In this edition:
✍🏼 Reflections - a grokkist's signature gift
🎙 Still Curious Podcast - new episode guides available
❤️🔥 Reimagine Education Project - what happens next?
🍬 Snackables - assorted awesome links
📩 Subscribe to get the Grokkist Scholé Supplement in your inbox every two weeks.
✍🏼 A grokkist's signature gift
A grokkist’s signature gift is synthesis – we make connections others don't.
Grokkists are good at synthesising because we go around busily collecting experiences, like birds finding materials to make a nest. We seek after, test out and fit together our experiences all the time.
We let our curiosity pull us down pathways to see where they go, and we enjoy the tiny brain explosions that occur whenever we find how something we found over here just now connects with something we'd forgotten about from earlier.
Synthesising all of the things is so natural and automatic for grokkists that we can often take this gift for granted, and consequently we can undervalue it.
It is not uncommon for a grokkist to walk into a new situation, be able to quickly size up how it works, understand what's going on and articulate it at a deeper level than those who have been immersed in it for a long time, to the amazement of those around.
Showing others the connections we've made brings great joy – this is why so many grokkists are drawn towards teaching and knowledge-sharing pathways.
But seeing things others don't is also lonely at times. Synthesis is so much a part of our way of being that we want to be seen and valued in all our multidimensional richness, and can feel flattened in a world that is organised for specialisation and predictability.
We can also get surprised and hurt when we discover that not everyone wants to know.
For others, grokkists can actually be quite frustrating to have around. We appear at first to be very fast, resourceful, productive and intelligent, so it is natural to project all sorts of other imagined qualities and expectations onto us.
Oops! People who make that mistake may later come to revise their view of us as high-functioning, yes, but also chaotic, unpredictable, undisciplined and withdrawn.
It's a confusing and frustrating cycle for others and for ourselves.
Worse, even though the gift of synthesis is the source of our economic value and the key to our productivity (we can go very fast because we’ve previously unlocked lots of shortcuts and fast travel checkpoints), it can fail us at times when we need it most, because a strength overextended can become a weakness.
Too much synthesising means grokkists can actually end up having trouble communicating to others what we see. We can often underexplain or overexplain our thinking, we might start in the middle of an idea leaving others guessing, or spend too long on preamble before getting to the point.
Others might find us unclear and hard to follow. At our worst, we can be cocky, arrogant and dismissive.
This happens because we are used to seeing how things connect. We can forget that connections that are obvious to us are not necessarily obvious to others.
Or we might know that people could be missing some connections, but we mistake which ones and end up leaving confusing gaps in logic while tediously lecturing people on things they already know.
Worse, we might be so used to seeing more connections than others that we fail to recognise and listen when it is we who are missing important connections that others have made. This kind of realisation can be humbling indeed.
Grokking, in its original literary sense, is understanding that transcends the need for traditional communication. So it is fitting that we grokkists should find the business of communicating what we have synthesised to be at once so urgent and yet so fraught with difficulty.
During a recent moment when my grokkiness was causing me to feel lonely, distant and alienated, a good friend reminded me that such alienation, while it sucks, is also itself evidence of a gift – the capacity to bring others towards making connections that might in some way restore their own balance.
A grokkist's signature gift is synthesis. Our unceasing capacity for making connections is what leads us to our highest highs and our lowest lows. To give thought to this truth is also to give thanks to it.
Reimagine Education ProjectVisit the Reimagine Education hub
A few months ago we released the Old School School music video, which entertainingly makes a case for why we need to reimagine education while also suggesting a direction of forward travel:
Redefine 'school', not a tool of the state
But a movement that arises from those who create
Whose mode of exchange isn't monetary wealth
But relationship and wisdom as an end in itself
The video currently has over 1.2 million views on TikTok and around 6,000 on YouTube, both fairly abstract and meaningless numbers that feel extremely detached from the lived effects of putting it out into the world (a lot like the citations vs impact dynamic in academia, for those tortured souls who are familiar with that space).
For me, some of those lived effects have been new friendships and connections, a dramatic upsurge in interesting people and projects turning up in my inbox and calendar, and some radical improvements to my self-understanding.
We held a symposium (i.e. a drinking party) to discuss the ideas in the video, which was a mood. Like many of those who attended the symposium have expressed in various ways, in that moment I too experienced a powerfully energising sense of discovery that I am on a shared journey that is bigger than me and in which I am not alone.
So, now what?
I would like Grokkist be an entry point for a Narnia-like experience of stepping through a doorway to another world in which education is reimagined and waiting to be explored.
To make this happen, one thing we need to do is map the space of people and organisations who are already doing amazing grokkist-friendly work in the reimagining education space.
More than a mere directory or 'resource', we need warm introductions and playful wayfinding affordances to help grokkists have fun exploring that space.
Another thing we need to do is partner with teaching-minded grokkists to design, create and host grokkist-first educational experiences. Grokkables, if you will (and even if you won’t).
Which of these is the main focus? Why, both of course! (you remember the tennis balls thing from last time, right?)
There is a fresh Reimagine Education section on the website and, as we go along, I’ll use this new section of the newsletter to share and announce the latest updates in our ongoing project to Reimagine Education.
Meanwhile, have a look at this cool graphic we made. In my experience, things start becoming more real as soon as they have a name and a visual language!
🎙Still Curious PodcastVisit the Podcast hub
The quality-of-life upgrade is still ongoing. The standalone stillcuriouspodcast.com website has now been decommissioned and all links now point to the new podcast hub on the Grokkist site. (This involved a small but time-consuming detour to grok the subtleties of 301 redirects, SSL and googlejuice when repointing website domains)
You can also now enjoy the following freshly reupholstered episode pages, complete with a full episode digest and audio highlights.
Assorted awesome links
I find teeth creepy. I used to live near a dentist whose mascot was a giant ominously-grinning tooth and that cartoon tooth had a mouth that also had teeth. NO. Anyway, Kelly Benes is a surrealist sculptor who creates oddities that have a lot of teeth and eyeballs in them. They're very good and also I hate them. Enjoy.
This one has come to me from multiple sources already so perhaps you've already seen it. Some folks have used AI voice generation to produce a podcast conversation that never happened. As is often the way with AI-generated work, the result is uncannily convincing while at the same time being mostly nonsense (could we say the same about a lot of human-generated work?) Listening to it made me realised how much I miss hearing Steve Jobs' voice. Will 'bringing voices from the past to life' become the new Spotify lo-fi ambient playlist?
A masterful, amusing and delightfully concise piece of thick description that goes right inside what the True American Diner experience is all about. If we pay close attention as this writer does, the seemingly mundane world around us can be a place of everyday wonder and understanding.
Each week, Sketchplanations takes a concept and explains it visually, with a useful bit of text commentary for context. This site has been going a long time in internet terms - since 2013. I remember it used to be a daily thing but the switch to weekly seems to have improved the quality. This 'sampling bias' one is one of my favourites.
Remember the last time you saw a government ad urging you to change some aspect of your behaviour and you did? Me neither (though I do retain much fondness for Melbourne's 'dumb ways to die' train safety video). 'Community-based social marketing' is a field that has sprung up around fostering sustainable behaviour that looks at how new social norms are actually adopted and diffused through the community in practice, while focusing on strategies for effective communication. One of the most useful parts of the website is a database of successful case studies from around the world. (Hat-tip to Emily McGill)