Generating ideas for 20% Time projects is always tricky. Many times kids just grab onto the first idea they come up with and don't put much thought into how they will sustain it all year long. That's why we have put a lot of time into idea generation this year. We want the kids to work through the first impulse ideas and move on to something they can really sink their teeth into. Most kids have been really successful in coming up with ideas and all of them are based on their natural curiosity and interests. Jimmy was having trouble coming up with an idea and, when asked, he said, "I'm having anxiety about it."
"If you didn't have to come to school, what would you do all day?" I asked.
"Lay on the couch and sleep," he replied.
"That gets old after a while. What would you do after a few days of that?" I asked.
"Play hockey with my friend," Jimmy said.
"I know you're into sports. Is hockey the sport you're into the most?" I pressed.
"No, football. Well, and baseball. Football first, then baseball," he said.
"So if your project could deal with some aspect of football and baseball, you'd be into that?" I asked.
Jimmy went on to talk about Fantasy Football, how he spends hours pouring over players and stats to assemble his team. He pulled out his phone and read off his roster to me. It was pretty impressive. I asked if he was thinking of doing anything like that. He said that he'd love to be a General Manager of an NFL team. I introduced him to the old Street and Smith magazines (the sports yearbooks), explained the concepts of those magazines to him, and asked if he's like to do something like that. The concept of those magazines is to write analyses of each NFL team, critiquing the offense, defense and special teams of each team, predicting finishes for the year and suggesting personnel moves. He said, "That doesn't sound like work. That sounds like fun." What Jimmy, and most kids, don't understand, is that the most rewarding work always seems like fun. Those of us who find themselves in the most rewarding jobs always think of them as "fun" and not drudgery.
For his project, Jimmy will put together, based on his evaluation of each NFL and National League baseball team, a "magazine" site analyzing each team's strengths, weaknesses and personnel needs. I am eager to see how he approaches this project and carries it out. He is excited about it, and I am excited to see what he does with it. - Don