Who Owns What?

The world is full of great ideas.

That’s because there are dreamers and optimists and geniuses of all stripes on this globe who have been kind enough to share their thoughts with us.

The best ideas get shared – they always have been, whether it took lifetimes for them to move across time and space to new eyes and ears or blast across the internet in a flash, just waiting for the right search to pull them up or the right people to shareshareshare them over social media.

What I have learned about many great ideas though is that they are left open for us to study and toy with and adapt to our own purposes rather that simply adopt. I certainly have read and welcomed in so many great ideas about teaching, but I have worked to make them fit my style and my personality and my students and our environment — and it is a process that continues to evolve as I’m exposed to more great ideas over time.

So I kind of laughed when I saw this tweet this morning about my blog post from yesterday:



Do I own that goal? Heck, I looked at what I had down and thought, I swiped and adopted a half-dozen other people’s ideas for mine. Why couldn’t she? Why would that be bad?

But it’s the “implications for Ss…?” part that has my brain buzzing.

I just read Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon recently and I couldn’t help but think about it as I read her comment. He says that we have a tendency to collect ideas and save them and share them and make them into something that is our own — but we only really do this with the ideas that mean something to us.

That seems relevant here — that we want our students to find personal purpose and meaning in what we teach so that they collect those ideas and save them and share them and make them into something that is their own.

I suspect that Shawna can swipe my #nerdlution goals, but what they will look like in practice will look different — just the same as I’m sure that my Bullet Journal will look different from other people’s and my time on the treadmill will look different from other people (like my friend and former student Whitney who responded to my treadmill pic with one of her own…with a whole lot more time and miles on it than mine).

This is the best kind of differentiation. It’s what we do in Real Life all the time, but students do not often get the opportunity to do this for themselves at school. I let my students choose their own independent reading material. I have let them choose which Shakespearean play they would like to study. I have given them freedom to choose topics for their writing assignments. I have been thinking about doing more, but I think I need to explore some more Great Ideas on the subject before I feel comfortable adding more.

Thanks, Shawna, for the opportunity to think about this. I’m sure I’m not done pondering the subject, but my fifteen minutes are way past up and I have other things that need to be accomplished today – or so my planner says. :)  I hope that if you do steal my goals, that you share with me how it goes and what they look like in the end. I hope we both are challenged and successful and feel like we have made them our own.


3 thoughts on “Who Owns What?

  1. I love this. I feel like when discussing writing with students, I am always reassuring them using a concept that I learned from Katie Wood Ray–that writing is individual but that it is not unique, and what you do with another’s words, or particular craft move, or overall concept–that is where creativity lies…!

    What is super interesting to me is what you took from my tweet, Cindy– because by “bad” I was referring to choosing a goal that you know at which you can succeed…we often tell students to choose a reasonable goal, but what about choosing a goal that you are 99% sure you can meet successfully? What is learned or gained from that? I need to ruminate on that some more, because I am definitely uncomfortable with it. But I also know the value of success, and how success almost always leads to further action.

    Thanks for your post. There is nothing that makes me happier than being the catalyst for another person’s thinking. :)

    • I guess it depends on how much you challenge yourself with the basic goals. Fifteen minutes of walking when you start is good, but I hope I’ll be jogging and running eventually. Or at least upping the incline. Writing for fifteen minutes a day could result in something much bigger if I challenge myself to do that. But I picked something I can succeed at – as a good starting place. So, it’s what you do with it that counts. It’s adapting to your needs and not just adopting and doing the minimum because it’s easy and just meets the goals.

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