Guest Post via @Clarksroom: Lessons from Pac-Man

Complete transparency here…I did not like playing Pac-Man as a kid. I just wasn’t a fan of it at all. I know I am supposed to think it is amazing as one of the founding video games, I just didn’t care for it much.

But looking back on it, I think there are a couple lessons we can really learn as educators from our little yellow circle friend.

Pac Man

  • Pac-Man was extremely focused on his goal.
  • Pac-Man was aggressive when it was smart to be aggressive.
  • Pac-Man had an amazing amount of perseverance.
  • Pac-Man kept it simple.

Pac-Man was extremely focused on his goal. His only purpose in life was to eat all the dots and not get killed by the ghosts. He was not created to do anything else, that is it. Many times as admin, we can get sidetracked with so many things [many that are good] that we lose site on our true goal. I cannot tell you what your goal is for you students, staff, school site, or career, but I am pretty confident that you have distractions. The more you can focus on your goal and lesson your distractions, the more effective you will be.

Pac-Man was aggressive when it was smart to be aggressive. He had a goal that was not a quick task and he had opposition, but the slow-play was sometimes the best. Pac-Man did not try to eat a ghost when they were not blinking. He knew this would not end well. But when it was time to go after them, he did. As an admin, you cannot always go full tilt after a goal/initiative/idea. It just doesn’t work that way. There are times when the slow play makes much more sense, and in the long term is more effective. I think the main reason for this is we are in an industry driven by and for people, and people resist change. Be aggressive towards your goal when it is smart to do so.

Pac-Man had an amazing amount of perseverance. This little yellow circle guy has one task, eat all the dots, and yet there are these ghosts trying to eat him. Why, who knows, but they are. There is technically no end to Pac-Man even though a glitch makes is so the game does end, so Pac-Man is in a never-ending maze of dots with ghosts trying to eat him and he just keeps going. I can promise you this if you are an admin or are thinking of becoming one, IT NEVER STOPS! The average person makes 35,000 decisions a day (most be small decisions), speaks 16,000 words per day, and walks 5200 steps per day. Various research has show educators make anywhere from 1500 to 5000 extra decisions a day depending on their role and use more than 30,000 words per day. Personally, I hit 12,000 to 18,000 steps most days. The point is you will be very busy and need to persevere in order to be effective.

Pac-Man kept it simple. Pac-Man is a round circle, trying to eat dots in a maze. It is not rocket science, yet there is something very alluring about the simplicity. I know the longer I have been an admin, the more I have tried to simplify, the better I have become at my role. People do not like things that are complex, so the fact is the more you can simplify for your staff, the more effective they can be.

Keep chasing your dots like our little yellow friend.

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