I’ve noticed that Twitter has been replacing my daily RSS feed reader activities. I’m not at my desk enough to keep Twitter open all day, but do find moments to jump in and review the last couple hours worth of conversations. When I do this I am always prompted to click on things people I care about find interesting. I don’t need to use digg or something like stumble upon as I have what I think is the most powerful (and targeted) recommendation engine available in my Twitter network.
This morning was no different. I jumped into Twitter to find a link to one of my media heros, Ira Glass, discussing storytelling. Hearing Ira talk about storytelling is about as compelling of a professional development opportunity that I can get my hands on. His stories on This American Life are engaging, moving, and just downright amazing to me. I listed every single week and can say it is honestly the only media piece that I work hard not to miss. In the short clip I’ve embedded below, Ira is discussing how hard it is to go out and find good stories to tell … I love this quote because it is so true on so many levels …
Between a half to a third of everything that we try, we’ll go out, we’ll get the tape, and then we kill it.
When he talks about this I not only reflect on the art of storytelling, but also in a lot of ways about the things we do in our work. We do Hot Teams to try things out we think might be interesting only to find that, while marginally useful, they aren’t worth the effort going forward. I think too many times we get bullied or pressed into making something happen when there aren’t compelling reasons to do so. In our work, creativity is just as important as anything else — I firmly believe that there is an art to innovative practice, that it isn’t all science. And with any sort of great creative art, you have to be bold enough to say no a hell of a lot more than you say yes. I think Ira says it best when he mentions,
Not enough gets said about the abandoning of crap.
What he is saying and what I am trying to say is that for things to be really, really good we have to be tough. In storytelling, as in our work, we have to cut to the “so what” moment and focus energy on making things great. I’m always amazed at how much crap gets amplified because someone wasn’t willing to demand more. With where we are in education, that can’t continue to happen. We have to honestly say that if something isn’t worth the time, energy, money, or whatever to move it forward we kill it. We have to be willing to not only abandon the crap, but be willing to push as hard as we can towards superior outcomes. Maybe I’m pulling things together that don’t belong, but the video clip below and the other ones from the series really spoke to me.