Be Your Own Hero

Nilofer Merchant, Harvard Business Review, Nov 04, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

There's a phrase I've cited before from the television series Andromeda: "Every man is the hero of his own story." (*) I think that perhaps due to my own background I took this statement to heart. The books that I read - everything from Twain to Stevenson to Verne to Asimov - led me to imagine myself as the hero, the central character in all of these stories, taking risks, figuring things out, making things happen. The hero of my own story. I don't see that represented so much today; in contemporary media I see the other represented as the hero, and the story told from the point of view of the everyman waiting for the hero to arrive (there are some exceptions: the Star Trek stories, say, or Sherlock Holmes). It's a subtle thing. Anyhow. As this article says, we need to be our own heroes. That's what I love about well-designed games for learning: you are the hero, you are the actor, you make things happen. And that's why I think that traditional education, which is designed to encourage passivity, is so damaging. (*) p.s. I stayed with the gender-specific version because the meaning of the phrase is contained in its reference to a specific person, a specificity that is lost when the gender is neutralized. Readers should obviously feed free to substitute "Every woman is the hero of her own story."
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