Blessing for Work

I was greatly blessed at work. For most of the positions I held, I was the first person to hold the position. I had the opportunity to forge new paths and ways of doing things. Yes, I had several terrible bosses that cost my health for a bit. But many more were the bosses who taught and provided opportunities for growth. Most of the time I did not feel like a functionary simply filling in my time—like the protagonist in Franz Kafka’s eerie story of the man who turned into a cockroach over night.

Given an Irish and Welsh ancestry and vast eclectic reading habits, I don’t know how I missed John O’Donohue. Jerry Colonna introduced us in his book Reunion: Leadership and the Longing to Belong.

O’Donohue seems (although I haven’t found the document to study) to be the closest to my interpretation to the German philosopher GWFHegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit. That enough was enough of an enticement. But it his capture of the Celtic spirit that captivated me.

In the fourth chapter of Anam Cara (soul friend), he discusses work. And how modern work can be soulless robbing us of imagination and creativity. (He also references an early essay of Karl Marx about the alienation of the worker in modern industrial work. One of my favorites.)

With that long introduction, I will leave you with O’Donohue’s blessing for work.

May the light of your soul guide you.

May the light of your soul bless the work you do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.

May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.

May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light, and renewal to those who work with you and to those who see and receive your work.

John O’Donohue

Educating The Next Generation Worker

The publicist sent an early copy of a book for me to review– Wisdom Factory: AI, Games, and the Education of a Modern Worker by Tim Dasey, Ph.D. He is an MIT professor (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) thinking about the future of work.

Let’s consider some what if statements regarding current and future workers education requirements in order to contribute and thrive in the new workplace. I think both factory work and so-called knowledge work (there is no reason factory work shouldn’t also be called knowledge work, but that may be another argument for another time).

  • What if teaching detail knowledge isn’t the right objective?
  • What if student mental health problems are partly a symptom of school pressure and classroom mismatches with the real world?
  • What if students were set up to collaborate with AI rather than compete?
  • What if schools were wisdom factories rather than expertise factories?

Two underlying premises:

  • Wisdom is learned through experience.
  • The foundation of prosperity is education

In the genre of criticizing our education system and then suggesting alternatives, this book complements some other of my current reading such as from Seth Godin (see his blog and latest book The Song of Significance) and Range by David Epstein who discusses the success of generalists relative to specialists.

Considering the media hype about AI and Dasey’s background  working in AI, and that the book’s subtitle includes AI, you might think this is a book about AI. You would be wrong. Yet, he ties his work in artificial intelligence, role-playing games for strategic thinking, and studies in psychology to throw some ideas for improving how we train the next generation of workers.

He seemed almost apologetic about using term factory in his title (I’d bet that was a publisher decision) as well he should be. He’s definitely not talking about a traditional factory/assembly line model for future schools.

If you want some ideas to further your thinking about educating your next generation of team members, check out this book. I’ll be referring to it at times in my future writing.

beanz Magazine Expands Distribution, Reaches More Children in At-Risk Communities

Publisher Awarded Exclusive Google Ad Grant; Appeals for Donations to Reach Distribution Goals

This press release appeared in today’s email deluge. I’ve checked it out as much as I can. It appears to be worthy of consideration. Check it out and consider if you’d like to donate.

beanz, the award-winning magazine bringing educational and inspirational content about science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) to children, adults and teachers, is expanding its distribution to reach more children in at-risk communities.

Published by Kids Code & Computer Science, Inc, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, beanz is a community of teachers, technologists, and writers who love the challenge of exploring technology in ways kids enjoy and understand.

Beanz has received an exclusive ad grant from Google which is given to a select group of non-profit organizations who demonstrate a high level of value and integrity. In order to get a full year of beanz into the hands of more children, requests are being made for donations. Donors play a pivotal role in broadening kids’ access to STEAM education and digital literacy, regardless of their life circumstances. The magazine is also currently sent directly to schools and through which distributes free magazines throughout North America.

“We’re excited to expand beanz magazine distribution to kids in at-risk communities around the country, but can’t do it alone,” said Tim Slavin, Publisher. “In order to get beanz into the hands of more children, we need more support. Exposure to STEAM is proven to help kids develop problem-solving skills, encourages creativity and collaboration, and teaches technologies like coding,” he added.

For more information and to make a donation. If you’d like to apply to have your organization added to the distribution list, please send an email to [email protected].

About beanz

beanz is an award-winning magazine published by Kids Code & Computer Science, Inc, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit dedicated to inspiring kids with the endless opportunities of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM). beanz is a quirky, fun and thoughtful way to expose readers to STEAM concepts, programming, and issues around technology use. beanz follows many of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) curriculum guidelines and makes technology fun and easy to learn for kids ages 8+.

There are no ads on beanz. We rely on subscriptions and donations.

The Gentle Art of Asking Part Two

Quite by accident the second edition of “Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling,” by Edgar H. Schein and Peter A. Schein appeared in my mail the other day. Reviewing some older notes, I saw the recommendation. When this book arrived, I discovered I had the first edition on my bookshelf. The second edition was worth the refresher.

