Joyful Sandboxes

Joyful sandboxes are learning experiences, led by our curiosity, in which we rekindle the innate joy of discovery.

One evening, with beers in our hands, we were reflecting on our journey. At the table with us was Ward Cunningham, one of the original signers of the Agile Manifesto.

We were exploring parallels between the experiences in Dayton with the experiences that he and Kent Beck had when they were working together at Tektronix back in the mid-eighties – experiences that were instrumental in the development of Agile.

What were we to call that shared experience that bound together different communities and different times?

And then Jami named it: 'the joyful sandbox'. I looked over at Ward and his eyes lit up. Yes, that is what he was experiencing with Kent as they experimented with pair programming using a new language called Smalltalk. That experience which became the catalyst for a profound transformation in the software industry and beyond.

Our society has foisted on us two great fallacies. One is that we do not have, each and every one of us, genius. Genius, by its original Latin definition, means innate spirit. We all have a unique and beautiful innate spirit. We all have genius. It is the gift that we are bringing to the world that gives our life meaning.

The second fallacy is that we don’t deserve joy. For far too many, to become an adult implies that we must discard joy and struggle through a world in a quest simply to survive. For far too many, a joyless journey.

But to thrive and to become whole, we must Claim the Joy. For our children, for us. For our co-workers. For our friends. For strangers.

Educators can understand, within seconds, if there is true learning happening in a classroom. They don’t need to look at the test scores, they know it by the eyes. Do they see joy?

When visitors walked into Dayton, they could see that the learning was real. They felt the joy. They sensed the joyful sandbox. Joy Matters.

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