The path of least resistance

When recently in Canberra I visited the Australian National University (ANU) to meet  with a colleague and discuss the Moodle LMS upgrade we (USQ) are currently undertaking. Interesting though that was, albeit just run-of-the-mill stuff, one has to keep ones eyes open for the quirky stuff going on around you, for sometimes you come across a real gem (not always) and when you do it can bring some joy into what might otherwise be seen as mundane. At least it does for me 🙂

Shortcut at ANU

Take for example this picture. I took this while on the way to my appointment. We love to set out our preferred paths for people, the way we think life should be lived. The official path is logical and predictable and clearly conforms with someones plan, or blueprint, for how people should move around the campus. But in reality, this path is not necessarily practical. The students and probably the staff at ANU have found, over the years, that the path their forefathers had wanted them to follow (between the different buildings) was not the best path, not the most efficient or practical. So despite the possibility of getting ones shoes wet or dirty, people have preferred to exercise a level of discretion (some might suggest defiance) in creating for themselves another way of reaching the same goal.  Presumably, this would have driven the ground-staff mad over the years, but one suspects that they have probably come to terms with this by now, otherwise you would probably see barricades in place to try and stop people taking that shortcut.

So what should one make of this in terms of what we are establishing for others though and in our lives; particularly as lecturers and as academics? Are we stipulating the way things should be done because that is the most efficient way of doing it, or because it’s our preference. If the goal is ‘the end game’ does it matter which way we take to get there? A rhetorical question of course. The question should be rather, how do we capture the creative nature of this, particularly in relation to learning? The point is, we all have the power to create, to discover and to shape the world around us. We determine how we love people (or otherwise), how we respond to situations, rather than react. So the same drive that makes us want to buck the system and cut the corner can presumably also be used for good 🙂

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