Night Flight to Venus?
Resolutions. Oft-pondered, yet frequently tossed aside like a bride’s nightie a few months in as new information is processed and new priorities emerge.

SpaceRace is a very small business. We like it that way, because being small lets us concentrate on the things we’re good at (creative strategy-making, web development, hare-brained ideation) and avoid the things we stink at (babysitting, delegation, accounting). Taking stock of our business goals has never involved seeking ways to get bigger. We have a strong stable of collaborators whom we respect and trust, and a manageable client base whom we feel we can truly serve with the rocket power we possess. Our utmost goal is to be happy, and for that we have to love what we do. Every year our resolution is to love it just a little bit more, and we do that by looking ahead to what’s possible and pointing our rocket belts in that direction (see image at left).

But just because we’re ok with our size doesn’t mean we don’t have active learning goals. And the dawn of a brand spankin’ new year is a great time to take stock of what we’ve learned and what we really want to learn and experience next.

For me, that’s a giant 365 day slow-cooker of skills, books, events, discussions, and socks.  It’s the SpaceRace HOT LIST for 2013, and this week (January 2 – 6) is dedicated to telling you all about it:

A book:

Daniel Pink’s To Sell is Human
He’s one of my favourite authors because, for the love of Pete, he makes so much sense! With an emerging focus and interest in advocacy work, I am eager to hone and spit shine my techniques of persuasion. He’s also been particularly clever about pre-marketing this much-awaited new title – inviting pre-ordering folks a chance to participate in a New Year’s Day webinar (it rocked), providing cool workbook templates, offering signed bookplates, and putting out a lot of other really great content to support the book. These “First Mover” opportunities have helped build value in the ideas of the book, generated excitement, and created a tribe of pre-selling Pink fans. Book marketers, take note.
Here’s a particularly clever review from NPR.

A skill:

I defer to the talented SpaceRace Jimmy in most matters of design and image manipulation. Although I’m often the critical eye – because I know what I like and what I like is usually good (usually), I am too easily frustrated to develop a solid skill foundation in Photoshop. It pains me to no end, as I was the kid who cut out heads and photocopied them on to other people’s bodies, and I did it often and well. Yet any attempt I’m made to become proficient at PS has resulted in tears of agony and childish fist-banging. In 2013, that’s going to change. How do I know? Not even 2 weeks ago a friend asked me to paste their colleague’s head on to Astroboy’s body. And I did it. The time is now.

An event:

It’s really hard to nail down the event I’m most looking forward to in 2013. I’m headed for SXSWEdu in March, based on last year’s experience being completely positive. And fun. And game-changing. And I love Austin. This year I’ve extended my badge so I can also take in Interactive and Film.
I avidly follow EdSurge, and look to their event listings as a premium guide to all worthy ed-tech happenings around the globe. Beware – it’s guaranteed to give you a severe case of FOMO.
But the events I’m looking forward to the most are the ones I’m hoping to launch in my own backyard: a Creative Mornings inspired motivation series for early risers in my awesome mountain town, and a series of Ignite-style province-wide events to bridge the communication barriers between schools and parent communities.


These ones.

A Discussion:

I registered for Alec Couros’s EdTech MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) partly because I wanted a first-hand MOOC experience, but also because I was excited about the topics that will be discussed with a promising cohort of interesting people outside of my current circles. #ETMOOC will cover and converse about social/participatory media, blended/online learning environments, digital literacies, open education, digital citizenship/identity, copyright/copyleft, and multimedia in education. Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it? There’s time to register, if you act quickly.

And in the interest of the ultimate resolution – BALANCE – it’s time to grab the kettlebell (thanks Kasie!) and head upstairs for some Soviet-inspired exercise. (and get better sleep)
More of the 2013 Hot List tomorrow. What’s on yours?

Steve Steigman: Blown Away

It’s a beautiful thing when ideas converge. When connections are made. It makes us believe that we are smart, and that our connective neural pathways are functioning as they should.  Classroom teachers have long known this – that connecting ideas promotes learning. Chemistry relates to biology. Shakespeare relates to Atwood relates to Chomsky. Those connective understandings create a holistic internal management of content, but also link issues and concepts that become meaningful when we can relate them to prior learning or lived experience.
Anyway, one of the SpaceRace reading list choices has hit me like a ton of bricks (but in a good way…maybe chocolate bricks?).  I’ve just finished Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, which was an experience a bit like being the person in the old Maxell print ads. Every section inspired an emotional reaction. Drive made me confront my past employment choices/situations, make amends, and commit to moving forward to contributing to the world.  Pink examines traditional theories of motivation and brilliantly contrasts them with groundbreaking research and analysis in psychology and behavioural economics.  Much of this groundbreaking research, it turns out, isn’t new.  It’s just that now, the conditions are ripe for examining a new way of thinking about work.  Institutions are crumbling. The “sure things” got fired. Organizations and managers encounter the retirement of the baby boomers, and the rise of GenY and the millennials.  Our hyper-connected, yet precarious world creates opportunities for collaboration, but also demands collaborators.  Artists. Creators.
Traditional work environments/employers have had a hard time dealing with the likes of collaborators, artists, and creators, who eschew carrots and sticks, incentive pay, algorithmic tasks, bureaucratic layers and shitty management in favour of more intrinsically rewarding activities.  The proof is in the science. Now business needs to catch up.

The solution?  Create work environments that promote Three Elements: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Reimagine “rewards”, from fair pay to time devoted to projects of passion. Encourage Type 1 behaviour, and intrinsic, deep satisfaction and fulfillment.
Here’s where it gets personal.  And what about schools?
The conditions are also ripe for examining a new way of thinking about education, and Pink’s Three Elements apply in an exceptionally convergent way to imagine schools and learning.
Don’t get me started. OK, I started.  I happen to know that my kid does approximately 5 photocopied worksheets a day.  Endless algorithms. Memorizing vocabulary. Silent reading.  She’s touched a computer twice since the school year started, which was almost 7 months ago.  Each week she has a spelling test, and scribes sentences she’s had to memorize. Sentences seemingly connected to…nothing.  Her progress is reported to me thrice yearly, through a letter grade and a selection of generic comments. The best worksheet she does, and the worst, are photocopied and sent home in a folder the teacher never writes in.  She doesn’t love school.  Yet she comes home and, with her buddies, turns our second floor into a library, complete with a check out, plot synopses, and clever marketing strategies.  She’s 7.
My kid, spending 7 hours a day at school, doesn’t fulfill her daily potential as a collaborator, artist, and creator.
I’ve been keeping a close watch on the research of the McArthur Foundation, and their research on digital learning and participatory culture.  The beautiful convergence with Daniel Pink’s Drive lives here – in the educational research that supports and complements the behavioural and psychological theories highlighted in the book.
From the MacArthur Foundation:

At its simplest, participatory learning refers to young people’s learning that: is intrinsically motivated because it is connected to their interests and passions; is inherently social in nature because it involves interacting, providing feedback, and sharing with others; and typically occurs during tangible, creative activities, that are open and discovery-based, involve tinkering and play and are not highly prescriptive.
Participatory learning is often facilitated by digital media because they significantly lower the barriers to production and distribution, invite social engagement and interaction, promote the possibility of contribution, and challenge traditional notions of authority and expertise.

Sound familiar?  Familiar enough to light a fire under your bum?  This is what’s keeping me up at night, long past the thoroughly enjoyable hours I spent tucked up with Drive.  And Linchpin, but more on that later.


The full report is ready for download. So are other local government action resources.