Transparency

Based on the sheer abundance of ideas that came out of today’s session with Will Richardson at Science Leadership Academy, I apologize in advance if this post goes wildly off topic. The main reasons I traveled to Philadelphia for the day were inspiration and curiosity; both were pronouncedly satisfied and yet piqued beyond what I had expected.

A while ago, I had clipped some segments off of David Warlick’s blog about the term “transparency” and how using Web 2.0 technologies allowed our schools to become open not only to the parents of the students involved in the learning, nor the community in which the school exists, but also the world at large.

The business world has always had some good examples of companies that were transparent and authentic with their customers, but there would likely be agreement these were too few and far between. …There is no doubt that the technologies we call Web 2.0 have both required and produced transparency and authenticity. Blogging, especially, by its very nature, helps create transparency and authenticity–both for ourselves in our own thinking processes (see this thread on Will Richardson’s blog), and for our organizations. This is why true blogging is so hard for companies that don’t have an open culture.

What is it that we would want to hide in our schools? Making our schools transparent to the world at large will only serve, as Will discussed today, to allow our students and teachers alike access to more teachers. The world is full of “teachable moments” as we like to say in our profession, and we must seek them out in order to give students of the 21st Century the tools they need to succeed in the emerging economies.

I look at the staff I work with at both schools, and I can’t wait to take what they do to the transparent level. Whether that is through blogging with them or whatever medium they become comfortable with, I don’t really care yet. What challenges me is the idea that we are able to teach them the ways in which to bring their students into the realm where they already exist, yet I haven’t started to make a dent yet.

Chris Sessum’s blog recently included the following:

Many schools operate out of fear of their constituencies and stakeholders. Many schools are afraid what the public would say if they knew what was going on inside.

This, from my own experience, is not what is happening. Becoming open to the world involves some serious soul-searching and expiation, and the fear of revealing what is going on inside the walls of schools is not what is inhibiting. Rather, shifting the paradigm in which a school has forever existed, and further, in which a teacher has always existed, is a groundbreaking move. As much as we embrace it, we have to be mindful that people need to be reassured that they will not be hurt in some way in the process.

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