Here is a rough idea of what I am trying to engineer for myself and what I am hoping to spread to the people I work with.
- Passion Based Halos – Many people I know start off in jobs because they have elements that engage them in some way. Then, in many cases, the little things start getting in the way, eating up the focus that got them there in first place. Take me as an example, I am in a new position where I attend many meetings and write many carefully worded emails. There are lots of details and other fairly mundane things to manage and worry about. At my core, I do not like any of these things.
I got into this job because I find the place where technology, culture and formal education unintentionally meet to be completely fascinating. I realized I wasn’t focusing on that because my energy and time was being eaten by all sorts of evil. As a result, I refocused and made sure I was making time to read and think about this particular space. I then created a structure that required little additional work/time on my part but which holds me accountable. This gets my brain back into the right kind of cycle. It changes how I deal with the other issues in my job and keeps the good parts of my head from totally atrophying.
Not everyone is going to be really excited about such an obvious connection to their job but most people I know have things outside of work which they are interested in and would pursue no matter their career. Those passions and interests are powerful and should be moved into their jobs deliberately- something like Google’s 20% idea. I see it as drawing fun and interest into jobs, infusing them with the kind of energy and excitement that many jobs lack but with benefits that will range beyond the obvious job satisfaction elements. People who are doing things they are excited about do a much better job. People feel the excitement and respond in kind1. Good halos will help keep darkness at bay.
Engineered Serendipity (or luck favors those who are connected and interested aka Internet Karma) – I believe it is important to share your interests and the things you do with them in an open way. This leads to a number of good possibilities. Things will turn up at the right time. People will help solve your problems. It has happened to me many times.
I also believe you should make an effort to introduce degrees of randomness into your input streams. Don’t just follow people in your career path or with your beliefs. Make efforts to avoid the echo chamber and you will be rewarded. I believe it’s especially important for educators to pay attention to things that the masses of humanity enjoy and partake of without being forced.
- “Educational” – We have to keep in mind the context in which people put things that are considered educational. “Educational game” is not a compliment. Expectations for most things educational are very low. When people say they prefer X to Y in education, it’s often like saying they prefer warm dog food to cold dog food. The standard is very low and people don’t hope for much. That’s why comic sans, clip art and IWBs are often seen as steps up. I try to compare things in education to things in the real world. We need to set the bar higher. I try to ask myself if people would do this in a world where they had free choice.
1 most of the time