Purpose-Based Learning

As you know from my last post, life purpose is on my mind.  This week, I have a meeting related to life purpose + education, so I thought I would dig deeper.


In education, we have all types of learning:
  • Discovery Learning
  • Project-Based Learning (or PBL)
  • Problem-Based Learning
  • Experiential Learning (aka: Experiential Education)
  • Active Learning
  • Hands-on Learning
Where is Purpose-Based Learning?  

What if learning, college majors, and degree programs where tied to a student's life purpose and core values?  What if we followed what Stanford 2025 recommends and students declared a mission, not a major?  What impact would learning with purpose have on a student's interest, motivation, goal completion, and ultimately, what would be the impact on the world? 

Would learning be more meaningful?  Would life be more meaningful?  Would we have more fulfilled and joyful humans?


I'd love to know your thoughts on this: Purpose-Based Learning.  I'll give an example of what this new PBL might look like in my PS comments below.   Read on if this interests you.  It sure interests me.

Best,
Jen

PS - What would Purpose-Based Learning look like for me?  My current life purpose is to matchmake ideas with the right audiences.  If I was hoping to earn another college degree in this purpose, my program of study - to support my life purpose - might include the following courses related to:
  • Anthropology and sociology - to help me better understand people and their needs
  • Psychology - for the same reason
  • Communication - to grow my skills to relate to different audiences
  • Business - to learn how to market my ideas and manage my matchmaking endeavors
  • Accounting - to learn how to manage the financial side of my small business of matchmaking
  • Mindfulness - to help me manage the stress involved with learning something new and being courageous enough to actually live my life purpose
  • Web design and/or coding - in this century, I'm really going to need to embrace technology (website design, social media, blogs, etc.)
  • Graphic design - I like things to look pretty :)  Don't you?
  • Physical education - more stress relief
  • Other courses I might want to take to support my mission, not major:  Economics, Public Policy, and definitely more coaching classes from CTI
Ok, what are your thoughts on Purpose-Based Learning?  



Life Purpose & What's Your Verb?

I recently was on a conference call and the idea of life purpose came up in relation to education.  It is not often educational institutions, from my experience, think about a student's life purpose and how that purpose impacts learning, teaching, and student engagement on the whole.  When I hung up from the call, my life purpose was tickled.  I've come to realize from my coaching training, a person's life purpose is extremely important to living a fulfilled life.  Like core values, life purpose aligns your internal compass and provides a fantastic lens to live by, make decisions, and choose paths that enable you to move forward and courageously shake up the status quo.

Jen's music stand mantel

I realized in my thinking, life purpose can change.  Looking back, what might have been my life purpose in my 20s, isn't necessarily my life purpose today.  In my 20s, I would have guessed my life purpose had something to do with opening gates of possibility and opportunity as that was the role I felt was my calling & initially brought me to the classroom and becoming a teacher.  It probably had something to do with seeking exploration and adventure as a part of life, not wasting it.  If you remember my ski bum blog post here, you can imagine how many people thought I was wasting my life away in Aspen, not living to my fullest potential.  I also think my life purpose back then had something to do with finding value in the learning that comes from the spaces in between formal learning opportunities like those found in undergraduate and grad school.  In many ways, in my 20s, I was a salmon swimming upstream.  The choices I made and my life purpose weren't easy, but they were part of my DNA and drove my efforts and life choices.

Now, almost 20 years later, my life purpose has evolved.  I think I can narrow it down to one verb. My verb.  I am a matchmaker.  I matchmake.  My life purpose is no longer to swim upstream, open gates, seek adventure or celebrate the importance of informal learning.  Instead, it is for me to matchmake ideas with audiences who are capable of shaking up the status quo.  That is why I love giving keynote addresses so much.  I get to curate that best ideas (and themes) and convince audiences to dive deeper into those ideas (or themes) and shake up what they do.  Since my audiences tend to be educators - both preK-12 and higher education - it is vital they shake up what they do to further how they champion the growth of their students and their colleagues.

My verb, my life purpose, is matchmake.

