Monday, January 21, 2019


stux via Pixabay
I am up to my ears in syllabi -- or at least that's how it feels. I've been at this teaching/syllabus creation gig for long enough that this whole process should be easier -- or at least less time-consuming -- but I'm a tinkerer. And today, I spent nearly the whole day tinkering.

I can't leave well enough alone.

Tinkerers hang out at the crossroads of creativity and perfectionism. We love the process of coming up with something new and we're also good at finding flaws in the fabric of perfectly serviceable plans. Rather than simply bemoaning these less-than-perfect places, we see them as spots where we can put our creativity to use. What if I tweak this assignment just a little? What if I change the wording of this description? What if I rethink the value of this paper?

It's the what-ifs that lead us down the tinkering path.

The problem is, the path goes on forever.

geralt via Pixabay

At some point, we have to stop tinkering, but this is a delicate maneuver. In the process of tinkering, we often take things apart and we can't stop tinkering until we've put them back together. Once we've started tinkering, the old way no longer works, but it takes time to get the new way just where we want it.

Which is how I find myself writing this post at nearly 7 PM after a full day of tinkering.

I'm happy to say that one syllabus has been sent to the printer and so it has to be finished. The second and third, identical except for a due date or two, are ready for what I hope is their final read-through. I'm optimistic that this is actually the final read-through, not the third-from-final read-through in which I'll make a few more changes.

Y'know. Just one more thing, which has a tendency to turn into two or three or six more things.

Pexels via Pixabay
Tinkering is useful -- to a point. Beyond that point, it becomes something else, something tinged with perfectionism and obsession that leads us farther down the tinkering path than we really need to travel.

I believe I've found a good stopping point on the tinkering path -- one where the final product looks better than the original, even if it isn't perfect. One where I've traveled just far enough down the path. to have created a "just right" plan. Later this evening, after I've let the new plan breathe before the next read-through, I'll know for sure.

Wish me luck.

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