We’re reviewing our team expectations these days. In the process I suggested we imagine our dream jobs and see if we could thereby discover some aspirational expectations. It occurred to me then that I should take a stab at it myself. So here goes, some components of my dream job, by me. Maybe it’s a bit too much like the speech of a beauty pageant contestant, but it’s true, for all that.
My dream job would include me learning about learning. Understanding what it is. Understanding how to help people do it. Wondering how to capture the outcome of it. It’s the zeitgeist that we’re just figuring out what happens when you stop thinking of education as an information transmission device (i.e. a lecture, say), and you see what’s left. What people do with that information. How they learn, that is. It’s a great time to be alive if you like to think about this stuff.
2. Learning with People
Corollary to above: it seems learning works best when you learn with other people. I’m interested in understanding how we learn together and best and how we can boot strap a culture that reinforces people learning together. The dream job would need to let me watch people learn together. Or let me learn together with people who want to be reflective about the process.
3. Transformation of the Factory into the Learnery
Sir Ken Robinson has popularized the idea that education needs to stop being a factory. Amen to that. Well, so does work. I think we’re about to see the workplace transform from place where people produce widgets to place where people learn together. There’s about to be much less distinction between work and school. It’s time! My dream job would let me explore this change.
4. Creation of Stuff
Things don’t mean anything until you do something. So I can’t just learn about the above and have some thoughts in my head and leave it at that. I need to write, share, make. Articles, presentations, courses, teams, reports, golf courses, etc. That is crucial. So my dream job lets me do that. Requires me to do it, even.
5. Stuff Like Ethnographic Research
When I say create stuff, wouldn’t I love some of that stuff to be things that help the world know the world better. Like Ethnographic Research. I have recently had a couple of tastes of this applied locally (one described in a previous post) and I have loved it for its relevance (if the world is changing, it makes sense to stop doing arbitrary things and try to understand what’s going on around you), for its revelatory and humane nature (people get to tell their stories . . . and that’s humane . . . and there’s good stuff in there . . . the best stuff, really), and for the fact that it makes you happy to be alive (here I don’t know why this is, but I feel it’s true, ask an ethnographer). So perhaps my dream job lets me devise and apply qualitative instruments (a nice, open-minded job that would be, because they take a LOT of time to do right).
6. Inter-institutional Collaboration
Having been involved with groups like NERCOMP (www.nercomp.org) and ELI (www.educause.edu/eli) and NITLE (www.nitle.org) and the BLC (www.blc.org) teaches me that I love working with people in peer institutions. In fact I intuit groups that bring people together across schools will play a huge role moving forwards. Because nobody is going to make it as a tub on their own bottom. So my dream job encourages and requires me to do this stuff.
7. Working with the Other
I do find I like to be around people who think and act differently (better?) than I do. Because it makes me better. Nothing worse than to feel you’re coasting and mailing it in on any level, including the figuring-out-how-to-work-with-people-level, so crucial to everything. So my dream job forces me to cooperate with people who come at things differently. Of course, it’s nice if these people also like working with people who think and act differently than themselves . . .
8. Development of Skills
This is related to above. Should I include this one? Yeah, because nobody is perfect. If the above 7 things will force me to grow my intellects, or my epistemology, as it were, I still might need to grow some other stuff. Maturity, soft skills, facilitation facilities, self awareness, reflexes, communication something-or-other, willingness to apologize, emotional intelligence, writing an agenda, smiling more, expressing respectfulness, saying thank you, creating more sincere symbolic celebrations and ritual moments, etc. My dream job wouldn’t let me forget it.