Toward an Understanding of Leisure

Recently I have found myself in a position to experience more leisure.  It is ironic – I have been busy about the work of spreading the “gospel” of leisure for the last five years (for a codified example, see the Circe website for the CD “Leisure – the Basis of Schooling” by yours truly) and now that I have more…well…frankly, I don’t know what to do with it.

I think this is the malaise of our generation.  We are not a people of leisure but work.  Not work in the best sense – that would be great.  But we are masters of busyness.  Joseph Pieper’s landmark writing Leisure: the Basis of Culture is revealing.  He says that we have mistaken “busyness for productivity”.  Ouch.  Yes, we have.  Yes, I have.

True productivity orders work…and thoughts…and actions.  It is the Sabbath rest that gives us an opportunity to contemplate the work that did last week and will do this week.  It is that time that the post-industrial West deems as superfluous, early in the morning, that should be setting the agenda for the day in order to accomplish something.  The last thing I want is another day of “busyness” that accomplishes nothing.  How about you?

2 Responses

  1. Thanks for you response, Steve. You are right on from my standpoint. There are so many aspects of a school that require leisure – from the classroom to (as you stated) the school’s visionary center.

    I have always tried to work and plan by the premise that “the faculty is the school” and that the I needed to cultivate a community of “friendly scholars” for my teachers. That takes leisure time, but pays big dividends in solving a multitude of problems later in and out of the classroom.

  2. Ahhhh, I did not understand the command to not covet my neighbors leisure till I read your post, James! But I will continue the pursuit of contentment that seems the bedfellow of true leisure.

    I would reply to your thoughts with both agreement and the observation that perhaps in the “school” realm we mistake the cultivation of leisure with planning. Often we only think about the immediate ideas before us, ie. what we have to teach tomorrow or in this unit, or etc.

    This is why Hick’s notion in Norms and Nobility is so powerful of a school within a school. Unless the teachers are in conversation, and that demands leisure, then they cannot reproduce such in the hearts of their students. Bring that up in the context of planning for next year and the harsh monetary realities will be cast right back in your lap. What, give teachers too much “prep” time and they get lazy. Its just not efficient. You can’t run a school that way and make budget. And they are right, but they are driving a nail into a school’s heart, if leisure is at its visionary center.

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