21st Century, Inspiration, Play

There Is No Purpose Without Play

This great cartoon just arrived in my inbox from GapingVoid. Here is the text that accompanied the image.  It is worth reading through – and clicking through the links.  Really interesting stuff to help you answer the question, “Are you having fun yet?”

“Purpose” is a big deal in business these days. Finding and having a strong sense of purpose is an important part of having a strong company culture. The blogosphere is utterly awash with it.

My friend, Tony Hsieh of Zappos, really nailed this idea in his New York Times bestseller, “Delivering Happiness”. And another friend, Mark Earls, nailed this idea sooner than most of us with his whole “Purpose-Idea” thing.

With the Olympic GAMES upon us, I was thinking about the idea of “play” in the world of work… (What my favorite future-shocker, Pat Kane calls “The PlayEthic”)…. and how The Play Ethic is so necessary for said “purpose”.

In my experience, the big ideas come from play, not from pressure. Any half-decent artist, hacker, inventor or scientist will tell you the same.

Playing is how we learn to hack, how we learn to invent, how we teach ourselves to create.

How we teach ourselves to SURVIVE.

So as wonderful as the Olympic athletes are to watch, I think maybe it’s time to rethink The Games, not in terms of “achievement,” “excellence,” “competition,” “glory,” but a celebration of PLAY itself.

Just an idea.

-Hugh McLeod

 

It would seem Nike are on a similar train of thought.  Their non-Olympic, Olympic commercial, showcases “all the little leaguers, backyard champions, and living room gymnasts doing what they do for the love of sport with no expectations of being exalted on high and showered with accolades in the form of lucrative endorsements.” (KC Ifeanyi) They are playing. With guts and spirit and determination.  But ultimately, for the love of play.

 

So, how do we embrace this culture as educators at school? I think it has to be a conscious decision. We need to choose play.  We need to make sure we are looking for ways to learn through play – and this is not breaking news!  There will be achievement, excellent, competition and glory.  There will also be failure, mistakes, recalculations and second-tries. There will also be a whole lot of learning.

Millions of people watched Caine Monroy make his cardboard arcade.  We are nearing the one-year anniversary of the flash-mob surprise for the boy with a passion for play and a huge imagination.  In honor of this, everyone has the chance to participate in the Cardboard Box Challenge, culminating in the Global Day of Play.  I have signed up to join in and hope others in my school will want to play too.

I had an interesting conversation recently about “Global Day of _______” type events.  Does having a one-off event hold meaning for a school that is supposed to provide an integrated, student-led, inquiry-based curriculum?  Some would argue that days of fun that support a cause are good fun, a good idea and as teachers, we should be exposing kids to what is ‘out there’.  Totally agree.  But I think we need to go deeper.  If it is good enough for one day, why not all days?  If we are prepared to forgo “normal” school for a day of play, we must think it is important.  If it is important, why not include it every day?  I love the idea of a Global Day of Play.  I just hope it doesn’t start – or stop – there.  I plan on introducing the value of play from the get-go.  It is something I have been looking into and reading about all summer and something I feel passionate about incorporating into my classroom – on the Global Day and Every Day. A new daily question in  my classroom:

 

Are we having fun yet?

21st Century, Creativity, Inspiration

Intoxicated by Possibility!

 

 

I just saw this on Pinterest and it totally sums up how I feel right now in relation to education, where it’s at, and where it’s going. That might make me naive, it might mean I am delusional, or it just might be the start of something awesome.

I pick door number three. You?

Time and again, the phrase:

Make. School. Different.

comes to mind.

If we would all unite in doing that, in pushing ourselves to the edge, in being willing to risk failure in order to create something awesome, I know we could do just that.

In speaking about helping and serving others, the pastor at our church says, “Do for one that which you wish you could do for all.”  He says that often people will be overwhelmed by the tremendous need in our community, our world and will stop before they start because it just seems helpless. If you are a teacher, a parent, a student or just someone who cares about education,  do for one that which you wish you could do for all.  You don’t have to change the entire education system overnight, but we have to start somewhere.

Right now, think about one thing you could do to MAKE SCHOOL DIFFERENT.  Now, do it. Make your mark.  Make a dent. Just do it! What will it be? Share your one thing below to inspire others.

21st Century, Inspiration, Internet

Light Your Beacon!

I arrived home from what has arguably been one of the worst weeks at school (nothing to do with my gorgeous kids or my fabulous parents) to find a package on my doorstep.  I took the package and my dog and together we sat in the Boise sunshine and read our new book:  Freedom Is Blogging In Your Underwear by Hugh MacLeod.  It is brilliant.

First of all, superficially some might say, it is physically enticing (I am now imagining Hugh saying “Much like the author” – funny) but it is – an almost square hardcover, great dust jacket, not too many words on a page and a smattering of cartoons throughout.  It also is endorsed by Seth Godin.  What else could you want in a book?

Beyond aesthetics, the book is still brilliant.  It isn’t going to take you hours to read it (or even an hour, actually)  but it will be a book you come back to as you explore the idea of blogging and what it means to you.

I am new to Hugh’s work having followed his cartoons at Gaping Void for only a few months.  A quick search around the web has this book getting lukewarm reviews from some of his ‘biggest fans’ due to the brevity of his message and the punch that it doesn’t pack.

I however, love that some of the best points I picked up are in his cartoons.  He began as someone who doodled on the back of business cards and to have some of these business card-esque doodles interspersed throughout the book, really worked for me.  It also helped that they just seemed timely and almost like Hugh had planned for me to find them on that sunny Friday:

Perfection.

Here are the main things I got out of this book:

  • we all have the means to put ourselves “out there” without waiting for permission to do so
  • in doing just that, we should focus on what it is we want to say – knowing our BS can now be spotted with a few quick keystrokes
  • our ‘stuff’ should be good – whatever it is, make sure it is worth your own time making it
  • trying to separate your online and offline life is foolish – it is all “life” and the same rules apply: be productive, useful, kind and give back when you take what others share generously with you

 

The book concludes with a call to be a Beacon – a light to others, a navigational signal that guides you when you are lost.  One of MacLeod’s beacons is Austin Kleon (love!) and by the tone of voice and message and overall war-cry to action that resonates throughout the book, I would imagine Seth Godin is a beacon too (the endorsement from Seth on the back cover and the reference to him inside the book also helped with this conclusion).

It made me think about who my beacons were in my workplace or in my ‘circle’ of people – those people that make you want to be a better teacher, writer, story-teller, innovator and educator.  I also thought about my kids at school and the type of beacon I am to them.

As we head into our final full week of work before the Exhibition next Monday, I am reflecting on the last 7-8 weeks and the more I do, the more I realize how important it was to place beacons along the path for our kids in the form of people who helped us along the way.  Part of being a good teacher is knowing when to outsource and how to facilitate the involvement of other people. Without the enriching experiencing of having beacons along our journey, I know it would not have been as rewarding and meaningful of an experience as it was.  I know a lot of other people focus on the ‘freedom’ aspect of this book, but for me, the beacons really stood out (no pun intended) as being something worth taking note of.

Who are your beacons?

 

Who are you a beacon to?