I have used metaphors of hiking, traveling, and exploring to organize and reflect on my experiences since I took my first backpacking trip as a teenager. Each new career opportunity was a “map-reading moment” and each new skill or understanding was a resource for the backpack. I have always been partial to the ideas, and the language, of expeditions: discovery as the purpose for travel, preparing for all contingencies in a single backpack, living simply, the ingenuity born from problem solving with a leatherman tool, relying on teammates, “working until all the work is finished,” and “everyone takes the weight they can carry.” As we envisioned the intent of an expedition at Cottonwood Gulch, we take these journeys to learn about the world around us so that we may better understand who we are.
So I sort my experiences by the different paths I have walked as an educator. Some of these paths I have found because they were clearly marked, whether I could see them or not at the time. These are the paths such as taking a short term teaching position at my alma mater while a senior in college, which led to applying for Latin teaching positions after graduation. Other paths are ones that were not clearly marked, or where I took an unexpected turn, such as leaving schools in 2001, just as digital and connected learning was taking off on the Web, to run an outdoor education program that unplugged students in the wilderness.
It is with this distinction that I came to appreciate better the motto born in the wonderful, if mythologized, story of Hannibal crossing the Alps with his army. When all reasonable advisors warned that crossing those mountains with their elephants would be impossible, his reply was “Aut viam inveniam aut faciam.” “Either I will find a way or I will make one.”
And so this becomes the organizing metaphor for my professional artifacts: lessons learned from traveling the paths I have either found or I have made.
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