In perusing Plurk this morning, I came upon this link Kill Busywork from one of my plurk buddies. I linked to it and found that it was a guest post by Michael Bungay Stanier of Box of Crayons.
His premise is that there are 3 types of work—bad work, good work, and great work. Bad Work is that stuff you do because you have to, yet it never seems to end or come to a satisfying conclusion like meetings and paperwork. Good Work is that which we do a lot of the time—create something, make others want it, etc. But what is Great Work? Great Work is that iconic idea/activity/ process that you feel sure you were placed on the earth to create. It is the thing that made you say—THIS is the job I want!
Great Work requires us to take risks and make leaps of faith. For me, this is the barrier to doing Great Work all the time. I am a risk taker in some ways, but it is hard to be a risk take and a lifelong learner when you have people moan and groan that you haven't graded their assignments the day they are turned it! It is too easy for me to get stuck in the "have to grade" mode instead of the creating awesome lessons that will really impact my students mode. Unfortunately, I think this often happens because our academic world is too focused on the grades and not on the learning. My online students are much more concerned with their grades and "feedback"—did they do the assignment right, rather than what they learned by doing the assignment. This also holds true for my face to face students, but I see some of my on campus students reaching that level of understanding about what learning and teaching really means.
I want to find ways to encourage more good and great work from myself and my students and figure out a way to minimize the bad work as much as possible. We need to get our current and future teachers thinking about learning more than thinking about grading in order to create the next generation of wonderful educators.