I’ve found my special Purpose! #45 #cong22

Synopsis:

The search for purpose is difficult, convoluted and complicated – but oh, so worth it.

Total Words

821

Reading Time in Minutes

3

Key Takeaways:

  1. Ask questions of others and yourself

  2. Seek answers of others and yourself

  3. Live, laugh and love

  4. I have purpose

About Chris Reina:

Chris Reina has been involved in education since 2002, technology since 1981 and Making since 1971. (You do the maths). He is part of MakerMeet.ie – who deliver Maker-led, project-based S.T.E.A.M. workshops nationwide to primary, secondary, third-level and other institutions.

He feels passionately that education is the most important thing in the world and that teaching using Maker skills is the most rewarding job there is.

Chris loves cats, kayaking, kite-flying, steampunk, pedantic semantics and knowing the meanings of ligatures, aglets, gallibanders and lexiphanic.

Contacting Chris Reina:

You can connect with Chris on Twitter or send him an email.

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By Chris Reina

(Yes – the title is a nod to Steve Martin.)

As always when writing for Cong (or other conferences/subjects) I always return to trying to answer the 6 questions my mother gave me when I was young (and pleasingly – students are still being taught):

Who? What? How? Why? When? Where?

Purpose can be divided into many categories – self, life, others, need, passions, conscience, etc… but I think most struggle with the first as it’s the most difficult – their own purpose. It is a difficult question – one philosophers have been seeking the answer to for millennia (for themselves and others!)

I suspect most of us travel through life either:
1) Trying to find our Purpose
2) Convincing ourselves we have found our Purpose
or…
3) Not bothering to look for our Purpose

Point 1 – This is such a huge and bewildering thing – and sometimes even the task of just looking can be incredibly daunting. I mean – how do we know what to look for? Will it happen gradually, or suddenly hit like a bolt of lightning? What if we never find it? What happens if we think we find it and it’s wrong? Welcome to my life yet again Existential Dread – it’s good to have you back. Could we maybe talk less this time…?

Point 2 – I think some of us convince ourselves we have found it… in order to not have to look further. Perhaps this comes from a desire to please others or just a weariness that comes from life pushing us down and we need a, well… purpose. Once we think we’ve found it – we can stop looking and ignore it. This may stray into becoming a dangerous path of lying to ourselves.

Point 3 – Not looking for our purpose I feel is incredibly sad. Mostly because I firmly believe we all have something to offer the world we inhabit and move through… unfortunately – if we are taught to not question and just exist – to be seen and not heard – we often don’t believe we have value and lose the will to seek answers to our questions or even the desire to ask the questions in the first instance.

So – where does that leave us? For you… I don’t know. For me, I do. I’ve done many jobs in my lifetime, some better than others (of course). Some enjoyable, others not. Some I thought were right for me (and who knows – at the time, perhaps they were).

I’ve done bad things in my life – some really horrible I regret (they haven’t found the bodies) – other times, I did good. Mostly, I tried, sometimes I succeeded, sometimes I didn’t.

Therefore – is our purpose defined by who we are, or what we do, or even why/how/when/where we do things? Is it defined by the money we make, the character we present, our wishes, dreams, hopes and desires…? Probably. Or not. Again, I don’t have that answer for you… just for me.

I’ve lived on this planet for 53 years. Done the work and the play. Loved, laughed and lost. Helped and hurt. Drank the wine, ate the food (sometimes too much). I didn’t really manipulate my life to get where I am. I’ve pushed, committed and worked hard – but mostly I’ve been lucky. But, I AM here now – and happy.

I love my loved ones (you know who you are), I am fulfilled and passionate (maybe too much) about my work. (See bio) I tend to get sad more than angry and happy more than joyous – but I think I’m moving toward balance.

For me – I have my purpose – may you find yours – and if my words can help in any way, they are yours for the asking. I’m still seeking answers and asking those 6 questions of myself and all around me – thanks mum.

What is this leadership thing you speak of? #42 #cong21

Synopsis:

Leadership is perhaps more about NOT leading than leading. Being a leader is complicated and difficult, with not a little dose of imposter syndrome thrown in.

Total Words

843

Reading Time in Minutes

3

Key Takeaways:

  1. Leadership is complicated and difficult.
  2. Is NOT leading a better example than leading?
  3. Imposter Syndrome makes for a better leader.
  4. Lead for good – not selfish reasons.

About Chris Reina

Chris Reina has been involved in education since 2002, technology since 1981 and Making since 1971. (You do the maths). He is 1/3 of MakerMeet.IE – who deliver Maker-led, project-based S.T.E.A.M. workshops nationwide to the education, enterprise and private sectors.

