Crystal ball

How much is your future connected to what you choose to do ‘for a living’?

Many of us are lucky enough to be learning/working in the field of education as it offers such great personal and professional opportunities – and, most importantly, one is able to maintain a sense of purpose by contributing to a larger community.

It is great being around young people. There is such a powerful ‘life-force’ that emanates from groups who have the world to explore and potential to be somewhere, in a future, as yet unknown. I occasionally wonder about the challenges of working in an environment where people are ill, old or somehow at the other end of their life-cycle. It must be challenging to stay positive. Teaching is not like this at all. Education, or, if you would prefer, ‘learning’, is a great future to dream.

My question, where do you see your future leading and what are the personal and professional crossroads that will have you standing, pondering long and hard, crystal ball cloudy? I know this is a very personal, as well as professional question to ask people to write about publicly. Feel free to dream or explore half-formed ideas.

For me personally, the issue is irrevocably bound up in what is best for my family. I have moved around the state many times and always saw this as positive but recognise, that I have no strong connections to a geographical place (at best, maybe I do to NSW rather than a town, city or locale). Asking our kids to leave their school, as their parents set sail for new adventures, jobs or even lives, is a big call – or is it? It has always concerned me that people living, tightly connected to one space, may be insular and limited. Of course, this is not necessarily the case.

As many of you know, my family will live in Viborg, Denmark while I work as an ‘inspektor’ at the local school for three months. This trip will be important for us, as a family, to work out how we fare in another country together, away from what is familiar. The experience will help us decide what next, or rather, where next.

Geography still plays a part in our worlds, as hyperconnected as our society, learning and the profession has become. This is (another?) indulgent paragraph, however, increasingly, the idea of being like this guy, appeals to my wandering heart; not so much a ‘tech nomad’ but an edutech member of  ‘a tribe’ that is both virtual, and real, and that often these are interchangeable as one travels from a space and relationships continue online. Some of you are already doing this, I note, as you travel the world to many conferences and professional learning spaces.

Working in a school, as they are currently envisaged, makes this a little difficult for most of us – but increasingly, opportunities are arising. It is exciting, that every community can now stay connected to those travelling, learning and sharing in our hyperconnected times. Maybe each school needs ‘travelling fellowships’, for parents, students and staff to do new kinds of learning to complement the traditional notions of ‘exchange’ that currently operate. Can anyone explore this idea further?

In short, to conclude: I hope my family can stay connected to senses of geographical place while having new experiences in new places around the globe. Professionally, opportunities to grow, change and develop outside of ‘the school’, whilst contributing to the evolution of that space, most excite me. The largest picture, how do I help in a  future where our community attitudes towards learning improve; what reforms can we make to our systems?

This is what truly interests.

Enough from me – have you some time to spend on the crystal ball?

Your thoughts?

Photo credit: Just.Luc



    • David Chapman

    • 14 years ago

    These are the issues that inspire me. Ever since I was a boy in the 70s, left reading encyclopedias as we had no tv, I have wanted to travel and explore. It helped that as my father pursued his education I was taken to live in the USA and then Canada before returning to complete High School back in NSW.

    The knowledge available on the internet continues to amaze me today. I have combined my continued interest and passion for travel with constant interactions online. In 1997 I was teaching social students to Year 8 students in Canada. It opened my students minds when I blindly emailed several schools in Russia and set up a series of emailed interviews between the students. This was unheard of in my school (and indeed district).

    I guess what I am trying to say that the pursuit of the global experience takes place physically during breaks and holidays – and in between can take place virtually. To have my Year 12 students get a better picture of eastern Canada when studying ‘The Shipping News’ I have them ‘drive’ around small towns via google earth’s street view.

    I have tried to pass on my passion to my own children (2 boys, 14, 12, and 1 girl, 9), which has ranged from taking them on a trip through South East Asia to simpler activities such as going to Sydney to explore China Town. To put things in perspective though – my oldest has lived in four countries so far – and all three are open about planning to live overseas when they are older.

    This does come at a cost however. We try to travel overseas at least once a year – always to somewhere new – but we are on teacher’s wages. This means that we have a 20 year old TV, my little Kia just clocked 280,000 km, and almost all our furniture is second hand. I do quite like our photo collection however.

    The future holds dreams of living and possibly working in Europe (still split on France/Germany), and a multitude of trips to be had.

    I will complete my meandering thoughts with a final anecdote:

    Last December I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship to visit Japan for 16 days with other teachers and students as part of an AFS program. On one of the mornings I was sitting on the Bullet Train talking to students from Malaysia, NZ, Australia, Phillipines and two from India. I listened as their (all girls) discussion turned to Twilight. They had all recently read the novels in their respective languages, but were quickly having a debate re Jacob/Edward. Although the cultural touchstone disturbed a little, I started asking them questions and it was shocking how similar these teenage girls were, and how much they had in common (mostly shopping, boys, mean parents etc).

    Most of the participants have stayed in tough via Facebook, and just last week I used this medium to ask questions of the Malaysian girl to help my class to further understand Islam.

    The world is Hot, Flat and Crowded – but it is also fascinating, exciting, and working with young people gives me optimism that the world can be made a better place through these connections.

    Yes I will live overseas again, yes I will travel again soon, yes I will continue to Navigate the Global with my own children as well as students. How could I not? It is life.

