What or How – which would you choose?


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Today I was asked the question about which I thought was more important, what work I do or how I go about it? This made me reflect on some of the challenges that I have been faced with in education. Whether it be teaching music, business studies, organising reports or developing timetables, I am not sure they were all things that if I had my way I would have necessarily chosen. However, I did each of them to the best of my ability. What mattered more to me though was how I went about it. Whether it be creating a environment of inquiry when investigating business or given the autonomy to develop solutions that are inevitable when forming timetables.

Interestingly, Simon Sinek captures this conundrum, suggesting that what matters least in. He instead argues that how we go about what we do is far more important. However, what matters most is why we do what we do. In regards to education, this why is discussed by Gert Biesta in his investigation of a good education.

I will finish with a quote from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, which I have just started reading on the recommendation of a colleague:

“Inside-out” means to start first with self; even more fundamentally, to start with the most inside part of self—with your paradigms, your character, and your motives. It says if you want to have a happy marriage, be the kind of person who generates positive energy and sidesteps negative energy rather than empowering it. If you want to have a more pleasant, cooperative teenager, be a more understanding, empathic, consistent, loving parent. If you want to have more freedom, more latitude in your job, be a more responsible, a more helpful, a more contributing employee. If you want to be trusted, be trustworthy. If you want the secondary greatness of recognized talent, focus first on primary greatness of character.

To me what Covey is touching on is that to deal with the what, whether it be marriage, parenting or being an employee, then you need to firstly deal with the how and why.

It is interesting when different people responding to disparate ideas come to the same conclusion.


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Aaron Davis

I am an Australian educator supporting schools with the integration of technology and pedagogical innovation. I have an interest in how together we can work to make a better world.

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What or How – which would you choose? by Aaron Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

7 thoughts on “What or How – which would you choose?

  1. Hi Aaron, we are not necessarily in control of our circumstances but we are in control of how we respond to them. The attitude we carry with us affects all around us. We can’t always avoid negative people but we can do our best not to let them get to us. Timely post at this time of year fraught with deadlines and changes

    1. Thank you Anne for the reply. We can get so caught up at times that we lose sight as to what is and is not within our control. I really like how you put it.

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