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‘The Freelancer’s Manifesto’ Is Something Every Student Should Know


‘The Freelancer’s Manifesto’ Is Something Every Student Should Know

by Terry Heick

Someone once told me–and I wish I could remember who–that to either build my dreams, or that someone would pay me to build theirs, and few things have driven me more as a professional than that idea.

It is in that same light that James Shelley’s  short and sweet and wonderful ‘Freelance Manifesto’ seems created. Many of the ideas will fly in the face of traditional ‘work ethic’, where Bill Gates will tell you that no one is too good to flip burgers, or your dad (or my mom) may tell you to ‘just be lucky you have a job.’

And while there is truth to both of these ideas, these are increasingly dated ideas, residue from corporate-based imperialism where greed is shrugged off as ‘smart business’ and the destruction of the health of communities and essential human expression is considered the ‘price to pay’ to ‘have a good job.’

The changing landscape of work is something that’s woefully under-examined in education, and is an issue larger than this post. We’ve taken a look at the concept of ‘good work’ in the past, a topic that Howard Gardner has also written about as well.

For now, consider the following concept of ‘freelancing’–working for yourself to do things that matter to you with your own standards for quality. How can you help students develop a vision for what this might look like, and if you were successful, what impact could it have on the arc of their life?

‘The Freelancer’s Manifesto’

“I will not settle with being paid to tell someone else’s message to the world.

I will not sell my time to make money for somebody else.

I will define quality and execute excellence more ruthlessly than any boss could even imagine.

I will leverage my freedom for the advancement of my art, taking advantage of my creative mobility to eclipse the corporate metrics of efficiency and effectiveness.

I will transcend the ceiling of cubicle networking in order to surround myself with a robust team of coworkers who genuinely inspire one another (and who are also cleverly disguised as friends who simply enjoy being together).

I will measure life and work with valuations that go beyond the fiscal and monetary: my criteria shall also measure autonomy, creativity, time, family, peace and happiness.

Life holds too much opportunity to warrant settling for the predictable. Life is too short to spend it on the known and comfortable.”

‘The Freelancer’s Manifesto’ Is Something Every Student Should Know