Sunday, April 20, 2014

Genius -v- Scenius

This blog post has been inspired by 3 events.  On Thursday I was meeting with our R&D PD 3.0 task force and Rory, one of the members, recommended a book by Austin Kleon called Show Your Work.  She asked if we could all have a copy of it.  On Friday Scot, another member of the task force, brought me a copy of it.  Often when I get a new book it will sit around for a while, but as it happened I had a hospital appointment on Saturday and I was looking for something I could take with me to dip into while I was sitting in various OPD waiting areas.  The book was small enough to fit into my handbag, so in it went.  Now it's fair to say that the book is a quick read, but on Saturday morning as I moved from chair to chair and doctor to doctor I managed to read the first 155 pages of the book.  The first section introduced me to the word "scenius" which I'd never heard of before, and which has now become the title of this post.  Finally today I got an email from an ex-colleague, who empathized with a post I'd written earlier this month about how important it is to be part of a supportive community.  She sent me the following quote:
Go where you are celebrated not tolerated. If they can't see the real value of you, it's time for a new start.
So, reading this, and thinking about what I've been reading over the past couple of days, the ideas for this blog post were born.

I read a lot of educational blog posts and the thing that I appreciate about the educators that I follow is the fact that they are honest about what they are working on, and they share their ideas and what they are learning.  It's through sharing that they gain an audience, and in turn this audience helps them through feedback.  I write a lot and don't find it a chore at all - actually I love spending my time sharing my ideas with others, and the end result is that now around the world I have built up a network of people who also share these passions.

Austin Kleon throws out this scenario:  Imagine if your next boss didn't have to read your resume because he already reads your blog.  In some ways it was a bit like that for me the last time I was looking for a job.  People did approach me because of my online presence and during the weeks when I was looking for a new job there was a social network of people who were familiar with me and with what I did who were able to help and inspire me to make a new start.   Much of this was via Twitter.

When I first started blogging I was part of a blog alliance set up by Kelly Tenkely.  This to me is a good example of a "scenius".  We were a group of people who were all new to blogging, all reading and commenting on each others' blogs, sometimes taking each others' ideas and developing them further.  As Kleon points out: "good work isn't created in a vacuum ... creativity is always in some sense, a collaboration, the result of a mind connected to other minds."  Very rarely is something created by the lone genius.

Another scenius that I am a part of is the #pypchat.  This Twitter chat happens every 2 weeks on Thursdays, and has grown so that now there are 3 chats in 3 different time zones.  Being a part of this scenius is all about contributing - sometimes time behind the scenes, but often ideas, conversations and connections during the chats themselves.  In fact, as Kleon points out, the Internet is basically a bunch of sceniuses where everyone has the opportunity to hang out, talk about the things they care about and where everyone has the opportunity to contribute something.  In our #pypchat scenius, all of us are there because we are lifelong learners and because we are happy to learn in the open so that other teachers around the world can learn from our failures and our successes.

Our R&D core team is also made up of a variety of different "sceniuses" all investigating different things.  As mentioned before I've been a member of several ASB R&D task forces (mobile devices, internships, PD) and it has been great to research and prototype new ideas that will impact the future of education.   ASB believes in sharing.  If you want to read more about the task forces and what they are working on, you can do this at our Findings blog.

Photo Credit: SalFalko via Compfight cc

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