He feels passionately that education is the most important thing in the world and that teaching using Maker skills is the most rewarding job there is.

Chris loves cats, kayaking, kite-flying, steampunk, pedantic semantics and knowing the meanings of ligatures, aglets, gallibanders and lexiphanic.

Contacting Chris Reina

You can connect with Chris on his personal and maker meet twitter accounts, Instagram, Facebook or send him an email.

See also MakerMeet or TeachTech websites.

By Chris Reina

I have started writing this at least 6-7 times. I abandoned it each time and began a re-write. I still don’t know what to say. As someone who is a leader (albeit unintentional) for many people of varying age groups and areas of life – I often feel uncomfortable and fraudulent in my capacity as a leader.

Pondering this – while writing an essay on leadership is both ironic and leads to feelings of imposter syndrome. After the 6th (or was it 7th) time of writing, I began to ponder less on myself and more on my emotions. Perhaps… I thought – these very feelings are not uncommon and even add to the qualities of a leader.

As an educator – I certainly know it is better to exhibit the qualities of integrity, honesty, motivation, ethics and humility rather than teach them. Nudging rather than bludgeoning if you will.

Leadership can take many forms. From those who bully and berate to those that encourage and enrich. Perhaps the most difficult form of leadership is one of modelling. For me, a good leader attempts to model qualities and good behaviour to everyone – regardless of staff to customer; employee to manager; cleaning person to chauffeur; CEO to COO; educator to entrepreneur.

Certainly hard work, motivation, vision, 21st century skills, communication and compassion are all some of the requirements to succeed in being an effective leader. However, often I believe leadership is confused with success. While the two are not mutually exclusive, they are definitely not the same. As leadership can take many forms, so too can success. Defining both leadership and success can clarify to each of us how we see ourselves, our goals and our unique world-view.

Leaders are all around us. Family, society, education, government, religious, health, economic, world and more. I marvel at the pressure that must be felt by those with the dedication and responsibility for more than two of the above. It must be almost unbearable – and yet many bear it. To those who bear it with dignity and compassion in environments where many don’t want them to be leaders who succeed – I’m in awe.

There can be many reasons why some people want to be a leader. Money, power, control, fame, validation, glory and prestige are some of the poorer reasons. Some of the better reasons are a genuine desire to help others, selflessness, public-spiritedness, benevolence, humanitarianism and philanthropy. On self-reflection – I wonder which of the poorer or better areas I fall in to. It’s difficult to know sometimes and requires asking hard questions of myself. (Which I haven’t asked nor answered yet!)

I know many people in positions of leadership and many have taught me difficult lessons – some of which I’ve learned and some I haven’t! Most have earned my respect and a few have lost my respect entirely. For the latter, their guidance has fallen short of my hoped expectations – or more accurately, they simply didn’t care about their responsibility or job. “Meh” seems to cover them adequately.

In reflection of the leaders whom I respect entirely, most feel they are poor at their job, don’t work hard enough and are just “getting along”. Few see the gentle guidance, support and encouragement they offer on a daily basis. Imposter syndrome strikes again. And yet… I wonder again if that quality makes a better leader.

In short (or long?) – clearly, being a leader is complicated, difficult and fraught with self-doubt (well, for me anyway). To those who inspire and lead me – you know not what you have done – and yet have done the most. I’m remarkably fortunate to count those people as my friends, colleagues, and collaborators in diverse communities around the world and close to home. I believe we’re all leaders and to strive for better is always a worthwhile goal of success to define ourselves by.

Filters, Lenses and Prisms #41 #cong20

Synopsis:

How to navigate information overload in Society 3.0.

Total Words

641

Reading Time in Minutes

3

Key Takeaways:

  1. We digest large quantities of information every day.
  2. How do we as adults teach students to navigate this information?
  3. In Society 3.0 – how will students process this?
  4. What filters, lenses or prisms can we use to help this?

About Chris Reina:

 Chris is a Maker. He has been involved in education since 2002, technology since 1981 and Making since 1971. (You do the maths). 😉

He feels passionately that education is the most important thing in the world and that teaching using Maker skills is the most rewarding job there is.

Chris loves cats, kayaking, kite-flying, steampunk, pedantic semantics and knowing the meanings of ligatures, aglets, gallibanders and lexiphanic.

It is often said he is terribly modest (but not by him).

Contacting Chris Reina:

 You can connect with Chris on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or email him:

By Chris Reina

Vision. In order to see better, some people wear glasses. People can be nearsighted, farsighted, have double vision or any manner of other difficulties. All this usually means is we need to wear corrective lenses to see the world clearer.

