I created this for an assignment in the connectivism course, CCK08. It is not what the assignment really asked for, but when you are doing a not-for-credit course, I imagine that you can make the assignments fit your own personal needs. The reality is that Figure 6 hits too close to home right now and although I will follow along with this very interesting topic, I won’t technically be taking the course. Some balance in my life is in order.

As a point of clarification, and for the sake of making my intended point, the size of the categories does not matter as much as their relationship to each other.

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[Update: I think the comments and my response add some necessary information to make more sense of what I was trying to say.]

12 comments on “Connectivism, Relationships and Balance

  1. Morning Dave!
    I’ve been thinking about this stuff lately too.

    Came across a post on Tim Ferriss’ blog recently that gave a different perspective.

    From his perspective and from Dr. Stewart Friedman’s work – it’s not about balance, because balance implies that you have to take away from one in order to give to the other. So you have to work less to have more personal, etc…

    Instead, they talk about aligning everything you do so that you actually want MORE of that overlap you show in your final slide – although with a different meaning. Not in a bad way, but because you can create more “dual zone” stuff in your life. What if your work were personal? What if your networking fed your soul? What if you work with your friends?

    I’ve been thinking about this for a bit – the one part I still find hard to fit into an overlapping section is kids. They are in one of those non-overlapping zones because they just need time – period. Focused, direct, undistracted time. Perhaps I’ll find the ways to include them in work or networking, but I suspect that’s still a part of my life that will need undisturbed, purely focused time – just for them.

    Interesting perspective to think about though.
    Links to articles are in my post here: http://www.iwasthinking.ca/2008/08/15/balance-isnt-really-what-were-looking-for/

  2. Hi David,

    I needed your narrative for your balanced relationships diagram 🙂

    I would have thought that the greater amount of intersection between personal interests, work goals, and personal learning network the more balanced your life would be. That is how I would have interpreted the diagram at any rate.

  3. Hi Gordon,

    As I suggest in my minimal post, “the size of the categories does not matter as much as their relationship to each other.”

    With ‘Personal’ my thinking wasn’t so much around interests as it was around family and life commitments.

    …also, in Figure 6: Inefficiency I think that most people who intentionally or unknowingly blend all three areas of their lives would actually end up harming their ability to feel successful or efficient in at least one of these three areas.

    I’m sure there are some rare hyper-connected exceptions to my rule, who have created meaningful relationships within their network that are satisfying on a personal/family level and a work level… but for the masses, I believe that compromise is what really ends up happening.

    I think that how this relates to Connectivism is that our Learning and Communication Network is now a conglomeration of nodes outside of our Work and our Personal lives that actually competes with those aspects as well as connects to, and with, them. Alternately, as little as 5 years ago most Learning and Communication came from within our Personal lives and our Work lives.

    Does that make sense?

    *Heidi’s post was in my spam folder and so I didn’t read it until after responding to Gordon.

    I agree about the “dual zone”(s) but wonder about when we try to put all 3 together. If I were to redraw Figure 5: Balanced Relationships, I’d have those dual zones look bigger (as also suggested by Gordon), but I still don’t think I’d want the middle zone, where all 3 intersect in Figure 6, to be bigger. I don’t think we do that well… at least not those of us with kids 😉

  4. Yup – I agree that kids are the piece that don’t fit into the multi-zone areas.

    But I think there’s still more to personal than just kids. And I think there are still ways that we can align all three – by doing what we value with people that we care about and learn from.

    Maybe it’s not a big area to start with, but my greatest success happens when I have a personal investment in what I’m doing – with passion and energy because it MATTERS to me.

    To me, that is really the area that I strive for because that is when I’m living in complete personal authenticity.

    Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in complete harmony – Gandhi

    Thanks for the conversation!

  5. Please explain your reasoning when you created slide 4. Here’s an example of how it could be extremely efficient. You want to network, spend time with the family and get some work done. Seems like you are describing a typical day on a family farm, a family business or in a clergy family. You need to think more like Tom Sawyer having to whitewash the fence. For example, we tell everyone to bring their family, anyone else they’d like to come, a potluck dish and a favourite game and meet in the parish hall for the evening. It feels like family time, you meet the people in your friends’ network and there’s an opportunity to share information in a relaxed atmosphere. Children learn from observation and participate and should grow up with an awareness of what is involved in producing the money for the food on the table.

  6. While I agree with both Heidi and Ruth I want to go back to what I said in my first comment,

    I’m sure there are some rare hyper-connected exceptions to my rule, who have created meaningful relationships within their network that are satisfying on a personal/family level and a work level… but for the masses, I believe that compromise is what really ends up happening.

    It would be wonderful to have a theory where Figure 6 (slide 4) is the ‘ideal state’, but is it realistically achievable for most of us? Or, is it a model for extending ourselves beyond our capabilities?

    Perhaps it’s just me trying to put it all together and finding myself wishing that the day had 30 hours. Or perhaps I just haven’t made the necessary connections to make this model work for me?

