Most of us have seen youngsters playing with a colorful plastic dome that begins and ends in a relatively small size and expands to a much larger size.  This is a Hoberman sphere: an isokinetic structure patented by Chuck Hoberman that is capable of folding down to its normal size by the scissor-like action of its joints.

I am not sure what isokinetic means, and sure I can look it up, but what is important is the ability for a structure to be flexible and consistent at the same time.

I have used various sized Hobermans in professional development for years to represent how we can start small and think big, how we can examine connections in our relationships, how we can create a size of the structure comfortable to everyone, how we stretch ourselves and explore the outer regions of our work, how we can expand our thinking and how we can be creative identifying various uses of the sphere.  Allowing us to find multiple applications for using the sphere figuratively and literally to demonstrate the relevance of corresponding activities.

It is the type of structure that once in your hands demands play: expanding – contrasting – expanding – contrasting – and so on.

The hoberman serves as a framework for living our lives.  It demonstrates how the diverse parts of our lives are hinged together.  I am reminded of the work of Ernest Boyer and his advocacy for not leading a “divided life.”  That is not to allow our lives to be segmented into family, work, education, politics, religious and economic but be guided by a core set of values that remain consistent throughout our lives.  Far too often we allow ourselves to be defined by one part of our lives that may not be complementary to other elements.  For example, being honest and fair at home but choosing to focus on “win at all costs” at work.

Using the Hoberman framework forces us to ensure our attitudes and behaviors are connected and consistent so that our lives are not divided but congruent.  This does not mean a boring life in fact our internal connectedness allows others to depend on us.  This does not mean a life lacking improvement in fact it demands that we examine our experiences and continue to expand our knowledge, skills and dispositions.  This does not mean an unexciting life in fact it allows us time to expand (take risks) and time to contrast (reflect).

A life connected, a life well hinged and a life based on a core set of values that guide our attitudes and behaviors to me is an excellent road map to happiness.

Terry Pickeral
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Terry Pickeral

Terry Pickeral, has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations, evaluation and civic development. His commitment is to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens.
Terry Pickeral
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