Friday, May 13, 2016

#Rhizo16 / Oh Boy

So, we are going to jump into this with some kind of understanding of the idea of resilience. And while I am concerned about the topic and how little I might know and add to the conversation, I also know that I felt the same way last year. 

So, as I plunge into what is a prewriting for what is coming, I think there is something relevant to the idea of resilience and writing. Being in the field of writing -- this has been my area to jump into with rhizo thinking and learning, so I will start there. But first - my thoughts on juggling. 

I've presented a few times on risk taking to parents and shaping some goals and good habits around healthy risk taking with families before coming to college. One of the challenges that I throw out is juggling. Can you learn to juggle over the summer? During my first presentation, I showed them how I can juggle three objects and told them once they learn, it will never leave them. Like riding a bike, they might get rusty, but they will never forget what it feels like to juggle. Then I challenge them to come back and show me they can juggle in a few months. And I told them that I would like to take on juggle five. And since I threw down this challenge, I've not been very diligent. In fact, I haven't progressed very far with five at all. Why? Because I haven't been resilient. I haven't even really practiced enough to see success. I know I can probably do it. But I haven't put the time or the focus on this task to do it. Part of the struggle for me is not "if" I can do it, it is knowing that I have to put in more time that I really want to to make it happen. And what is worse, I feel like knowing the power of three is enough, but knowing the beauty and the hard work of five just doesn't seem worth it. Why? Part of me wants it very badly, and part of me doesn't because of the time. Is this a resilience issue? Have I grown too old to accept the work that I need to put in. Looking at the definition -- I feel like I do need to overcome something to make this happen - but I need to find out what that is. Maybe I just don't see the payoff. And that isn't me at all. And that is disturbing. 

Writers have this problem too. Write and write, reject, fail, not accepted in this, rejected from that. It becomes very hard to be resilient to failing when success is so rare. At least that is how it appears in my life, and the volume of writing that a writer creates to that of success is at significant odds with reality. What other worlds do people continue to fail and still hold a sense of resilience, a sense of methodology to their growth. Fail better, fail harder, fail more completely. If I can just juggle five, I will be okay. If I can write another novel, and sell it, I will be successful. How do I come back - I do we reform? How do you listen to someone explain the wrong in writing and come back to normal? It isn't about pity, it is about building. How do we reshape ourselves when we have lost, dropped the balls, and feel like we can't move forward? 

We don't stay the same, we evolve and change. The hope is that we grow. Perhaps resilience can also be measured in what we resolve to become when we fail again and again. Not because we are not trying, not because we are doing it the same way over and over, but because we must fail more before we can throw the third ball. We must read more rejection letters, we must hear how trite our writing is, we must take it all before we can carry the weight of our possibilities. For students, failure is merely a grade, a passing course, whatever goal they need to accomplish - but there is no rubric for life - for raising a family, for writing a novel, or juggling chainsaws. We know failure and resilience on our own specific terms. My rubric grows every day, new categories down the side, and more levels of completion across the top, emerging, struggling, attempting, developing - there are so many I can't see the edge of the paper anymore. 

Four weeks of Rhizo16 - five balls, juggling. Outcome: fail. Outlook: Superstar. 


  1. I would add "messier rubric" to your outcomes list ;-P