In Praise of Lazy


“There’s 104 days of summer vacation, 
‘Til school comes along just to end it.”
Phineas and Ferb

The problem with having a hard work/effort is good/growth mindset attitude all the time, is that it gets really tiring. By the end of July I am on my knees. Thankfully, as Phineas and Ferb told us, there are many days of summer vacation to look forward to (although perhaps 104 is pushing it a bit). The Portuguese are very good at taking summertime seriously. You have to be if it’s 30 or even 40 degrees for the whole of August. Luckily, when your country is one long coastline, you have the ideal location in which to cool down. I love the attitude to summer in Portugal. It is all about families, festas and food. You eat lunch, then you go to the beach. Or you have a late breakfast and take a picnic to the beach. Or you can even go to the beach and go out for dinner later on, if you’ve got the energy. The people party late into the night because that is when it cools down. Fireworks start at midnight or later. There are festas all the time, everywhere. No one thinks about school, and academic learning, because they are too busy remembering how to enjoy life.

I’ve read a couple of blogs about holidays recently. Nancy Gedge talks about the difficulties of the long summer break, and offers her thoughts on solutions here. Larry Cuban explains the situation in America here, where the traditional school year is 180 days. I just wonder sometimes whether the UK isn’t suffering from the symptoms of an over developed work ethic. We’re just not very good at being lazy. The year has a shape, punctuated not by school terms, but by ancient festivals that grew up around the seasons. Whatever religion you are (if any), there is no denying that the rhythm of the year is incredibly important to people. Christmas, New Year, Easter, Summer; over and over again. Without the holidays to break up the year, it’d be one long drudge. With the holidays, you come out refreshed and ready to face the world.

We should be wary of treading on the month of August (if you tried that in Portugal, you would have a riot on your hands). We should be wary of Governments taking more and more hours of our leisure time away, in the name of greater productivity. We should be wary about a push to focus more on work than on family, because family is what matters, in the end. Yes, it’s great to work hard, and do well, but that stuff isn’t everything. Sometimes lazy is just what is required. And I’m above expected standards at that.

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