Do you know any long-time elementary school teachers? Ever listen to them? Do their questions sound often like a prosecuting attorney going after a criminal suspect?

Do we catch ourselves asking questions to test other people? Or questions where we wish to discover if they are for us or against us? Questions meant to trap us—like often were posed to Jesus in the Christian Bible?

The gentle art of asking questions instead of telling people reveals true curiosity. We want to know what someone else is thinking—really.

The gentle art draws people in rather than establishing a barrier between people. Its foundation includes trust, sincerity, mindfulness. I would add intention. 

So often we ask, but then we fail to listen to the answer. Listening, that is, that involves our complete attention.

I wrote about this book five years ago. It’s one of those books that requires a reread periodically. It’s brief. Readable. New insights will pop out each reading.

Digital Portal Enhances Individualized Learning Experiences

How about another take on digital transformation? Festo has made a great investment in education through Festo Didactic. While remote, digital learning has had mixed results for elementary and high school students, this tool for continuing education for professionals proves itself a valuable adjunct to hands-on training.

The company points to trends such as mobile, micro, adaptive, and virtual reality learning. To further these and other trends, Festo Didactic developed a digital learning portal – the Festo Learning Experience, or Festo LX – to make it easier to create individual learning experiences for trainers and trainees.

The premise in launching the portal is that in today’s industrial world, the knowledge and skills acquired to launch one’s career will not be enough. New technologies will emerge, changing job requirements and challenging employees and managers to keep current.

Digital enables a variety of learning experiences that can tap into individual learning styles.

In creating Festo LX, Festo Didactic realized that different learning tools, vehicles, and methods are required. Festo LX focuses on the growing need for more individualized learning. It provides modular resources for various technical training professions that can be individually assembled into courses and entire learning paths. Varied formats, such as videos, animations, simulations, and text units, ensure participants remain engaged. Existing courses can be modified as desired. New content in text, image, or video format can be easily added and assigned to the learners. Available online, independent of time and place, Festo LX fits in with the habits of young learners, who are well versed with technology such as smartphones or tablets.

One way to address the trainees of today is micro learning, where small, self-contained portions of knowledge are taught. Festo LX learning units are very short with a clearly defined learning goal. They can be grasped quickly and assembled in modules, so trainers and educators can address each learner’s needs from different starting points. Using smartphones or tablets, lessons can be taught any time of day from anywhere. Virtual reality and augmented reality can be incorporated into lessons. With VR glasses, a learner dives into a virtual learning world. Augmented reality folds in information via a scanned QR code.

Trainees can be catapulted into future roles via VR. Digital formats complement in-person, hands-on learning. The latter remains essential.

Check out how it works here.

Festo Didactic Takes Its Apprenticeship Program to the Next Level

Festo has made significant investments in education and training over the past few years in Mason, Ohio just outside of Cincinnati. This news notes the next step.

Festo Didactic Learning Systems North America and its partners announced plans for the Mechatronics Apprenticeship Program (MAP) at its Regional Service Center (RSC) in Mason with industry, education, and government coming together.

And a word from a graduate.

“Festo’s side of the apprenticeship provided an affordable, unique, hands-on approach to learning mechatronics. This program taught me the very basics of electrical power up to advanced industrial troubleshooting,” said former Festo Didactic Apprentice, Kenneth Bibb. “I was able to gain more learning and experience with Festo than I would have in a traditional four-year university. Festo has set my life up perfectly by providing the skills I needed through the apprenticeship to begin a successful Mechatronics Engineering career.”

The award-winning mechatronics program has been a growing collaboration among Art Metal Group, Clippard Instruments, E-Beam, MQ Automation, Nestlé, Festo Didactic, and others. At its core, MAP supports manufacturers locally and nationally in training and retaining skilled workers. Heading into its sixth year, MAP will begin accepting apprenticeships on a rolling admission basis instead of a semester schedule. The program will consist of 57 weeks of training instead of five semesters. This transition will allow for more apprentices to enroll faster, train faster, and get to work faster.

My grandfather launched a solid career in manufacturing through an apprenticeship program in the early 1900s. Companies stopped doing that for a long time. I’m happy to see a rebirth.

Nationwide, apprenticeship continues to experience strong growth. On September 1, 2022 the White House launched the Apprenticeship Ambassador Initiative—a national network of more than 200 employers and other organizations who signed on to create almost 500 hundred new registered apprenticeship programs. Through the new federal initiative, companies agreed to build new programs across a wide range of industries and to hire 10,000 new apprentices in the coming year. The Department of Labor also announced plans to invest over $330 million through grants to states, employers, labor organizations, and workforce intermediaries to expand and diversify Registered Apprenticeships.

According to, managed by the Department of Labor (DoL), 93% of apprentices who complete an apprenticeship retain employment, with an average annual salary of $77,000.

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