Saturday, June 28, 2014

Audacity and Iteration and Field Testing

My life reminds me of a big ship.   It takes a little while for the momentum to shift when I try to change something.    And as with a voyage, you need a destination and a map, but you also need to act in the moment, to adjust to the inevitable things that come up.   Your plan or map can never be perfect on its own -- it's a tool among others for a successful voyage.  

A few months ago I reread a book called Getting Results the Agile Way and something that the book called "iteration"    When you are developing something you plan it and then field-test it.  The field-testing shows you where you need to make adjustments, so back to the drawing board with the new information, then back to field-testing again.

I've always had trouble getting from plans to daily life, and part of this is because my plans never work out the way I intended them to.     I thought this was because I was bad either at planning or at implementing, or both.  This is why the iteration cycle idea made an impression on me.  Basically it is saying that this disparity between the "best laid plans of mice and men" and the reality is a totally natural one and a healthy one, as well.     It is simply part of the process.    

Maximilian Kolbe says it another way:  "Preparation -- Action  -- Conclusion."  

This has had a good effect on my homeschooling, because it makes field-testing into an experiment rather than a performance evaluation.   In other words, the planning isn't the main event -- teaching is.    My planning doesn't have to be perfect -- it's a preliminary -- it's meant to be just the first step in a cycle that will involve replanning and flexing.     That probably seems really obvious to a lot of people, but it has been helpful to me because it rebalances my perfectionism.  

Every art or science or skill development involves a series of mistakes from which you learn.     My husband and I (and Paddy) are watching a series of lectures on the Hubble telescope.     You see again and again that the errors or incomplete discoveries of the earlier stages lay the groundwork for and advance the possibility of the next discovery.    It's like a series of doors, or like one of those quest type stories or computer games.

You even see this in the lives of the saints, especially the ones that have a conversion experience.   They road-test various things (under the guidance of grace, of course) and they emerge into what they are to become.     It reminds me of that story of the men given the talents by their master.   An element of risk-taking, of laying down something for a purpose, seems to be worthy, while playing it utterly safe and preserving what you have doesn't seem to be recommended by the parable.

Audacity has traditionally been considered a human virtue in this regard, defined as:

the habit of reaching out with prudence and great passion to attain a genuine good.
So it's not recklessness or impulsiveness, it assumes a sensible attitude and approach, but it takes your whole self and it's for something important.   I like that definition.


  1. Hi Willa! Boy, I naturally love planning but seldom does it truly transition into real life. That has been a stumbling block all my homeschool years. You always have such an original take on things! Thank you!

  2. Iteration was also such a helpful concept for me when I read that book (after your recommendation!). It made me feel like much less of a failure when I inevitably tweak and alter as I go because I can't help myself. :)

    I love reading your musings; thanks for starting again.


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