I really dig it when my EDU POV collapses in on itself.

Sometimes, digging my way out, is the only way to recognize my ridiculousness from my idiosyncratic tendencies from my actual good ideas.

The impact does not need to be damaging, but it should implode with enough calamity to make me aware of my edges, supports, and connections.

This past week I listened to NPR’s The Hidden Brain podcast. The title What’s in it for Me? caught my attention, but what held me was the lead.

Many of us are drawn to coincidences like this. They make us wonder, how in the world did this happen? What does it mean? Today we explore our deep fascination with these moments of serendipity. New research suggests they reveal important things about how our minds work, and they have a far more powerful effect on our lives than any of us imagine.

My lens on life is always focused on its the connective tissues with education and, like I mentioned at the start, my ridiculously, idiosyncratic, good ideas about improving it.

I enjoy believing that I possess active agency over my EDU imaginings but this podcast discombobulated my reality just a bit.  And because I pretty much see EDU learning opportunities everywhere, its kind of a big problem.

The first Act dealt with demystifying the magic of coincidence, happenstance and luck. Best part about it, I understood the statistical analogies and actually felt smarter as an aftereffect. Act two shifted slightly. It moved me pretty quickly from smug mathematic to nervous naïveté. The remainder tied together two episodes,  What are the Odds? to something called The IKEA Effect

The topics ranged from the mathematics of coincidence, to free will, to ego bias as well as implicit egotism. Now implicit bias I have come across before. But unlike bias, which keeps us at a distance from what we perceive is not like us, egotism draws that which we perceive similar, towards us.

Mindblowing, provocative, and definitely too much to unpack fully here. But it got me thinking about learning spaces. And how they are constructed. More specifically the ‘how’ behind my own choices in setting up my classroom.

Now I am not clever enough to clearly articulate the paradox I am about to flesh out, but here it goes.

The IKEA effect goes something like this… we humans will generally place a higher value on things we create ourselves. IKEA has baked this into a market strategy. And by opportunizing this behaviour IKEA has pretty much cornered the market in the build-it-yourself category.

A legion of DIY consumers now believe that they can save money and build their own living room as easily and completely as advertised.

Consistently, economically, and safely.

And regardless of the onboard skill set, each client affirms their belief that the final product will be satisfactory regardless of the outcome. The promise may or may not hold to be true, but the expectation does not change- that the final structure will emerge exactly as advertised.


These two concepts dug deep into my modern [read as ‘current’] learning approach. And to be honest, I think I may need to give my pedagogy a bit of a pat down. Because I suspect that it is holding stolen property.

As I look around classrooms I am reminded of every Pinterest, Twitter, blog, and conference experience that I have engaged with in the last few years. Now this is not entirely a bad thing, but it may not be as much of a good thing as it could be.

And I gotta concede that the awesome learning space that I am pursuing, has probably never been posted online. Authenticity can be like that. It is more comfortable being the ‘only’ and not necessarily the best.

There is no coincidence that I have, what I believe to be, a cool learning space. I know this because I was inspired to build it on someone else’s footprint. Someone that I follow in some form, that I feel is a lot like me in my teaching sensibility. And  because I built [assembled] the elements myself, it has value. Ironically, I have posted pics of my space and people commented that it was ingenuitive.

classtwoThe story so far seems to be that we need to get as far away from old-timey teaching practices and spaces as possible. Check any EDU blogspace or twitter chat inside the silo and everyone is sipping a wee bit from the same cup. We want something different for our students.

But, the single story that is emerging, may seem ridiculous and idiosyncratic at best, because from the outside our spaces may all look the same. Despite our negative feelings about the shape and spirit of our former EDU headspaces, our new spaces are being built with the similar iterative insidious fervour.

Riskology founder  How To Profit From The Ikea Effect The suggestions may be better framed as an inquiry method to stave off the ego centred drive to create cookie cutter learning designs.

  1. Don’t buy pre-built furniture. Get out the tools and put it together yourself.
  2. Don’t pay someone to fix things around your house, do it yourself.
  3. Download the manual and install it on your own.
  4. If you value convenience above all, you will be poor

Every one of these strategies brings me back to student choice and voice.

So then if I am the one who is looking over the fence and coveting what I see there. Maybe I should be the last person to drive design change.

Asking, ‘What does it take to have an authentic and truly imaginative learning space?’ may be a good first step. So, let the students fly or fail on this one.

Chances are they will make fewer in-silo choices than I will.



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