Positively contribute to problem solving and planning
Create value in learning contexts
Evaluation: What does the last point mean, and how is it related to initiative? Is it talking about dredging something good out of any and every opportunity that presents itself? That is a very difficult thing to do; someone bent on creating value, and not simply doing the tasks before him, will often find that a multitude of learning contexts that vehemently resist the effort. There are many things in “learning contexts” that will not bear rational thought. Most of the time people simply do what is expected and shrug off the dissonance, but if a person is chiefly interested in creating meaning and value, a dilemma presents itself: to chisel something of value out of the unyielding ground of cliches and nonsense posing as rational thought, or to find something else of value to do with his time, and contribute as little energy as possible to such unpromising prospects. The latter solution is a much more efficient use of time and energy, but is lacking in its response to the demands of duty.
I am reminded of a friend who told me about his classmates in high school from the gifted program: most of them had simply despaired of finding value in much of what was presented, and resigned themselves to having to wait until school was over to go learn things. One of them would study ancient Greek in science class, and my friend, upon learning that his English teacher didn’t actually read their essays, instead simply skimming them for a complex usage of English, started making up meaningless sentences like “in this piece of exposition I intend to deconstruct the meaning inherent in the textual context of the nihilistic dialectic” an hour before class. The lesson here is: a commitment to always looking for value in every learning context should not be undertaken lightly, lest it lead to despair of finding them in any; such a task sometimes necessitates more tenacity, faith, and hope than it is worth in the end.
Reflection: Initiative is something I’m generally pretty good at – sometimes to a fault. This week I was working on compiling all of my best lesson plans, essays, and professional growth measurements from the past year, as well as anticipating those for the upcoming semester, into an InDesign book with consistent visuals and font treatment. I then exported it as a PDF file with bookmarks, section introductions, an internally linked table of contents, and embedded fonts and images. I’m a bit of a control freak, despite not yet being competent enough yet in designing documents to justify it (like the drop-cap I above; I’m sure that’s probably just tacky, but I went “cool! I can make a nested list next to a swash drop-cap; I’ll do that!”). Said file is currently 46 pages long and growing, and I haven’t the foggiest idea what I’m going to do with it. Of late I’ve also been independently researching schools, math stuff, the Scheme programming language, educational perspectives from thinkers I admire (Jacques Barzun is very good).
Goal: Direct my initiative in more positive, meaningful ways.