the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions
Inspiration is the fuel that gets me going. Full of inspiration, I am full of motivation, no should’s or must do’s required. Lacking inspiration and I lollygag around, making lame-o excuses for myself. In my attempt to become self-aware and model self-regulation for my students, I know inspiration to be a key ingredient in trying to answer the always elusive question: what motivates learners? When students are inspired no external regulation, nagging or rewards are needed. In fact the opposite becomes true; they become driven, focused and single-minded.
I take my role of inspiring kids, young adults, seriously. I hope they leave school inspired, deeply inspired. My contemplation and musings on inspiration are both personal and professional. The exact recipe for what inspires one person may be vastly different from what inspires another. As with our DNA, we share common sources of inspiration, but the exact recipe is specific to who we are, our backgrounds, our perspective, our stage in life.
“I used to think and now I know” is one of my most used phrases this year that I picked up from my Twitter friend Bo Adams and it works perfectly here.
I used to think that I needed to be inspired by something/someone external to me, now I know I can seek out and find inspiration for myself.
In contemplating inspiration 2 stems have become useful in my musings: 1) I am inspired when… and 2) I am inspired by…
The inspired when stem considers the conditions, the settings, the environments that foster and encourage inspiration.
I am inspired when…
- I have the opportunity to spend unstructured time in nature, hear the sound of the wind through popular trees or the thrill of the hermit thrush.
- I have the mental space to feel deep empathy for another and I extend to see the situation from someone else’s point of view well beyond myself.
- I can bring my whole self to a situation and feel valued. I don’t feel I am playing a role or feel forced into playing a role.
- I can argue with my whole heart. I don’t feel I am “playing a political game” and must be careful. (Not the same as being reckless).
- I feel heard.
The inspired by stem considers specifics instances of a person or events that deeply inspire me and as a result provoke action.
I am inspired by…
- People who share their work in the open for others to use (examples Paul Andersen, David Knuffke).
- Stories of unusual bravery (examples Shackleton’s incredible voyage on The Endurance, Jon Krakauer’s story of survival in Into Thin Air.
- People who lead by example (my former principal Peter Blacklock, my grandmother Gang).
- Projects with deep personal purpose.
- Projects that seem impossible and challenge me.
- Problems that I have to think on for long periods of time.
I have seen students get inspired by the…
- Unexpected. This reminds me to be open to seemingly unrelated ideas.
- Quirky. Students sense of intrigue and curiosity perks up when the story has an unexpected twist to be.
- Gross. (Example using leeches in modern medicine is gross but fascinating.)
- Mysterious. The more mysterious the better. Students love the unknown, the seemingly illogical situation. (Example how does someone hold their breath for 22 minutes.
- Impossible. Many students are turned off by tasks that are overly easy to accomplish. A goal just out of reach sometimes ignites their inner inspiration.
- Silly. Laughter and play seem to open mental doors and zany moments are sometimes THE moments of inspiration.
Do we actively inspire students in our schools and classrooms? Do we help students discover how to create lives that will feed and strengthen their inspiration?
What inspires you?
When are you inspired?