  1. Hi Darcy
    as you often do, you have struck a chord with me. I’ve always wanted to live and work overseas – I’ve travelled a lot, but for one reason or another, primarily due to caring/being around for parents when I was younger I never did so. Having kids, life changes via marriage, divorce, marriage and work has meant that the time has never been quite ‘right’. In many ways though, you (I) probably just need to decide the time is. Currently, I’m 2 tasks off finishing my Masters in elearning, have changed jobs in the last year from English head teacher (12 years) to Coordinator of Teaching and Learning (pushing the elearning, pedagogy etc on a whole school basis). Definitely at a bit of a crossroads – what directions to move in? This time of year, and especially around the Christmas holidays always leaves me thinking about new directions. At the back of my mind is further study, maybe a PhD? – something around Extension 2 English perhaps??? elearning/ pedagogical shifts and challenges in schools???
    My daughter has just started year 12, so no overseas right now. My husband (school principal) retires in a few years, so now I’m thinking that overseas would be ideal then – working towards that but not certain. David Chapman is right too – the world is hot, flat and crowded – and its great to be amongst it!

  2. As someone with two ‘deeply rooted’ homes – one in my native Slovenia and one in Australia (where have those 18 years gone so quickly …?) and considerably travelled, I would make travel just about compulsory. It is one of life greatest eye-openers, humblers, not without its risks and downsides of course, but mighty worth it. Go Darcy, go family and best wishes for it!

    Personally, and publicly, I want to get my teeth stuck into something that has been brewing, percolating in me and popping out occasionally, mostly in a fragmented, disjointed, less articulate, but never less passionate fashion over many years now.

    I am hoping to start a PhD project, not for the title but to see how deep can we go. I’d like to explore how co-creating authentic learning experiences, including assessment, yes, would impact students and teachers in different educational settings. But I am not just talk epistemological, edu-psych ‘how do we learn better’ angle that dominates, in my view quite counterproductively, much of ed chatter these days (you know, contructvist versus behaviourist versus learning styles versus Bloom … meh). That stuff is no doubt useful as a guide but not the ball game as authors and peddlers of particular ideas would have us believe.

    What I am REALLY interested in in is how such things affect how we see ourselves in the world, the ontological angle. In other words, what does that do to our being, becoming. How do these things trap kids and adults in roles they have to perform (For example, I tweeted the other day “Watching ‘elite school’ kids on train in their hats, ties, blazers, award pins … My look ‘nice’ but it traps them in certain ways of being). THAT is the stuff I want to look at.

    Of course, this is an enourmously wide and complex question so I will zero it down to ed-tech, even more as we go probably (Moodle, Web 2.0 anyone 😉 ?). How can digital tech help students, teachers and other actors in the educational system to recognise, assess, manage, ‘play’ and allay ‘performative fears’ that are framing and in many ways suffocating so much of the educational discourse these days with less important minutiae and removing (even replacing) us educators away from the educative and pastoral needs of kids we work with and .. our own as educators! So, let’s see if using digital tech can make a dent in individuals and communities ‘freer’.

    She won’t be the old ‘let’s get rid of all test and digital is all peachey and ‘death of education, dawn of learning – growing to be my favourite pet hate, vapid nonsense) yada yada yada … the discourse I myself no doubt and often contribute, inadvertently or not). Hence my statement at the start: ‘let’s see how far can we go …’ Because that sort of stuff, just like travel, pushes boundaries. Important ones, I hope.

    Scuse the drivell, none of your readers and commenters will probably read it (if you do, don’t steal my project idea, OK 😀 ?) but here it is off the cuff and raw, unedited.

    Thanks for asking, this was quite … cathartic to write 😀


    • David Ligon

    • 14 years ago

    Recently I received an email from the Director of Admissions at Harvard Graduate School of Education. I had been so busy lately with work and family that I had nearly forgotten that I never finished the Ed.L.D application I started a year ago. I would say that the present work one engages in definitely affects the future. I had this dream of going back to school to get my doctorate in educational leadership at HGSE but the realities of the present situation  make it unfeasible. I am in no position to quit my job and move my family across country to pursue this dream. I suppose I should write Maria Curcio back and let her know that I probably won’t be joining the cohort of 2012, as I had announced at one time in this comment:

    In looking back, the irony is that I would need to leave my post as an educational leader in my school district to pursue the dream of an educational leadership degree at Harvard. Maria mentioned to me about numerous off-campus and virtual events I could still participate in, which maybe I will consider. Here is where reality and virtuality collide.

  3. G’day Darcy!

    I wanted to update my prior comment with some recent developments. I have decided that overcoming the logistical hurdle to pursue my dream of an Ed.L.D. at HGSE not stop me after all. One day I intend to make it there one way or another–I’m committed to that dream of making the world a better place though my leadership efforts.

    In fact, just today I wrote folks over at the GoodWork Project to introduce myself, and lay the groundwork for a collegial relationship which could open doors. If I were honored by Dr. Gardner’s endorsement in my Ed.L.D. bid, it could actually happen for me.

    Thanks for hearing me out, and allowing me to turn around my prior self-doubt, into a renewed sense of self-confidence.

    -David Ligon ( @EdTechLeader)

  4. […] few months ago, Darcy left me thinking with a post asking about what we think our individual future holds.  It struck me that, having just submitted my PhD and starting an awesome job at QUT looks […]

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