  7. I have to agree with David. I believe you have to have a good balance – spiritual, emotional, physical and social – to remain grounded in your everyday life. Too many of us are putting too much emphasis on the work/networking aspect of our life and are leaving the personal aspect to take care of itself (listen to me saying this as I type at nearly 8pm on Sunday evening). I find myself allowing this area of my life to overshadow what is best for me and my family as I struggle to keep abreast of the most up-to-date information for my classroom and for the Master’s program I am working on. Yes, you should integrate these areas as keeping them all completely separate would require a gargantuan amount of time seeing as how we all work harder and for longer hours now that even, say, 5 years ago. But – and it’s a big BUT – you have to keep the focus on what’s most important in your life and guard against becoming one-faceted.

  8. Hmmm… I feel like you aren’t quite getting what I’m saying – or perhaps I’m missing what you’re saying??

    What I’m talking about is NOT finding a better way to fit it all in – but finding a DIFFERENT way of doing it!

    Perhaps because I’m an entrepreneur and I can morph what I’m doing and how I sell it to match what I WANT to be doing, rather than having to follow someone else’s direction in a workplace or classroom. (Note – for a paper discussing this concept in an employee context, see Job Crafting at http://tinyurl.com/3uecvf)

    So to me, it’s not about working longer hours – my company’s progression over the last 4 yrs has been all about working LESS for the same money. And it’s certainly not about working harder. Rather, it’s about learning to recognize the part of my current situation that I LOVE doing and then looking for a way to do MORE of that and less of everything else.

    So by my way of looking at it – if networking is part of what you love, then how could you be doing your work differently so that is PART of it, rather than something else you have to do on the side?

    And I do all I can to align my work with what I personally value – which is why I quit working for corporate clients and only work with school districts now. I’m not far off including my kids in my work either.

    Is it easy? No.
    Is it common? I suspect it’s not.
    Is it possible? Most definitely YES!

  9. I agree wholeheartedly with the work less/accomplish more idea and love that your company is being able to accomplish this. Yes, the difference between the posts and the idea presented by our host may very well be the differences in approach – entrepreneurial vs education – definitely very different worlds. In business, especially one you own, you do have the ability to focus on one aspect over another, especially if it is more interesting or rewarding to you. In education, this is not the case at all. You are at the mercy of first one faction and then another and many things you are required to take care of have nothing whatsoever to do with what’s best for the students in the classroom. I am returning to the classroom after being out for 6 years. It is amazing the differences I see – the whole field of education has changed in many ways, some good, some not so good. The reason this blog struck me was the fact that I see, daily, the ability of the job to overwhelm the individual. I think that’s what David was trying to show in his overlapping diagram. It may very well be an issue of interpretation. 🙂

  10. Thanks Anita – you’ve given me some great perspective.

    It makes me wonder how the education “system” could do more to honor individual styles and needs in order to create greater alignment between job and personal needs. Why does it have to be “one size fits all”?

    We talk about our children and that there is no “mythical” normal child – so we should have an iep for every student.

    Why is it any different for teachers?? Shouldn’t we strive for a system that allows differentiation for how teachers do their jobs as well? A system that honours how they learn and what kind of support structures they need in order to grow and change? There is no “mythical” normal or standard or “right” way of teaching either.

    I sense that the entire system needs to learn how to individualize.

    No small task, is it?

  11. Heidi
    I would say the word ‘accountability’ pretty much sums up the reasoning that is behind the education system; that and NCLB legislation. It has pretty much tied teacher’s hands in the ability they have to branch out and do more non-traditional approaches to teaching. The academic teachers are too worried that if they try something new and the kids don’t pass the test, where will that leave them?

    At the school where I teach, one Math teacher had an Algebra student fail the Math portion of the 8th grade CRCT last year. You would not believe the fallout from this. This is a shame, as I worry that we are producing children (and teachers) who are much too concerned on getting the ‘right answer’ at the complete disregard for the thought process behind that answer.

    Yes, we should allow for individual differences but the question at the higher levels becomes, “How I can prove they’re doing their job if the way they teach doesn’t fit the evaluation tool?” In my district, we have a exiting Technology initiative that produces some great lessons using SMART and Promethean boards but when I suggested creating a county-wide directory for teachers to save these lessons to so that teachers at other schools could use them in their classrooms and use them to foster ideas for their own presentations, the only concern the supervisor had was the question of who was going to decide which ones were allowed to be posted there and who was going to be responsible to check them, Technology or Curriculum. She was worried about incorrect information being posted. When I said it didn’t matter and they didn’t need to be checked, each teacher who viewed or used the material had to be responsible to make sure the information was correct, that was not acceptable so the idea got dropped. So what this means is that dozens of grade level teachers are out there creating notebooks to use with their classes and unless they’ve set up a network to share with others, they’re all duplicating efforts for each and every lesson in each and every subject in each and every grade level. To me, this is a perfect example of how we allow ourselves as educators to get into the ‘inefficient’ mode we began talking about.

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