Students don't need 24/7 care 2

April 6, 2007

Academics complain that they are too available, responding to e-mails and telephone calls any time, any day ("24/7 demand leaves staff besieged", March 23). The true problem is not managers who expect too much, but lecturers snapping to attention when the telephone rings.

As an ex-telephone engineer, may I pass on a secret that seems to escape most people? If the telephone rings, you don't have to answer it.

It is only conditioning that makes it imperative for most people to pick up every ringing telephone "in case it is something important". Few things are so important that they can't wait until tomorrow.

Stephen Donovan.
Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum
The Netherlands

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