Do meaningful work

Central to the attraction of education as a form of work is the joy that we experience when we see another person grow. Joy is one of the feelings that our organisms have that give us information about the world in which we are embedded – fear, anger, sadness and disgust – are the others.


Joy is a general relaxation of the muscles throughout the body and is the organism saying: “you are in the right place, doing the right thing, you can relax”. We experience joy when we are doing exactly what we should be doing, and being instrumental in another’s growth is just that.

Joy is also associated with courage. Courage is when we do what we believe is right despite – despite what people might say,despite the consequences, despite it being not what we were planning to do, despite our own anxieties.

Saying that projects need to be engaging and meaningful means they need to bring us joy. In other words, our organisms need to feel that we are doing the right thing, in the right place and despite the things that might be preventing us from doing it.

Most of our working day may be routine but we need a proportion to bring us joy. As teachers we can do that with individuals when we help them to grow.

As leaders we can do that when we help a team grow and achieve something that none would have thought possible, or even have thought about, before the leader’s initiative.

John Corrigan