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Growing old or growing up?

Sitting in board meetings gives one plenty of time to think – especially when the financial reports are being given. After two pretty much sleepless nights, I wasn’t tracking all that well Saturday and Sunday during the ISTE board meeting in Austin, even when the discussions got interesting. Somehow my sleep deprived brain drifted toward how my strategies for creating change have modified as I’ve gotten older.

I am, for good or ill, less likely to take issues head on. It doesn’t mean I’m not passionate about things, just that the passion has been tempered a bit by patience. I think I’m learning to:

Play the hand you’re dealt. It doesn’t pay to waste a lot of energy bemoaning one’s fate, dwelling on what one doesn’t have. It makes more sense to spend one’s time figuring out how to leverage the assets available. Yeah, we could always use more computers, more bandwidth, a better book budget, and more personnel, (along with more time, more intelligence). And we should work for these things. But until Santa comes, a heck of a lot of fun can be had and good can be done in meeting challenges with the resources on hand. If you wait for the perfect conditions, you’ll spend your life waiting.

Dance with the one what brung you. Some people will never “get it” no matter what the “it” might be: the importance of libraries, the power of technology, the need for kids to have 21st century skills, whatever. These people might be your principal, your teachers or your parents. Passions have to be discovered; they can’t be transferred. But we still need to be working with the folks we pull into the parking lot with each morning, despite the fact that they don’t share all the same concerns we do. Increasingly, I am finding satisfaction in helping other people achieve their own vision rather than convincing them of the righteousness of my own. Think about it. Do schools exist to support libraries and technology or do we create good library and technology programs to support schools? I hope you didn’t have to think too hard answering that question.

Steer the camel in the direction it's already going. Yeah, I dislike standardized testing. I think this grim obsession with basic skills is hurting our kids. Technology is being implemented without enough consideration to the impact it will have on kids or society. The direction society has taken on many issues over the last few years is not one I would choose were I King of the World. But rather than simply being obstreperous or living in denial, I may as well figure out how, if I can’t turn, at least nudge this camel in a direction that’s better for kids. It’s why I advocate including information/tech skills as an assessed part of NCLB. It’s why I stay involved in technology and library issues in schools. I can control almost nothing, but I can influence almost everything.

Love and balance.  One of our principals is fond of quoting John Wooden, former head coach of UCLA´s basketball team who says love and balance are the two most important words in the English language. Nobody’s going to deny the power of love, but we underestimate the power of balance. Balance doesn’t get headlines like the extremes do. And yet attention to negotiating, creating win-wins, developing understanding, endorsing moderation, creating shared ownership, and building consensus – keeping one’s values and honoring the values of others seems at the heart of both love and balance. I’m working on it.

So maybe my fire has burnt out. But remember, it’s easier to cook over the coals.

BTW, check out Guy Kawasaki’s definition of a mensch. Nicely put.

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Reader Comments (1)

"Passions have to be discovered; they can’t be transferred." I like this a lot. It is going into my "think about this" file.

I would add - never laugh at someone else's passion. We all got enough of that in high school.
February 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJacquie Henry

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