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Dec 22, 2011

The treasure trough of secrets

Today was one of the rare days with no meetings, and very low flow of emails. Days like that are best used for cleaning up old entangled messes and for general organizing. It is time to look into the priority list, and pull some things from the bottom of it. It is surprising how important are some of the tasks that in the middle of a crazy semester never come up to the top of the to-do list. Here is an interesting error we make - certain tasks seems insignificant not because they are, but because no one pressures us to do them. But I venture to speculate that for some of the most important things we can do there is no external pressures. No one will pressure you to write that poem, or to read that book you always knew are important.

For example, for a long time, we all thought the assessment instrument descriptions need to be edited - both for length and for consistency. They were pretty well written originally, and therefore there were always many more pressing issues to be dealt with. So today I thought I'd bite the bullet and try to clean them up. While the result may not be impressive to any of you, I was surprised how much fun it was for me. Looking at forms, rubrics, descriptions, and trying to figure out how to make them shorter, more economical, and yet detailed enough to be useful. There is a quiet and meditative quality to this. The tiny discoveries - oh, we may not need this document at all; let's just use that one for the same purpose! - these discoveries are probably similar to those of cooking or gardening, or re-writing a syllabus. They are too small to be of importance to anyone else, and are not really worth communicating to others. But we all have those. They make life enjoyable; they constitute a small treasure trough of secrets we all carry in our heads.

This reminded me, when I was about 5, my preschool buddies and I used to hide little things - candy wraps, buttons, bids - in the playground somewhere, in the dirt. Most of them were probably immediately forgotten, but some we then remembered and dug out - for no purpose, just to know one can have a little thing that is just his, and may sometimes be shared with one or two friends.

My holiday wish to you is to have a quiet moment to remember something small that is not for sharing with others. Because there is no one to judge, you can treasure it as much as you want.

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