Monday, November 17, 2014

Changing Things for the Better

A couple weeks ago, as I left my building to take my dog for a walk, a stranger came up to me and asked me if I knew where she could find a service station to help her with a flat tire. Since I don't know of any within walking distance, and I wasn't in any hurry, I helped her by changing her tire for her. We talked as I was helping her, and it turns out I wasn't the first person she'd asked, but I was the first person to help.

I know this is an odd way for me to start a post, since I usually write about really geeky stuff, but I found that it relates to how I approach a lot of problems in life. Recently I had to go through all of the training sessions I've done over the past year and fill out a form for each session. Rather than do it the boring way, I decided to write a script that will automatically fill it out for me, then share that with all the other trainers who need to accomplish the same task.

In both situations, I looked at the problem and the solution that was proposed, and felt like I could make things better. And I feel like that's been the motivation behind why I became an educator: because I honestly believe that I can make things better than they are right now. It's going to take time, work, and a good measure of frustration, but in the end it'll be worth it.

So I feel like I need to explain why. Why do I spend a lot of time (and trust me, it was a LOT of time) to create this big, complicated solution, when I could just do it the way everyone does it? I think it's the same reason I can't just be happy with a piece of technology as it comes in its package. I have this overwhelming urge to just get in there and explore how things are done, and to see if I can "hack" them to make them better.

My friend +Michelle Cordy put it best with her motto (which coincidentally is also her website): hack the classroom. Because it might be okay, it's the way things have always been done, but if we get in there and mess with things a bit, we might be able to make it a little better. At the worst, we'll end up knowing how things work, and why the way we're doing it is the most effective.