I am a champion procrastinator.
I have honed this talent to such a high level that before writing that opening sentence I checked my emails – twice – and watched several videos on You Tube, ranging from singing huskies to bizarre Swedish pop videos from the 1970s.
And I can’t even pretend that it was ‘research’.
After that, I made myself a cup of tea, checked my emails again, and then paused to shout a number of instructions to my children.
So the very fact that I have opened up a new document and started writing is such a great achievement that I feel like I deserve a break.
Of course, children can be the best procrastinators when it comes to mundane tasks such as getting ready for bed.
‘But I’ve just got to…(fill in with your own customised made up task that simply must be done by your child at that particular moment)’ is a familiar cry around the country at certain flash points in the day.
A particular popular excuse is having to go to the toilet. Of course, this is, if you pardon the expression, a child’s trump card, since no-one who has ever had to mop up a child’s homemade puddle wants to find themselves in the position when a child can retort ‘but I said I needed to go’.
Homework needs to be done, but often watching the latest piece of Disney cheese simply must be watched first – ‘but it’s nearly over, mum, honest.’
Or maybe they will declare that they are so hungry that making a poster about Ramadan and the importance of fasting is simply impossible without a biscuit (irony, of course, completely lost).
This is naturally all the usual nonsense that we threw at our parents when we were younger. Nothing really changes. But how do schools cope with children procrastinating?
Watching the compulsive TV show Educating Essex which shows the daily goings on at a secondary school is very revealing.
Procrastinating from the task at hand is a skill taken to a whole new level. Girls bitch about each other, fall out, make friends, send each other abusive texts. Boys punch walls, are rude to the teachers and pick fights with their ex-girlfriend’s new partner. All very distracting from the actual point of going to the school.
The teachers are remarkably patient, understanding and do their best for these sometimes wild children. It takes a lot of effort, but these distractions from the job of educating the children are dealt with very well.
On the other hand, one of the newest free schools in West London, the brain child of Toby Young, has recently sent a boy home, thus preventing him from getting on with the important job of learning.
The reason? He wasn’t looking at YouTube clips of kittens or checking his Facebook updates. He wasn’t even texting under the desk.
No, it was because his hair was considered too short.
How short hair is going to prevent this boy from learning I don’t know.
And it’s not like it is something that he can remedy over night.
This poor lad needs some proper training in task avoidance – I could teach him a thing or… oh look, a new email, I must just…