Among the other things that my Uncle Bill and I talked about was the need for everyone involved in changing processes within their organization to have a “territory,” or in our case, some idea that you own that is yours undeniably. He spoke about looking at a situation from a process redesign perspective and saying: this is mine, and you may not enter it unless it is on my terms. Sounded intimidating as I listened, but I let it marinate for a few days.
Education, unlike the corporate world, has no financial interest in changing or upgrading, but rather our interest comes from that age-old desire to give our students the best opportunity to learn. It is the job of the corporate change agent to see the change, initiate it, and weed out the barriers to it, whether they be people or logistical, or both. Cold.
I’ve spent the better part of the last few days thinking about the translation to education. Can you take that approach? I think it has to be modified to reflect that belief that change has no extrinsic reward. The change agent in education will spend as much time building community as he or she will introducing ideas. Education exists as both an art and a science, something we all learned in our induction programs, I am sure. Being so dichotomous, both aspects must be represented in your plan for change. So you can have your ideas, but those entrenched in the positions who will practice what you prescribe, teachers, must be able to identify with what you are attempting to change and contribute to it. Warmer?
This has my attention. Bring your ideas to the table, own them and flesh them out, but be aware of how they are interpreted; don’t let them be modified in practice to the point that they are unrecognizable.
Reading over the last few days, I came across Bob Sprankle’s post at TechLearning in which he spoke about NetDay Survey’s that he conducted in his district, which were aimed at assessing student attitudes about technology and learning. Towards the end of his post, he wrote the following:
At the Christa McAuliffe Conference, Dr. Tim Tyson talked about the idea of “childhood” being a relatively new concept; that children used to have very little time for “play” due to demands of helping the family survive. In the past, children were first and foremost expected to make a contribution and Tyson wonders if some of the problems that ail our children these days are due to the absence of attending to this contribution need. He asks the question: how old does someone need to be before they can make a contribution? Tyson calls for allowing students to make significant contributions now rather than later in life.
He goes on later to make it more formulaic
Safety + Inclusion + Meaningful Contribution + Play = Success for Our Students.
This is a plan for change, I thought immediately. This simple formula could be integrated into any curriculum or classroom implementation plan. This is the beginning of my “territory.”
I can think of a few teachers (Maybe 4 out of the 30 or so that I had) who inspired me, made me think, and instilled a love of what they loved. It had nothing to do with technology, but their passion for what they taught, authentic learning, and most importantly, pushing me to do something that I wouldn;t necessarily done on my own at that age.
I see that as one of the purposes of school that can;t be accomplished online or by yourself: doing things that at age 15 that I would never do on my own, but had some benefit as an adult. Examples: reading Chaucer, learning about mitochondria, perfecting a golf swing, working with special needs kids, studying Melville, or analyzing art.
Pulling this all together, here’s the next shift I’d like to see in my practice: design curriculum that pushes students to solve actual problems through creation and play and offer meaningful results for their efforts. The idea that we ask students to do things they normally wouldn’t do is not new, as Barry shows through his comment, so I would like to try to design a curriculum or tweak an existing one to reflect all requisite standards, but also enable teachers and students to design meaningful solutions to problems, or create useful and necessary materials. Do you use anticipatory sets? Why not assign students to create them in advance? Do you create study guides for big exams? Let the students create their own on a wiki that you can co-edit. In addition to reading Chaucer and studying mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell, by the way), we could have them produce content, either digitally or traditionally, that demonstrates to a larger audience that they have understood the concepts involved, and that they have transferred that learning to a medium that all can interpret and enjoy. Give them, as Sprankle said via Tim Tyson’s meaning, a responsibility that is tangible.
It’s going to be a great year….
Image Credit: “Flickr Rainbow” on Just_Tom’s photostream