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Engagement is Everything!

July 6, 2009

If you’re itching for a ‘think’, step forward. We’re about to take a bit of a stroll around the barn, but there is a point to it, so please bear with me… and let us stroll. This is about education… it’s about methodology… it’s about research… it’s about measuring the immeasurable… and it’s about taking responsibility for one’s own journey. Be forewarned. I’m about to step up on to my favourite soapbox, and will not easily be knocked down.

Since 1986, I’ve been conducting comprehensive, large-scale surveys. For the past decade, this work has focused exclusively on independent (private) schools all over North America, and some beyond. From 80 different schools, I’ve conducted more than 200 surveys involving data from about 100,000 people, and more than 100 questions per record. I just love data. I mention this only that you may understand that I am in possession of wagonloads on the subject about which I write today – engagement and education. Suffice to say that I am comfortable with the subject matter. Education is my passion… and in my view, engagement is the primary key to education.

Just so you understand that I haven’t gotten lost in the back forty, sittin’ along ‘side Jim Stafford on some ole sack o’ seeds (if you’re under the age of 45, you may have to Google that one… nah, here it is for you), I’ll say that this subject matter bears directly on my efforts (and, I hope, your own) in wading through the junior resource investment marketplace.

My efforts in this work have been structured to identify target data, to develop the means to effectively gather that data, to organize, dissect, and analyse the data, and to interpret results into a readable form for improved decision making by others.

It is my observation that decision makers naturally focus on elements which they best understand. As a result, they dwell on elements more easily measured. When all you’ve got is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. In turn, those elements not so easily measured are too often skipped over. Being difficult to measure has unfortunately been functionally reduced to being less important. In my view, this is among the most grievous errors in any decision making process. We must actively seek out measures of what is important, but traditionally thought to be immeasurable.

In an age where our children can expect to wander through as many as six or seven careers, their needs for social and relational skills, and learning skills, will be much more pronounced than ever before. The needs to engage with other people, and to learn how to learn, and to learn to love learning, will require them to identify and acquire new skills until they are lowered into their graves (for me, this is a point of celebration, no less). Stop learning… stop living, I say.

Here’s the most profound thing I’ve learned from studying all this data. One of the most critical elements in a good education is too often overlooked because it’s deemed too difficult to measure (and you won’t likely find it on a report card). The impact of being actively engaged within a community has a profound impact on the development of social, relational, and learning skills. Those who engage themselves with other people in shared efforts toward a common goal are always more satisfied. They find purpose both inside and outside of themselves. They contribute more because they want to contribute more. They are more successful. They are happier people, and society is better for it. I believe this to be true in every walk of life. People are engaged when they take responsibility both for their own well being and in spite of our system of education, that of others. They believe that they can make a difference in the world, and are not willing to cede control of their own lives to others.

Life is not just what happens to us. It’s what we do about what happens to us. The bottom line? Do not allow others to control your personal professional development program. Find and feed your passion. It’s yours. Take charge of it and control your own destiny. If you don’t, be assured. Somebody else will.

This is about never-ending education. As Einstein said, "Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school." It’s about rigorous and evolving methodology… it’s about constant research… it’s about finding ways to measure things thought to be immeasurable… it’s about sharing with others, and taking responsibility for one’s own journey. From the beginning to the ending, it’s about engagement, and of course, engagement is everything. I invite and encourage you to join me on a journey. If this web site works, it’s not mine. It’s yours.


Kevin Graham

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