Leisure Education and Valuing Free Time
Now, more than ever, it's important that we learn to value leisure and free time. Everyone should learn to think consciously and constructively about leisure time given the fast-paced and demanding nature of our work lives today.
The goal of leisure education is to teach us to truly value and make the best use of our free time. Unfortunately, not all of our free time outside of official work hours is leisure time.
We also need time to satisfy our biological needs. And we need time to commute to and from work and perform our domestic and family duties. It also takes time to run errands, complete paperwork and other administrative tasks in life.
Outside the time that we dedicate to work and our other needs and obligations, the rest of our free time should be considered of special value. We need to learn how to make the best use of our leisure time.
What does leisure education consist of?
The goal of leisure education is to understand how to make the best use of our free time. The objective is to teach individuals to participate in activities that are fruitful and beneficial so they take full advantage of their free time.
According to Perez Serrano (1988): “Leisure education is a process of liberation that leads the person to be open-minded, free, and committed to the construction of their reality.”
The goal isn’t to make individuals seek out formal educational experiences in their free time. It’s to promote educational activities within their leisure time.
For example, the International Charter for Leisure Education (1993) explains how leisure education should involve subjects that are appropriate and relevant for the study of leisure.
Similarly, leisure education should promote the incorporation of leisure as a subject in all educational and cultural activities, both inside and outside the classroom.
Education that treats leisure as part of the development process
Thanks to technology and how easy it is to share information today, a large industry around leisure has been developed. We see an abundant number of advertisements regarding leisure and fun activities every day.
Yet, often, the basic purpose of such campaigns is to promote sales and consumption. They don’t really consider free time as a source of development or personal growth.
The goal of leisure education is precisely the opposite: people need to learn to value their free time. We need to consciously enjoy our free time because it’s important for our wellbeing.
In this sense, Westland (1987), cited by Mendo (2000), gives an explanation of how leisure education should be carried out:
- Why: It’s more important to “be engaged” than to “give the appearance of doing” something. “Creating” is more important than “consuming;” and “participating” is more important than “watching.”
- What: People need to learn what free time and leisure mean and include them as part of their lives.
- How: People achieve leisure education through concrete educational activities. It’s necessary to educate individuals so they understand the important role that free time plays in our personal development.
Leisure education: Free time and leisure activities
Leisure education involves certain criteria for planning activities and spending your free time.
First, this perspective teaches the importance of being critical given the many options available. We should learn to analyze and learn how to choose what really interests us and brings us some benefit.
Secondly, the activities we choose should make us feel genuinely happy. Free time should function as a reward and it should help us to achieve balance – especially given all the frustrations, inadequacies, and overwhelming things that we are subjected to in our everyday lives.
Apart from the option of extended leisure travel, there are a lot of other recreational possibilities available to us on a daily basis. There are diverse activities that have important educational components and that go a long way in promoting healthy social interaction and personal development.
Possibilities include local festivals and outdoor activities that bring us closer to nature, like camping or day trips. We can also go the movies, see a performance at a local theater, and pursue a wealth of other activities that are recreational and help us to learn new things and reduce stress.
Enjoying your free time in productive and enriching ways is directly related to taking care of your health. One of the primary goals of leisure education is helping individuals to maximize the benefits they get from their free time.
Everyone understands that relaxation and enjoyment are important, but we also learn new things if we make conscious use of our free time. We learn how to interact socially and to foment our creativity. Making good use of leisure time also helps to prevent risky behaviors in youth and adolescents.