Stoic by Seneca
- A ton of good books
- The Choice-Minimal Lifestyle