We, all of us see the world differently. Perspective is a marvellous way to view problems, solutions, people, countries, places, times, communication and pretty much everything…

Perspective gives us different, opposing, similar and varied outlooks on the way the world works, our place in the world as well as everyone else’s place in the world.

Perspective can often only be achieved with age – however, in a world and society where information travels faster than we can think and is accessible anywhere – achieving perspective has become more important to try and achieve earlier in life.

I would say that perspective now needs to begin as early as our schooling years. (If not even earlier!) We can’t wait until 3rd level education as young adults before trying to gain this valuable skill.

Hence – vision. If we have difficulty seeing, we get lenses of some type to help that. I propose we need a methodology of using “lenses” to help us “see” better. Not right and wrong or even facts and fiction… but the dilution of information.

I live in a technological world. I use (takes deep breath): Email, Facebook, Facetime, Hangouts, Instagram, Messenger, Phone(s); Radio, Slack, Teamviewer, Twitter, TikTok, Teams, Telegram, Television, Viber, WhatsApp, Webex, Zoom, multiple news apps, and (now much less often) word-of-mouth. I swear to you, that’s not a boast, it’s a plague – but (to some extent) necessary. (and I doubly swear to you – sometimes most of them in a SINGLE DAY!)

That’s just me. I’m experienced. I know when to down technology and go for a walk (not often enough) and when my head is overloaded. Younger people don’t have the benefit of age, filters and knowing when to walk away from technology and more importantly – information overload. We all need some sort of lens/prism/filter to allow us to navigate the world of technology – not better necessarily, just clearly.

Critical thinking, fact-checking, logical fallacies, self-discipline, analytical skills, inductive and deductive reasoning, qualitative and quantitative skills are all competencies that can take years of learning, development and practice.

I believe we need to take those very difficult concepts and distill them into a tool that allows us to take the significant amount of information/data input in our daily lives and run it through a lens/prism/filter to allow us to better disseminate all that information.

I don’t have an answer, but I am actively searching for one – before my brain burns with information overload. Help save my brain and those of future generations by applying critical thinking and assessment to this issue.

Communication + Unity = Community #46 #cong19

Synopsis:

Only by effective, candid communication and collaborative cooperation can we begin to solve local, national and international issues. This starts with conversations in our disappearing communities.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Begin with awareness of oneself
  2. Empathise with local communities
  3. Expand to national communities
  4. Demonstrate good practice with international communities

About Chris Reina:

Chris Reina has been involved in education for the last 17 years and has been a Maker for over 40 years. He has participated in many diverse aspects of the arts, education, industry and enterprise for over 35 years.

As one-third of MakerMeetIE he provides Maker-led, S.T.E.A.M.-based workshops to teachers, students and educators nationwide.

Contacting Chris Reina:

You can follow Chris on Twitter or contact him on email

By Chris Reina

Communication – noun

  1. The imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium.
  2. The successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings.

Unity – noun

  1. The state of being united or joined as a whole.
  2. The state of forming a complete and harmonious whole, especially in an artistic context.

COMMUNICATION

In society – communication has become the easiest it ever has been on the planet. But what are the things we are saying? At the push of a button, we can speak to someone on the other side of the planet whom we’ve likely never met or may never meet. This power (and make no mistake – it is a power) has grown exponentially since the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century.

Alexander Graham Bell introduced the telephone in 1876. Fast forward nearly 100 years – Motorola introduces the first mobile phone in 1973. Fast forward 34 years – Steve Jobs introduces the first iPhone in 2007. Fast forward 12 years to 2019 – today. What communication devices do have in your pocket? How many different ways can you send and receive information? SMS, Viber, WhatsApp, Messenger, FaceTime, Slack, Telegram, Insta, Facebook, Twitter and many more. Power in your pocket.

This rapid growth has tremendous advantages for expansion in business, industry and information systems. Moore’s Law will end around 2025 – manufacturing and industry in technology will begin to evolve and change. This change has already begun with a move towards core values and skills. Unfortunately, this also has the potential to make vague and obscure facts, information and truth more prevalent in society. Where do we turn to?

UNITY

As our communication skills broaden, so does our access to information – with the result that our world view expands, changes and grows. This allows us to recognise problems and issues on a larger world-wide scale. Climate change, war, corruption, education, consumerism, gender equality, poverty (and more) are all issues that affect every nation on Earth. With communication, we recognise and empathise with these issues almost as soon as they are highlighted.

Knowing more about the world than we ever thought possible makes us a unifying force – even if we don’t always agree on everything! Unity allows us to meet like-minded people and express our viewpoints – and ultimately feel good because we know the issues we care about… other people also empathise with. This makes us all feel less isolated and part of a greater community.

