When a great adventure is offered, you don’t refuse it.
I’ve been enjoying the book Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau, about the joy that comes in life from quests. Guillebeau set out to visit every country in the world, and he accomplished his goal while he was still in his mid-30s. He isn’t a wealthy guy, and the book chronicles nights spent sleeping on airport floors in third-world countries and the deep anxiety of visiting unsafe countries where westerners weren’t welcome. He also shares other stories of ordinary people with extraordinary quests.
The quests can often involve travel. My two sisters are on a quest to bike in each of the 50 states together. Guillebeau writes movingly of a woman with a terminal cancer diagnosis who set out to view more species of birds across the world than anyone had ever seen. But a quest doesn’t have to take you far from home — one of the questers in Guillebeau’s book set out to cook an authentic meal from every cuisine in the world, all within the confines of her suburban Colorado home.
The book reminded me that kids aren’t only natural-born questioners — they also love quests. Childhood reading provides a kind of scaffold for the bigger quests children might face down the road. All around us there are children who are right now memorizing dozens of stats for their favorite baseball or hockey team. When I was nine, I fulfilled my quest of reading a whole wall of children’s books about the presidents at the town library (just because it was there I guess).
Maybe we shouldn’t be too concerned when a child is on a quest to read every book in a series (even when there are 47 of them), or a book that is far over their reading level because it is a favorite of friends. A quest isn’t just an item on a bucket list — it’s something that requires planning, sacrifice, and often a bit of risk. And aren’t those all elements of reading beyond your comfort zone, with goals or texts that are a little bit daunting?
I am not on a quest at the moment, but I want to find one. I’m using the questions Guillebeau provides as a starting point for finding one:
What excites you?
What bothers you?
If you could do anything at all without regard to time or money, what would it be?
I am taking my time finding a quest — or maybe I’m letting one find me.
This week we look at goals. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
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Here are two features from the archives on goals for teachers and students:
Katie Doherty considers goals for book clubs in Assessing Learning During Student-Led Book Clubs:
Ruth Ayres writes about being kind to yourself and realistic in On Perfection and Goals:
Make goals in your classroom SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely) by using this advice from Maurice Elias at Edutopia:
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Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris have a fresh take on goals in New Words for the New Year:
In this week’s video, Leslie Lloyd begins an anchor lesson by setting a goal with her third graders. This is the first video in a four-part series:
If your goal is to get teens more excited about independent reading, Gretchen Schroeder has suggestions for How to Get a Book to Catch Fire:
That’s all for this week!