I just finished reading Austin Kleon‘s Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered. My interest in this book stems from the challenge I have in my own work – getting educators to understand the value of sharing their own and their students’ work. Most people reading this post are probably already sharing their work (and their students’) online, but if you’re not, or if you’re thinking about ways to make it more the norm in your school culture, I recommend this book.
The book is a very quick read that includes many ideas to provoke reflection and some memorable quotes to boot:
“I’m an artist, man,” said John Lennon. “Give me a tuba, and I’ll get you something out of it.”
I couldn’t help but share that one as I drew a connection to my previous post, What is school for? Some of Kleon’s ideas that directly relate to the current challenge of getting educators to understand the value of sharing:
“The best way to get started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others.”
“It sounds a little extreme, but in this day and age, if your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist. “
“To many artists, particularly those who grew up in the pre-digital era, this kind of openness and the potential vulnerability that goes along with sharing one’s process is a terrifying idea. “
“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. We’re all busy, but we all get 24 hours a day. People often ask me, “How do you find the time for all this?” And I answer, “I look for it.” You find time the same place you find spare change: in the nooks and crannies. You find it in the cracks between the big stuff—your commute, your lunch break, the few hours after your kids go to bed. You might have to miss an episode of your favorite TV show, you might have to miss an hour of sleep, but you can find the time if you look for it “
“Don’t think of your website as a self-promotion machine, think of it as a self-invention machine.”
“The problem with hoarding is you end up living off your reserves. Eventually, you’ll become stale. If you give away everything you have, you are left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish. . . . Somehow the more you give away, the more comes back to you.” —Paul Arden
“Stories are such a powerful driver of emotional value that their effect on any given object’s subjective value can actually be measured objectively.”
“My work speaks for itself,” but the truth is, our work doesn’t speak for itself.”
There are more snippets I could connect to the idea of educators sharing their work, but I suggest reading the book if you are as intrigued by the topic as I am. As of today, Sunday, June 29, the Pennsylvania Legislature and Governor are haggling over a state budget which is supposed to be passed by July 1. The support for education is a bit underwhelming to say the least (as it has been for the past 3 years). While I don’t like this, I can’t help but ask myself (and we educators) two questions:
- What responsibility should we as educators bear for the current lack of respect for education and educators?
- Would education and educators be more respected if telling our stories/sharing would become the norm of our profession?
In the book, Kleon shares this idea: “The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your work, and how people feel and what they understand about your work effects how they value it.” Does this hold true for education? Is our work undervalued because the public (including legislators and the governor) haven’t made an “emotional connection” to our work? And is this because we haven’t done the best job of sharing those stories of the amazing things we do and giving the opportunity for people to make that emotional connection? It’s a theory.