Build Your Spaceship


I’m rereading The Practice By Seth Godin, and I stumbled upon a piece of critical information that could help us as educators. Seth writes about how NASA engineers plan and design for space travel. He writes:

Everything has a function. Every element of the bridge or the spaceship is there for a reason, even if the reason is decorative. When NASA engineers put together the payload for an Apollo rocket, they had total clarity about tradeoffs. 

Everything weighs something, everything takes up space. Nothing goes on a lunar module unless there’s a really good reason. Intentional action demands a really good reason.  

There are a few words and phrases that stood out as I reread. I didn’t pick up on it in my first reading of the book. The first phrase is that the engineers “had total clarity about tradeoffs.” The second thought that hit me was having a “really good reason.” 

I’m not sure that as educators we are working under the conditions of total clarity. Sometimes, we think we have a really good reason, but often we are working toward our love for nostalgic practices that don’t belong in the payload. We need to be more intentional about our choices. We need to have an understanding of tradeoffs, and develop total clarity surrounding them. 

We can’t do everything in the classroom, and often when we try to, it’s everything that suffers. I’d rather make tradeoffs. “We can’t do this, but we are certainly going to include that, which is more important anyway.”

Total clarity. 

A really good reason. 

Intentional action.

Build your spaceship the right way.

Focus on what matters first.




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