Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Secret Powers of Time: Phillip Zimbardo

I was thoroughly impressed by this 10 minute video. I think it speaks to our different perspective of time in a profoundly thought provoking way.

If you didn't think the factory model of schooling was in need of change, this video might be enough to seriously question the status quo of traditional education - it also equally challenges the idea that education reform simply needs to return to the basics.


  1. Interesting...I've long found that gamers seem better able to see the flaws of the traditional education system, but I've always attributed that to them being more used to control - control over when they do something, how they do it, driving their own exploration and learning. And once you've had experience in a system that gives you control and ownership, it's hard to go back to a system that forces you through often meaningless busy work.

    I'm not sure I agree that gaming has caused a difference in time perspective - I guess it would depend on the games one plays. For the many kids who just play games like Modern Warfare and Call of Duty all day, those games usually have you living from kill to kill (is the time perspective caused by the game though, or are these games sought out because of the time perspective they promote?). There are other games, such as many role-playing games and strategy games, that require thinking more about the future. Sure, you could steal from this guy now, but then he won't like you and will probably be unwilling to help you in the future. Or sure, you could build a massive army of units and send them all in to attack your enemy, but if you don't also focus on long-term defense, you'll be in trouble if the attack fails. I get a sense that this researcher is another non-gamer trying to make generalizations about gamers, based on limited evidence and extremely limited experience.

    While I think the idea of time perspectives is interesting, I feel like he also paints too simplistic a picture. I don't think people and cultures fit neatly into categories. It's hard for me to get along with people that just live from moment to moment, seemingly with 20 second attention spans, and never think about the long-term. Equally, it's hard to enjoy life with someone who can't take time to just play, eat, drink, even sleep, and really enjoy those activities. There's a balance to be struck.

    For a more general example, I think cultures definitely lean in a certain direction, but the individuals who are most aware of their values can most easily reach a happy balance. On the other hand, those who live simply for pleasure or from externally-imposed values (like constantly striving for "success"), are blinded by their extremist time perspective. Well, that's my perspective anyway, growing up in an international school.

  2. Imho Phillip Z is limiting his vision and understanding of ' Time' by describing in a simpistic way the dichotomy , either you live in the moment as a hedonist or you are future orientated ,out there to meet goals. There is no reason why people can't be intrinsically motivated and live in the present while still having and planning their long term goals.

    People who are intrinsically motivated and self determined enjoy the present because they are able to express their personalities and beliefs and find what they are doing worth while and meaningful. The hedonist and the future orientated man described by P.Z are both driven by extrinsic motivation and fail to live meaningful lives in the present. when we are creative , we move beyond the ' self' and beyond time.

  3. I don't really know how to go into detail with all this, but usually when you bring Gamers into the mix of things like this, it rakes up arguements of "They waste their life on fictional worlds!" and other arguements that Gamers simply waste their lives playing videogames and should learn to pay attention in school. Maybe it is different than school but how can you prove it's not bad for you?


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