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How to be happy at school

While driving, I’ve been listening to a powerful audiobook called “The Dreaming Path” by Paul Callaghan and Uncle Paul Gordon.  I highly recommend.

The book warns about what they call “when then” thinking.  It calls out a misguided western thinking pattern about happiness and its dependence on certain events occurring first.

Examples include:

  • “When I get a nicer house, then I’ll be able to invite more people over.”
  • “When I get through this busy day, then I’ll be able to relax.”
  • “When I can afford that gym membership, then I’ll get fit.”
  • “When I get this crazy year over and done with, then I’ll spend some time with my family.”

What the authors are pointing out to us is that we’re making our happiness conditional on perfect timing.  As the circumstances are unlikely to ever be perfect, we’re therefore never likely to allow ourselves happiness.

We do this a lot in schools too:

  • “When I get these reports written, then I’ll be able to focus on designing some great classroom experiences for my students.”
  • “When I get staffing for next year sorted, then I’ll be able to invest some time in the staff we do have.”
  • “When the teacher shortage crisis is over, then I’ll be able to focus on quality teaching.”
  • “When things settle down a bit, then we might do some work on our school culture.”

Following The Dreaming Path in your school would be an act of balance.  Sure, recognise the circumstances of the day.  But never focus on them so intently that your personal power to take action on your school’s purpose, passion and culture are no longer in the picture.

There’s plenty of important work you … yes, you … can do now.

Ok, even a little will do.

Keep fighting that good fight,


PS. I’d love you to join me for a conversation next Thursday at 2pm (Melbourne time) about our students. About the changing landscape they are facing … and more importantly what to do about it. How can we best support this generation. It’s a free webinar, and it’s going to be fabulous. Hope to see you there. Register here.


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