If you want to check my professional side, use my LinkedIn profile.
For some it takes more than a lifetime; they enter and then leave this planet without ever being completely sure of what it was they wanted to do. Not me. The choice to become an educator was, maybe, not even a choice. It was, rather something that just came naturally.
Not that I am a believer in destiny, mind you. Sure we all have our strengths and weaknesses. It would be foolish to dispute that our genetic make-up is such that we’re a better fit for some careers than others. It would likewise be equally stupid to dismiss the effect that social background has on the people we eventually become. That said, in every waking minute we are faced with choices, some small and some significant. In the end, who we become is affected by all three “n’s”: nature, nurture and “Nah—I’ll make my own choices.”
I left home at age 16 to attend university, clueless but armed with one superpower: I was aware of just how little I knew. I did, however know one thing: my future would be in education. And so, here I am, almost four decades later, not quite pleased with all of the choices I made at that period of my life but somewhat satisfied in the knowledge that I got at least one thing right.
I often break things. I vividly recall the admonishment from by Grando MacCormack, back in Dublin around 1965, when he realized that I’d been trying too hard to figure out just how it worked. My hands-on approach had, it seems, left the device in somewhat of a state of disrepair. “You Banjaxed the clock!”
It was only later that the full realization of what I’d done sunk in. I hadn’t finished the task; hadn’t approached the task in the right way. I truly hadn’t a clue but from that point on was aware of it. That knowledge came, though, through a lifetime of learning; of both the physical world (through a formal study of physics and math) and of the world inhabited by people (through a long career in education as well as a lifetime love of reading history, psychology and all things social).
In order to make things better you must go deep to figure out the root causes, as I slowly realized. To do that you must adopt a disciplined problem solving approach, but one that is tempered by an appreciation of the “others” in your life. Subsequently, in my professional career I gained a reputation of being able to fix things: things like devices (fun), systems (a challenge) and relationships (life giving). But as my friend and mentor, Lloyd Gill, used to tell everyone, generally I have to break things a bit worse before I can fix them. That’s because you have to take the time to listen and learn; to figure out why each component exists before you can fix or improve it.
I still banjax things; and when I look around at this wonderful complex unpredictable world also know that compared to what’s out there I still haven’t a clue but at least I still know that.