On the journey to why, purpose is the new bottom line.

Connecting with core messages from Simon Sinek and Seth Godin, Casey Gerald implores us to take our journeys to why and choose ourselves. In an inspiring Creative Mornings talk, Gerald explores that space which is not quite entrepreneurship and not quite social innovation…and forever moving the Doing Well sphere into the Doing Good sphere.

There’s no item on a balance sheet for “Give a damn.” But it’s the most valuable thing you’ve got in the business.

– Casey Gerald quoting Dave Schiff

How might we redesign school to be about the work of empowering learners to pursue such purpose as their bottom lines? A veritable army of creatives and learning designers are exploring just such a question at The Teachers Guild.

May these worlds collide and spark something amazing. You can find me at that very intersection.

HT Tina Roth Eisenberg, @SwissMiss

What narrative do we hope school-age students share about “school?” #WhatIfWeekly

Summer is the time of adventures, exploring what is out in the world that you really enjoy. Then you come back to the fall with a good basic foundation to start the school year ready for action. It is almost like the true beginning of the year is the summer because it is when you really start learning and preparing for the next year. – High School (Rising) Sophomore, from her blog

It’s an interesting narrative, isn’t it? Worthy of much reflection and inquiry. Is it the narrative we educators really want school students to have? That summer is the time of adventures – the seasonal time in our annual cycle to explore in the world that which “you really enjoy?”

What if school-age students perceived school to be the time of adventures and the time to explore that which we really enjoy? What if we reverse engineered from that desired outcome? What if we backwards designed from that narrative? What if the content, competencies, and motivations (HT @DrTonyWagner) that we know to constitute deeper, lifelong learning and citizenship formed the bedrock of formalized schooling? What if play, passion, and purpose (HT #2 to @DrTonyWagner) were more deliberately woven into the tapestry of what we call the academic year? What if summer were not the sole domain of adventure and exploring “the world that you really enjoy?”

What’s your school balance in terms of teaching subjects vs engaging purposes?

From “‘The Coolest Thing Ever’: How A Robotic Arm Changed 4 Lives,” Joe Palca, NPR, Morning Edition, November 28, 2013 [HT @tnsatlanta]

The three Rice students heard about Dee in an unusual freshman engineering class. Instead of learning engineering principles from a book, students form teams to come up with engineering solutions for real-world problems.

And remember what Sir Ken Robinson said in September 2013 at colab:

The basics are not subjects. The basics are purposes.

What’s your school balance in terms of teaching subjects vs engaging purposes?

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Previous Posts in this Balance Series:

Designing with, not just for, the public (good)

The basics are not subjects. They’re purposes.

Sir Ken Robinson, #colab13, 9/22/2013

And design — user-centered design — enables impact on our purposes. What’s more, in school, design (“design thinking”) can serve as a trunkline that integrates various arteries, connects the capillaries of disciplines and amplifies our capacities to get somewhere with action.

Especially when we view the public, not as hindrances or headaches, but as part of our design team. [Hat tip to @bigwags, Mike Wagner, for pointing me to George Aye’s TEDxDesMoines Talk.]

“An overlong list of ‘really important priorities'”

“An overlong list of ‘really important priorities'” (see quote below).

From my experience in schools, an overlong list of really important priorities names a major struggle for many school leadership teams. Not enough time and effort and concentration are spent on creating clarity and shared understanding of the school’s differentiating organizational capabilities. Too many leaders and too many teams allow the time and effort and concentration needed for such identity work to be crowded out by other things.

Perhaps it’s that overlong list of really important priorities that keeps us from focusing more purposefully on our own identity within a school. Maybe we should make that investigation of identity and purpose the #1 really important priority and recreate the list once we have that critical foundation built of knowing who we really are and what we intend to concentrate on as a learning community.

I have no intent or desire to corporatize education. However, I think that schools can learn a lot by studying other sectors, industries, and organizations that have undergone periods of monumental change and transformation, particularly corporations.

The article cited below has been a recent piece of that study for me. I hope you school leaders find it helpful, too.

Therefore, it is crucial to be clear about the capabilities your organization most needs to stand apart. Too often we see functional leaders and staff struggling because this is not well defined. Imagine trying to use the objective of being “innovative” as a criterion for the multitude of investments a company must make around product launches and R&D.

Unfortunately, when the company isn’t coherent — when its strengths are not linked explicitly to its strategic focus — most functions end up trying to keep up with an overlong list of “really important priorities.” This is an unwinnable proposition.

from “Rethinking the Function of Business Functions,” Harvard Business Review, by Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi  |  12:00 PM February 8, 2013