If there was one idea that I would like to leave with my students it is to open themselves up to possibility. At the broadest level I would like to think that is the true point to education. You never know when what you know will come in handy. Knowledge is power, and is no longer the domain of the wealthy or even the wise. Fortunately for young people, the world and all its opportunity have never been more accessible.
Let me offer a really great example of what I mean. Last weekend I was at a beer tasting event and met a free-spirit named Tim. He’s a tattoo-clad brewer for a local bar as well as an easily conversational and likable guy. His right arm bore the hippie prerequisite Steal-Your-Face, branding him a fan of the Grateful Dead. But much more interesting and specific to him was another tattoo below it of a skeleton playing the bagpipes, so I had to ask.
He proceeded to take me through the story of how an everyday bloke like himself was afforded the opportunity to play his bagpipes onstage with Bob Weir. Even if you’ve never counted yourself a Deadhead, you have to admit that’s pretty cool. And it’s a learning experience for anyone interested in existing in the realm of possibility.
It starts with a generous offering of his microbrew to one of the band’s managers, followed by an invitation to the tour bus. It ends with, “Hey, why don’t you come to our next show and play your bagpipes onstage?” To which our affable aficionado replied, “Dude, what if I suck?”
He didn’t. And he now has a great story to tell, and an even better life experience from which to grow. My new job is not nearly as exciting, but simply would not be a reality if I, too, didn’t dwell in possibility. I just took a more academic approach.
About a year and a half ago I was finishing up a very traditional master’s of education to maintain my teaching license. I saw an ad for a new program in media design that seemed to have everything I really wanted. I made a very risky, $30,000 decision and, to make a long story short, will be on a plane next week to build a video game in Europe.
There is a wonderful book titled The Art of Possibility by an equally likable musician named Ben Zander, although his is the classical genre. I suggest everyone read it and open themselves up to this new world of opportunity and by all means teach your students to do the same.
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