I’m at the end of holidays, so permit me to get a little whimsical. I don’t blog about my thoughts often, so don’t be shocked.
I’m sitting in my circa 1923 living/dining room admiring the work my family and I did this summer. It all started when we moved of the furniture into the sunroom and refinished the floors. That was the entire plan. But hey, the floors looked great and the walls were kind of…awful…by comparison. So we hired a professional painter who could deal with our crown moulding. Oh yes, I forgot to mention we also sold our dining room furniture. We replaced it last weekend and I assembled it last night. I’ll know I’m wealthy when I buy furniture I don’t have to assemble. Then there was the deck, and the family room, and the colour of the kitchen. You know what happened next.
Then I do a 180, and I see our magnificent back yard and garden. Wonderful. Really, an oasis I often use to decompress from a department meeting or something unpleasant from my Dean.
But here’s the point: it’s wonderful, but it is so small. I take great comfort in puttering around in my own small family environment. We plant, we transplant, we manicure, and we fertilize. We even talk to a few of the plants, and nearly every evening we do grand rounds in our little plastic shoes to visit with our perennials and veggies.
And similarly, I so often feel like I make such a small difference in my own professional environment. I build a course. I help move a program. I do my best to reach out to students. I slave over discussion boards and the kinds of things so many of my colleagues think don’t matter. I worry about the design of my courses. I get concerned about the quality of the experience my distance students are having compared to the students in front of me. I lose sleep the night before my student defends a thesis — every time. I fret over the last draft of a paper submitted for publication, and I die a little when I see a typo in the first paragraph — my fault, not theirs.
All of it is so small. And all of it is so wonderful. I regularly mention to anyone who will listen that I have the best job in the world. I get paid to chase ideas I think are significant, and share and argue about them with anyone who will listen.
Yes, it is small, but I don’t think it is insignificant. I admire the people who move, or try to move, nations — Mandela, Kennedy, Trudeau, Obama, Gandhi, Suzuki (go ahead, make your own list). But just as much, I admire the people who are moving big ideas — Rheingold, Couros, Wiley, Siemens, Downes, But here’s the point again: I’m proud to be a member of a legion of other people, a chorus of voices, who believe in moving nations and ideas, and who are willing to jump into the yoke to help move everything forward. I encounter so many positive people who care about making a difference. These same people create ideas, motivate change. These are the folks who blow me away, and I’m proud to be in their number. We’re comparatively small in stature but greater in number, and we small make a difference. Each of us contributes. We really do. And isn’t it a wonderful place to reside?
There’s change happening, and it’s finally happening because the numbers are shifting. We are becoming the majority. What will we do with that responsibility when we finally have it? Most groups drop the ball. Will we? I don’t think so. I know you.