Fiero! The joy that makes you want to punch the air.

After a fun couple of hours writing the previous post, I’ve decided to hunker down and read some more books on data visualisation. However, I wanted to update you on my Summer Research Scholarship student – the one who was developing the game. Well, he demo’d the basic computerised version on Friday and, simply, it works, it’s fun, and he’s got a simple text display going. Next week it’s GUI + networking design and build, then two more weeks of coding and wrapping it up for week 6 with API documentation, extensible framework and a plan for porting it to Android and iPhone.

Let me remind you that he started two weeks ago, was given some books, a brief, and a lot of access to me and my time, as well as my planning skills and overall management. In that time, he has learnt about an entirely new way of presenting information, come up with six ideas, found the best one and chased it with an amazing passion. In two weeks he has a simple working game that could be played right now. The more I work with students, the more I realise that my fears about what they can’t achieve often become constraints on what I allow them to achieve. I (implicitly or explicitly) tell people that This is enough when it sets a false level of achievement for the struggling and it bores the gifted. Yes, there are varying levels of ability and we must educate all of our students, but I’ve seen so many people soar when I’ve given them open skies and a jet pack, that I can spend the time to help those who are still walking, or have fallen once or twice. My belief is that most, if not all, will fly one day. If I don’t believe that, then what am I doing?

It’s the weekend and I’m blogging this because I want you to know how much we can do, as educators, as people, as mentors and, sometimes, as the ones who stand back and let people try. We have to build our world in a way that it’s possible to fly but it’s not fatal to fall.

It’s an enormous challenge and I love it. Fiero is a word that we use for that feeling of achievement and joy that makes you raise your fists into the air and punch out to the sky because you can’t contain how good you feel. My student had such a moment when he worked out one of the core design issues that turned his game from dull to fun. He told me about it, using terminology he’d picked up on this project to describe that joy. Now, I have that feeling because I think that good things are happen. What more can any of us ask for in our jobs, once the mundane issues are settled?

Have a great weekend! Find the joy! Punch the air!

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