I like to read stuff from all sorts of perspectives written by all kinds of people. If they are “thinkers in their field” in any way, shape, or form, I will often cut them a wee bit of slack and try to hear what they have to say.
Not that I always agree, but listening to others weigh in helps me in many ways”think about what I really think” in my own life.
And often I see connections to school from what people “think” about life from outside the world of education.
To wit, Seth Godin just wrote a blog post which illustrates this point exceptionally well. (Here’s the link.) Essentially, his basic point is, when someone asks you what you are working on, you ought to be enthusiastic about your reply… or else you are, as he says, “wasting away”.
I am not sure I agree with the “wasting away” part because I truly LOVE what I do for a living but still, there are times where it’s a heck of a lot of blue-collar, roll up your shirt sleeves and execute, execute, execute type of work. (Nothing is ever all glamour and people who try to sell that idea to other people annoy me because persevering through the mundane – after all, God is in the details, right? – is a very under-appreciated quality of success, in my opinion) However, I do agree with the idea that the over-arching energy behind what “you are working on” ought to be fueled by enthusiasm, inspiration and passion.
And when I think about how so many kids go through school these days, I can’t help but be shocked by how absent these feelings are from their educational experience.
Top students, well, we often see how fervent they get when it comes to things like math-a-thon or science fair or moot court or debate club and so on. But if you slice away the top 10% of the highest achievers in any school and you took a measurement of “the enthusiasm for learning barometer”, I fear the ratings would be in the tank.
And who does well in anything that they do not find meaningful, personally relevant or authentically exciting.
Seth Godin is preaching to the business world in his blog post but I think the same thing can be said in education. The kids need to care (internal motivation; Daniel Pink has spoken to this a great deal) and the teachers need to feel enthusiastic and driven about their profession duties as well. (Which of course, can’t ever be legislated, much less measured… another post entirely.)
If you don’t care on the inside, eventually, it’s going to show in the work on the outside.