Some time ago Seth Godin wrote a very concise and powerful post on the appreciation of the “trail of magic” a student produces in her career (from No direction home).
Can you show me a history of generous, talented, extraordinary side projects?
Have you ever been so passionate about your work that you’ve gone in through the side door?
Are you an expert at something that actually generates value?
Have you connected with leaders in the field in moments when you weren’t actually looking for a job?
Does your reputation speak for itself?
Where online can I see the trail of magic you regularly create?
Alas, famous colleges and the industrial-education process rarely bother to encourage this. [my bold]
No extra words are needed, I think. I love the metaphor because looking at all the work students do within their formal education means getting in awe at the passion, quality and depth of the worlds they try to share.
This resounds deeply with Gardner Campbell’s idea of Wisdom as a teaching outcome (see his Understanding and Learning Outcomes), and of course, with the academic portfolio. The beauty of a portfolio of self expression through Domains of One’s Own is that each students owns (at least, rents!) the space through which he publishes. Thus, a portfolio does not stay put in some Dean’s archive, but acquires a life of its own. Which means the trail of magic goes with (and beyond) the student.