Day 179 (of 187) the secret structure within chaos
There were times when I used to say “it’s time to embrace chaos”. Often this would be during”unstructured” times such as passion projects (aka geniushour) days of play, athletic days and “fun days”. But when done right, I find myself like a duck – what you see may be pretty calm and steady but what you don’t see is moving a hundred kilometres an hour. But I’ve also found my mindset shifting from “embracing chaos” to “trusting the process” – because even chaos has its own rules.
As scientist Ian Malcolm has said, “You think things are gonna turn out differently, huh? Well the ones before you did, too – because they believed that they were in control.” Control of events and days are in the hands of all participants, not just one or two…so there are a lot of moving parts….For me, the bigger takeaway from chaos theory is not just “can you do it” but should you do it” (as well as: should you keep doing it)?
In truth, chaos theory is a form of mathematics (shout-out to @mathgarden) that finds patterns that have a variance based on initial starting point conditions. It is fascinating in so many ways. The first step down the rabbit hole? To the Wikipedia machine: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory
But in a simple way, you may know the conditions, but you can’t predict what precisely will happen. Friday was Fun Day. A break into school house teams and a series of “competitions” where enthusiasm is as important as competition. Actually collaboration is the most important as the “stations” are events in which the teams cooperate to earn points or complete a challenge (love the “plug the bucket that has holes in it as a teammate adds water” game). 21 stations. 3 house teams broken into 7 sub-groups and no chance to get to every activity.
But no problems. Even with the sun. Enough water (and watermelon) breaks definitely help. But the opening flag, bike and team parade was fun. The cheers were great and the team dancing was fabulous. And the scoring? Kind of like Who’s Line Is It Anyway…there are “points” but….
Even the afternoon had differently competitive events: the bike races were about who could go slowest (without touching the ground) and the tug of war was in three directions! So it was interesting seeing how he subtle structures that existed (food water and a wonder about “what’s next”) linked with the work many of us did all week to help prepare some of our learners who react….unpredictably (and not always in bad ways!) when there is a jolt to their routine – essentially helping them be ready to “expect the unexpected” and survive.
Parents were everywhere – as spectators as well as running stations. Staff were everywhere – running stations and helping individuals. Because it wasn’t a perfect day – the heat had a couple students ask their parents to go home early…which they did. But as I was doing “my job” – circling and checking where I was needed…I wasn’t needed when and where I thought I would (which follows chaos theory) but was able to use my “announcer voice” to help give some reminders when we updated points through the day.
Fun day was truly fun. And often they can be stressful. They can be competitive. And we did have a “winning team” that legitimately had the most points through the day (probably 😇) but everyone ended with smiles. But it is amazing when so many people “step up” and continue ongoing events and activities with a smile and a laugh (we did make sure our pregnant staffmember had extra breaks!) and a willingness to do a station multiple times with a new group every 8 minutes…and still be willing to have a “debrief meeting” afterwards…offsite…😎.
Chaos is not always a bad thing. Gotta embrace it….and trust it…good things can happen…not just…