What is your verb?  As Jennifer Ford Reedy explains in her keynote address here (fast-forward to minute 8:00), your verb is what you are good at, what you like, and what impact you want to make on the world.  Your verb is very much your life purpose - at this moment in time - in one little, tidy word.  It can be different from your word of the year.  For example, my 2014 word was Brave.  Brave was not something I was good at or even liked.  It was a goal word, not my life purpose.

Matchmake, right now is my life purpose.

What's your verb?  What's your life purpose?   Please share in the comments below, email me, embrace social media, anything.  I really want to know your verb and why.

I'm so curious,
Jen


Getting Stuff Done

I am often asked how I get so much stuff done.  I've got to tell you.  If you were to spend a normal day with me, you wouldn't be asking that question.  Super hero powers, for me, do not exist.  I hung up my cape a long time ago when Perfect passed away.  I'm just a girl with a mad to-do list and dreams.  Sure I get stuff done, but, there isn't a whole lot of magic involved. However, no surprise, I do have a few thoughts about this, which might help others get stuff done or GSD, too.

Pre-keynote coffee, preparation, and deep thoughts

My non-secrets to getting stuff done (by the way, the real queen of getting stuff done, Dr. I, will be guest blogging here soon.  She is a master of GSD):

GSD Non-secret #1:  Set a goal or a few of them.  Following the advice of entrepreneur and author, Tim Ferriss, before I get out of bed in the morning, I ask myself, "What is the one task or item that must be accomplished today?"  I then make sure that item or task is tackled first when my work day begins, which is usually after dropping off Miss O and trail running with Jedi.

GSD Non-secret #2:  Use a to-do list.  If an entire book can be dedicated to using checklists and lists in general, you need one in your life. I am totally digging the to-do list I shared here.  Go print one for yourself and use it for a few weeks.  Let me know what impact it has on your GSDing.

GSD Non-secret #3:  Honor your passions.  Part of why I GSD is that I like or love what I'm doing. What a difference it makes to work on something that resonates with you.  It doesn't feel like work, it feels like you are feeding your soul.  Remember this Dear Abby quote?  

GSD Non-secret #4:  Learn how to say no and yes - in that order.  When you are decent at GSDing, others want you to GSD with them.  Invites to do so can be overwhelming.  Knowing your passions (and core values) provides the compass and confidence you need to say no when a project or task doesn't align with what makes you tick.  The more I say no, the more I can say yes to the right projects and invitations.  

GSD Non-secret #5:  Counterbalance work + play.  Did you notice in non-secret #1, I make sure my must do task happens after I trail run with Jedi? I think most USAmericans have it all wrong. They do not allow enough time for play and joy.  This deficiency shows up in negative ways affecting their health, mental health, stress levels, fitness, and overall happiness. In the popular hackschooling TED Talk, 13-year old Logan LaPlante sums this up nicely, "We are taught to make a living, not make a life."

I'm all about making a life and getting stuff done.

Jen

PS - If you are confused about your passion(s) and core values either hire me to lead a workshop or deliver a keynote at your organization or hire life coach, Sue, for one-on-one coaching.  Life changes when you align with your passions and core values.  Remember this blog post?  Man, my world was rocked in the best way.


Curiosity Cards

I don't know if I shared it with you or not, but Sue is writing a book.  In case, you are new to Upcycled Education, Sue is my coach and also my friend, collaborator, and workshop co-facilitator. In fact, we are scheming what and where our next workshop will be.  We may even begin offering an online workshop related to coaching.  Sue is not only a dreamer like me, but she is a complete doer! Hence, Sue's newest offering - Curiosity Cards.

Curiosity Cards

Sue's book and passion are both related to curiosity.  I won't speak for Sue (you can check out her blog post here), but she's pretty set on the fact that if humans were more curious and asked more curious questions, we would naturally connect more.  That connection would lead to all sorts of awesomeness within our families, schools, communities, and workplaces.  To nurture asking curious questions, Sue developed Curiosity Cards ($9.95).  She sent me a pack to use.

Curiosity Cards example

I immediately had Miss O choose a card and read the question aloud.  We discussed the question for a couple of minutes.  Then, I chose a card and we discussed and each answered that question, too.  I liked the dialogue with Miss O, but to be honest, I wanted more.  Miss O was too concise that day and our conversation was short.  I knew I could get more juice out of the cards.


