One thing we are very good at in schools is planning. 5 year strategic plans, annual implementation plans, unit plans, lesson plans, floor plans, best laid plans. In such a highly planned world, it can be difficult to deviate, change the plan, abandon the plan and start a new one. We would love to be agile like the coolest start-up, have the legendary 20% time afforded to some Google employees to do with as we please (with the aim of improving the organisation), we would love to jump on every opportunity that passes before us, but doing so impacts on organisational health. We cannot take chances with the education of the children in our care, we must ensure that curriculum is covered and that exams are prepared for so opportunities pass, our agility arthritically stiffens and we stick to the safe and known.
But at what cost?
I try to balance my FOMO with my FOFU (for those of you not across modern acronymisation - FOMO is Fear Of Missing Out and I invented FOFU with my friend Suan over drinks - Fear Of F**king Up). I want to jump on opportunities for learners (and for myself and my family) but I sometimes have this nagging feeling in my guts of FOFU quashing my innovation and stopping me from going off piste. Take last week, Dr Grahame Rosolen a scientist who builds electron tunnelling microscopes was presenting to the students in ESV (the virtual science school of which I am Director) at the same time as I have Year 11 French. Now I had some highly important grammatical understanding to explore with my kids but it occurred to me this might be the only opportunity they will ever get to talk to a scientist doing this kind of work, so instead of the intricacies of adjectival agreement in French, we joined the virtual classroom and had our minds blown by the work this guy was doing in nano imaging and lithography. A small risk to take, but a wonderful outcome for all.
If FOFU had been greater than my FOMO, I would still be teaching in the north of England which, whilst being my spiritual home and filled with people I love dearly, does not afford me and my family the opportunities I have here living in Australia.
It is not a bad thing to have plans, indeed it is necessary, but we must not let plans get in the way of opportunities. Whilst too much FOMO can distract us from being mindful of the good things around us, it is sometimes a good thing to engage with our FOMO and let it push through our FOFU, taking us down otherwise unexplored paths into the world of opportunity knocking and serendipity. But don't forget to strap in for the ride.