Now look around you. Who is sitting in the same room as you? Who is about to walk in? Who lives next door? What are their names? Could those people be part of a unifying strength? Let’s look back to the Greeks – “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” – Aristotle

Uniting as a group gives us strength – and in an era where consumerism is slowing – people are looking once again towards basic skills, dependability, honesty, commitment and of course… Community. Ultimately, communities can be large or small – but they all start with the ability to communicate.

Conclusion

Unity and Communication have the power (in your pocket) to change the world. However, these changes can only be applied and useful after we practice awareness, empathy, diversity and communication with those closest to us including ourselves. The Greek maxims are again useful here – “Know Thyself”.

We’re All Makers and Learners!… #54 #cong18

Synopsis:

In a world of technology and 24/7 connectivity we can’t escape, making and learning are counterpoints to screen time. Embrace your Maker spirit and share with others!

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Make something every day
  2. Learn something every day
  3. Incorporate these into your daily life
  4. Share these with others

About Chris Reina:

Chris Reina has been involved in education for the last 16 years, technology for the last 37 and making for the last 45 years. From showing 16mm film at 10 years old to his role on the startup committee of Tralee Educate Together NS to his current business – TeachTech Support and MakerMeetIE he has participated in many diverse aspects of education.

As Ireland’s only Apple Certified T3 Trainer he supports educational institutions nationwide by providing services such as: workshops and training to teachers and students; implementing and deploying technology; web and graphic design as well as servicing and repairs. Amongst his skills he lists fire, magic, circus skills and modesty.

His latest venture – one-third of MakerMeetIE – who are dedicated educators with a passion in Maker-led, S.T.E.A.M.-based education for teachers, students, parents and anyone with an interest in making and learning. He has recently returned from Rome where they have exhibited the Ginormous Geodesic Rome Dome – an 18 foot geodesic dome.

Contacting Chris Reina:

You can follow Chris on Twitter or send him an email.

By Chris Reina

It’s an odd feeling to suddenly realise you have been something for the last 45 years and only come to realise it in the last 24 months. Me? I’m a Maker.

My work life has developed from a Graphic Designer to fixing and repairing computers; teaching and training people how to use computers and consulting on best practice and usage of computers. My daily job requires me to be in constant contact with technology, screens, wires, cables and adaptors of every make, model and size. From phones and tablets to laptops and desktops; from projectors and printers to cameras and networks – I look at them all, fix them, advise on them and teach them.

Along with my ongoing and constant immersion in technology over the last 45 years, I have practiced other diverse artistic endeavours. These range from presenting a 16mm film reel from age 10; renovating a 150+ year old Mansion at age 14; photography, mask-making, stage and street theatre, seasonal decorating; craftwork; festivals, events as well as co-founder and production designer for The Enchanted Forest – a seasonal experience using 1000+ creatures, a miniature train set, caves, mountains and running streams on a dedicated floor of a house. The most recent project was the Ginormous Geodesic Dome which we exhibited in Rome to over 100,000 people.

Clearly this is very different work to computing and computers. I’ve struggled to try and decide who I was in the world over the last 45 years – mostly by defining myself by my job.

I’ve been following (and fighting) both sets of skills and have now decided it’s not WHO I am, but WHAT I am. I’m a Maker.

Defining what a Maker (with the capital M) is can be quite difficult. An excellent effort was made by Adam Savage formerly of Mythbusters who also embodies the Maker Mindset: “Humans do two things that make us unique from all other animals; we use tools and we tell stories. And when you make something, you’re doing both at once.”

Wikipedia defines the Maker culture as “…a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture that intersects with hacker culture and revels in the creation of new devices as well as tinkering with existing ones.” Both explanations are very suitable.

There has been a lot of talk over the last 18-24 months surrounding how technology is harmful and it should be put away, hidden and to just stop using it – especially in education. My belief is that this solution simply won’t work. Banning something is often a reactive and simplified answer with no depth or thought involved. I don’t believe it will help us… I have another idea.

Instead of banning technology – we integrate and augment it by embracing the Maker culture. Teach mathematics by making a Geodesic Dome; study history by looking at trees; explore languages by using green screen; learn science by blowing things up; embrace engineering by building bridges; make art by getting our hands dirty. Use high-level tools and go back to basics. Mix analog and digital; make mistakes regularly. Iterate and repeat.

Maker-led problem-solving, critical thinking and project-based learning teach skills, confidence, imagination and exploration in all aspects of work life from retail, financial, technical, medical and more straight through to personal, social and public life. These skills make students and learners more well-rounded, valuable members of society – which is good for everyone.

Learn and Make something today.