The estimated reading time for this post is 1 minutes
As I approach the end of my first month on the 21st Century Learning Team, I’ve been reflecting on the surreality of this employment experience; this department seems to revel in the nontraditional, the abnormal. So far, this “job” seems to be dramatically different than any other I’ve had before, and I LIKE it. So far, I have worked with my teammates to create and stream live shows, podcasts, and original songs, all while taking the time to develop mutual respect, trust, and understanding for each other (and, yes, that is considered “work”). I have begun to ask myself, “Why does this abnormal situation make me feel so darn good?” And, that is why I started to read about the “Psychopathology of Normality”.
In education, we often refer to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; this is the idea that one cannot become self-actualized, or the best “version” of oneself, until fundamental needs like shelter, warmth, food, love, safety, etc. are met. It turns out that Maslow had some other observations about why humans so rarely become self-actualized, one of which he titled “The Psychopathology of Normality” (explained in a blog found here). The basic idea is that striving to be “normal” (or “like everyone else”) is an inhibitor to self-actualization, and may actually be evidence of an unhealthy mental state (a.k.a. psychopathology). Sorry! I mean no offense to you “normal” people. But, what’s my point?
My point is that having experiences that look/feel different than the status quo, while discomforting, are actually “good” for you. Embrace the weird! Next time someone proposes a new idea, activity, or strategy, try to say, “I have never done that before, but let’s try!” rather than, “I don’t do that kind of stuff, weirdo.” You may find that by getting away from your definition of self, you may discover who you actually are!