The era of the everyman – but, you better be good.

Today marks the beginning of a new decade. Time for reflection, but also time for analysis of where we sit. I truly believe we’ve encountered the era of the everyman, the time for the ordinary individual to have the opportunity to achieve something extroadinary.

But, you better work at being good at what you do if you think you’re going to rise above the pack and achieve everything you want. Just because you can post a video to YouTube, connect through Twitter, write a blog, and use all manner of social media networks to get yourself out there, doesn’t mean that you’re going to be the next big thing. Yes, the everyman has the opportunity to come from nowhere and make an impact, but plenty of everymen and women out there are starting to catch onto this idea. That’s why it’s vitally important we teach our students to manage their online presence well and ensure that the quality work they produce and expertise they have, can surface and inspire an audience.

I was reminded of this yesterday when I saw a television interview about Danny MacAskill, a 23 yr old Scottish urban cyclist. When Danny was a teenager, he spent countless hours riding his bike and learning how to do things with a bike that are seemingly impossible, until you see Danny doing them of course. Why was Danny the subject of a television interview? Because his flatmate took a video of his bike riding prowess, posted it on YouTube, and it got 12 million hits. Did his school identify and nurture his talent? I can’t be 100% sure, but the interview suggested his bike riding wasn’t exactly looked on favourably in the community he lived in. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if he had have been encouraged to explore his talent to his full potential while at school? Thankfully, Danny’s now making a fully fledged career out of his talent, and is talking to students about how to do what it is he does. No doubt quite a few of those kids will take note of how he came to be living his dream and may act on the example.

I’m a little disappointed that the elective I proposed for this school year, Learning U, didn’t get enough interest from our student body to warrant a class running. (It was renamed ‘ICT’ in the elective handbook – don’t think that helped it any : (  ) The idea of the course was that students would explore their passion and use the tools of social media to connect and learn from others who also share a similar passion. I think it would have helped guide some students to understand how it is you can produce quality content that will help you rise to the top. So, how will I convey this understanding without the forum I was hoping for? I’m not quite sure yet, but I know I’ll be doing my best to help the students at my school to understand that you can use the available tools, and the connections that are possible with these tools, to your advantage. But they’ll need to remember, quality counts while you’re at it.

3 Replies to “The era of the everyman – but, you better be good.”

  1. I agree Jenny — putting ICT in it will bury it. These subjects used to be exciting before mass access to ‘everybody’. They love tools that connect them to friends, and now that 3G is showing up on pre-paid mobiles — this may well be the last year where school admins have any real say in who can access what.

    Nice post … all the best for 2010!

  2. “Did his school identify and nurture his talent? I can’t be 100% sure, but the interview suggested his bike riding wasn’t exactly looked on favourably in the community he lived in. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if he had have been encouraged to explore his talent to his full potential while at school?”

    Well said. We miss too many opportunities to nourish both our students (and our teachers).

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