Langniappe, eudaimonia, and googliness. My whirlwind adventure to the Google for Education Innovators Academy in London can be summed up by these three words.
Langniappe – a little something extra, a special gift or a bonus.
Before leaving for London, the Google for Education team sent each of the 36 Innovators, from around the world, a mysterious package. Once the first Innovator received his package and posted a picture on our Google Hangout, we all waiting with baited breath to receive ours. Within a week, most packages had been opened and the list of questions were growing. 36 strangers very quickly united to solve a complex and multi-step puzzle. It was an ice-breaker extraordinaire!
This little challenge drew us in, brought us together, and added an element of excitement and anticipation prior to meeting.
At the Google office, there was evidence of lagniappe everywhere you turned, including our badges, which highlighted our profile pictures and a motivational quote. My favourite extra is embedded into Google’s philosophy of innovative thinking and is expressed in the delicious and satisfying way of amazing meals and always being within 150 feet of a stocked mini kitchen. Why is this innovative, you might ask? Like the flexible common spaces, the 20% time, and the Googler to Googler learning opportunities, the mini-kitchen is a way to bring people together, and inspire creativity through well-being and happiness.
Bringing me to my next word.
Eudaimonia – Greek word commonly translated as happiness or welfare; however, “human flourishing” has been proposed as a more accurate translation.
I came across this word while reading The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor and feel that it appropriatly encomapsses my current journey. Working towards my Innovators certificate challenged me to stretch my thinking. Stretching my thinking, challenged me to take risks, taking risks challenged me to accept failure and failing challenged me to fail forward. I have never felt more fulfilled, accomplished, or happy in my professional career than I do now. I feel that I am flourishing as an educator and have gained a community of learners who will share their eudaimonia with me.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), there is no one clear definition of what this means, but I’ll share my understanding. It’s lagniappe and eudaimonia combined with a bias to take action, empathy, proactiveness and building an improved experience for others, all while having fun. It’s built into the Google culture and was intentionally added into our Innovator experience. The element of googliness makes my time in London more memorable, but harder to define. So, I’ll end with this – becoming a Google for Education Certified Innovator was an extraordinary experience that was more than creating an innovative project, meeting new people, and being at Google. It’s the undefinable, the blank space, the possibilities, and the opportunities to spark ideas and make a difference and surprisingly, it had very little to do with using technology.