Delight 33: Invitations

I’m going to take a little time to brag. Contrary to popular belief, blogging is not dead. While for many in education, it’s not what it was 15 years ago, there are still a few of us who maintain a dedicated space to reflect and share. For me, this space is in its 18th year and after over 1200 posts, remains a place I can always go back to even if I don’t write as regularly as I used to. This series on delight, which I started 4 years ago is a great example of always being there. No pressure to write but is like a place always ready to welcome me whenever I return. Which kind of relates to the idea of an invitation.

It’s just nice to be asked. Whether it’s to go for dinner, coffee, a tee time, a work project or a speaking engagement, getting asked to do something or go somewhere brings me delight. I think particularly about invitations that are specific to me. They are an acknowledgement that someone needs me. Getting an email from someone asking me to speak reminds me I have something to offer and that my experience in education and ability to communicate has value. When a work colleague asks me to help them with a project, it reminds me I have specific skills that are valued. When my grandkids as if I can play with them reminds me that they enjoy spending time with me. When I get invited to play golf, it reminds me that I’m a good playing companion and someone enjoys my company. My first response to these requests is delight, a feeling of gratitude that someone is thinking of me and wants me to participate and engage with them. But beyond delight, I feel a sense of obligation to honour those invitations by being and bringing my best. I want the invitations to continue and repeat.

I think about teaching specifically and how much of teaching is about invitations. One of my favourite quotes is from Stephen Downes:

I think there is an important transfer of ownership in this quote that requires an invitation. Inviting kids to learn, to engage, is the art of teaching. Great teachers are continuously inviting students to learn. They don’t force them. Not all invitations are accepted, in fact in many cases the percentage might be quite low. Thinking about the delight I experience when I receive an invitation makes me wonder how we can create those kinds of invitations for students. How do we get kids to feel like they are important, and that we need them the participate? Maybe that’s impossible. But maybe we could be better at making kids feel like it matters to us.

Dan Meyer has been talking about inviting kids to learn his whole career. This video that Dan recently shared shows a teacher creating invitations for a less-than-engaged student to join. It’s hard to know if this student felt any delight with the invitation but it’s obvious while he’s not always accepted these invites, he does accept this one.

Invitations are wonderful to receive and probably more wonderful to hand out, especially when you didn’t expect the RSVP box to be checked “I accept”.