|“Art is a personal act of courage, |
something one human does that
creates change in another.”
― Seth Godin
Visit Seth Godin's site to learn more.
As assigned reading in a graduate writing class, Seth Godin’s Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? speaks directly to his readers and puts the responsibility for their future, their careers, and their interactions squarely on their shoulders. His motivational book is a plea for the artist inside each one of us to stand up and shine.
One brief section, “Fearless, Reckless, Feckless,” immediately reminded me of my class of 8th graders. A tight-knit group of 9 students, they were preparing to graduate from middle school and spread out to various high schools.
Instead of launching into the planned yearbook activities, I assigned an essay entitled the Technology –Less Essay: Fearless, Reckless and Feckless. I first posed the question, “What use is technology if you can’t use what you find?”
The assignment required research at multiple websites and included the following components:
- To define each term;
- To provide an example of each term;
- To provide a quotation representing at least one term; and
- To indicate which quality they admired or aspired to be and why.
One student, indeed the first one I thought of when reading this section of Linchpin, submitted a two-sentence essay: “I think that recklessness is manly and correct. I am very reckless and aspire to be even more reckless.” The head of school personally delivered the formal Teacher Note regarding his incomplete essay with my attached observation that he “certainly understands one term from the assignment.”
Students submitted essays with their interpretation of fearless, reckless and feckless. The class discussions about the true meaning of these words and their aspirations sparked a animated debate. One student struggled with writing, yet made an amazing conclusion. She found that we each represent all of these terms at different times. She aspired to learn from her recklessness, face her fears, and find her way back to responsibility from fecklessness.
After they presented their papers to the class, the group collaborated to select the strongest parts of each individual essay and build a collection of all components. Each student contributed a sentence or two to the group compilation, remastering a class representation of the assignment. The students each read their contribution, while we recorded an audio version of the class compilation. From defiant stares to total engagement, the students proved they are learning to be indispensable.
Overall, I enjoyed Godin's easy-to-digest approach to challenging readers to find their gifts and figure out what to do rather than waiting for instructions. It preaches a heavy dose of enthusiasm to pump up the reader, but one that works well in the context of Godin's motivational message.