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REFLECTIONS ON EARNEST BOYER'S
WORK COMMONALITY
by Robert Erlandson

Ernest Boyer’s sixth Human Commonality is work. Boyer quotes Thoreau, we both “live” and “get a living.” Boyer takes a broad view of work. In particular, when he addresses a craftsman’s pride of work, he speaks to the tight coupling between living and making a living. He further comments on how differently “work” is viewed and varies among cultures. For the purpose of this theme I choose to consider this broader spectrum of work and living.

How people experience work with respect to their life is central. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Dr. C, as many refer to him) wrote a definitive book titled Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Harper and Row 1990). Quoting Dr. C, flow is “the zone — that almost magical state of mind where you become completely absorbed in something very challenging, but possible.” It is possible to achieve flow in all aspects of life, from hobbies to, yes, work.

People say a child’s play is their “work” this is true but it is also true that children are often forced to work in desperate conditions. If work and one’s life are oppressive, survival is the goal, a very different experience than flow. It is relevant, in light of the pandemic, to consider how people experience work pressures, working in quarantine or being unemployed. The haiga I have submitted “flow” from such accumulated life and work experiences.

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Robert Erlandson is a Professor Emeritus in the College of Engineering, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. He has published his haiku, tanka and haiga in HaigaonlineDaily HaigaCattailsRibbons, and Prune Juice. Many of his haiga images are digitally created fractal patterns. He has also published AWE, a chapbook of poetry and images speaking to the incredible relationships between nature, art, mathematics, and science. More information of his fractal art and writings can be found on his website, Circle Publications.

Editor's Note: Boyer's "The Educated Person" was published in the 1995 Yearbook of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. It may be downloaded through the Mid-Atlantic Association of IB (International Baccalaureate) World Schools.