I decided to leave the cards on our kitchen table.  Miss O had friends over the next day.  I knew her friends - since they are big thinkers - would love the cards.  Sure enough, they saw them and asked what they were.  We immediately each chose a card and all took turns answering.  The dialogue was fantastic.  I had no idea where the questions would take us.  One question we answered was related to how we wanted to treat and relate to the earth.  Another question was about what we wanted to change in ourselves.  Oh man, that question was deep for these elementary-aged gals.  It led us to a discussion about fear.  These girls were talking about how fear keeps you from changing what you know you want to change within yourself.

What?  Self, change, fear, awareness!  Are you kidding me?  It was like a parent, coach, and educator's dream.  Youth talking about facing fear and recognizing how fear can impede moving forward in life.

Curiosity Cards - example question

I haven't used the Curiosity Cards with my college students, yet, but I will.   They are tiny enough to throw in my backpack and use them on the fly with students, colleagues, strangers, on a road trip, in a cafe, etc.  They would make a great gift for a parent, educator, or coach, too (plus, they are so affordable, too, at under $10).  I'm giving a keynote this month and I'm thinking it would be fun to giveaway a few packs to engaged audience members - you know, those audience members who nod their heads, laugh at your jokes, and beam a smile at you the entire time.

Sue, thank you for sending me the cards.   I dig them and know others will, too.

Here's to curiosity!

Jen


Best Rejection Letter Ever

Yes, I'm smiling.  Partly because I took this ski lift selfie a couple of weeks ago while Miss O skied adult-free with a pack of teenager friends & cousins.  But, more so because I received the best rejection letter ever.

Ski lift selfie Jen Lara

As you know, I am writing a book.  As much as I'd like to think it will be published anytime soon, it won't be.  Writing a book is hard work.  It's like a roller coaster of emotion and perseverance.  Having a sabbatical to research and write is totally awesome.  Not having a sabbatical to research and write and working full-time is messy.  Very, very messy.

Since I don't have time to research and write at the moment, I sent my book proposal, which includes one sample chapter, to an assortment of agents and publishing companies of different sizes to obtain initial feedback.  Most feedback I've received has been extremely short - like 2-3 sentences short - or the feedback has been so vague that it is unhelpful.

That all changed when I received the best rejection letter ever!  I'm not kidding.  This letter is frame worthy.  I could kiss this literary agent for his honest, laser-focused feedback. He didn't just say, your book sucks.  Instead, he asked curious questions about its content, styling, and examples.  He pointed out places where he felt short-changed and wanted more.  After reading his two-page, double-spaced letter (it was written in an email to me), I completely agreed with him!  I thought his questions and areas of concern were dead on, which I hadn't considered before.  Using his feedback will 100% grow my project.  Since I'm calling the book, Grow: 8 Skills to Champion the Growth of Others, I am grateful for the best rejection letter of my lifetime.  He grew me.

What's next?  When mid-May rolls around and I have time to focus on writing again, I plan to do a few things with the feedback he provided:

  1. Edit.  Oh, man, do I need to edit.  I'm trying to include too many concepts within a chapter. Less is going to be more.  I need to be pickier.
  2. Provide more examples and lessen the "what would you do?" questions.  He pointed out that people are coming to my book for "how to" champion the growth of others not coaching questions about "what does this look like in your environment?" (though I certainly can have a few of those coachy questions in the activities section I plan to provide).
  3. Be the expert.  Own it.  In my current drafts, I tend to not voice what I think is the solution, but instead rely on proven experts to make the case.  After 25 years of working with kids, teens and adults in amazing environments, it's time for me to speak up about what really has worked for me and connect those ideas to other experts and research when appropriate.
I'm certain there is even more I will glean from his rejection letter.

Being rejected has never felt so good.

Jen

PS - In case you are thinking, who celebrates rejection letters?  Let me just say there have been a few rejections I've received lately that are not celebratory and I soon felt like a complete loser.  However, the sun rises the next day and the world keeps turning.  This quote keeps me company in the best way.

Resilience quote