In returning from the Learning 2.008 Conference, I have had a lot on my mind. The conference brought together educators new to all of this “shift happens” talk and those that were on board – our “converted” that echo in the blogosphere, sometimes too much. And the conference continues to succeed in bringing an enthusiasm and energy to those new to these ideas – getting more people “on the bus”. If that’s happening, then the conference is doing its job.
But I wonder where the rest of us are going.
Sifting through my RSS reader, reading through the blog posts of my Personal Learning Network, commenting and being commented upon, I find myself questionning where we stand.
How much change are we affecting?
How much “shift” is happening in our schools?
In isoloated projects or classrooms, some incredible stuff is happening. Kids are collaborating. They’re networked, wired, savvy, and being prepared to succeed.
But in those same schools and throughout education, we still that the majority are not on the bus – they didn’t even know that there was somewhere to go.
What is going to be the tipping point of this shift?
Will schools resist changing and render themselves obsolete? And at what stage does this become unethical to allow?
Real widespread change is going to have to come from administration.
In schools, we find ourselves clinging to proven pedagogy and content curriculum, because they have worked in the past and it’s what we know.
Now however, we also recognize that students need more different learning. They’ve always needed the skills of communication, collaboration, and meta-cognition. We’ve always valued Gardner’s disciplined and ethical minds (and other Five Minds). But the context for which they need these skills and minds has changed, sped up, and arguably gained in importance. As a result, students need different learning experiences to ensure their participation and success in a rapidly changing world.
So, here I go again, joining the echo chamber, preaching to the converted. Where am I going with this?
Educators who get this idea, are on one side of a chasm from the rest of education still rooted in old practice (with best intentions).
In trying to lead change, educators are trying to manage this gap between what we’ve done and what we need to do. It needs to be school administrators who lead this shift, by bridging the gap between the tried-and-true and the bold-and-new.
The edublogosphere made up of consultants and librarians, technology facilitators and teachers are doing their best and making headway, but the fog is still thick and they are navigating through it with a flashlight.
It will take school administrators who see the need for educational change (reform is too intimidating a word) to take isolated innovation and make it practice.
Truly make it the way we do business.
So, get to work on your administrators and get them on board. Or better yet, become administrators yourselves.
Keep in mind that you lead a staff who are generally good teachers. They have great intentions. They care about student learning. And all the good that they have done and can do is not yet obsolete (no matter how often we tell ourselves it is).
We find ourselves at a pivotal time, I believe, where a new wave of administrators could be coming through, grounded in traditional schooling, but also thriving in a wired world. Educators who understand both sides of the gap.
It is these administrators who can bridge this gap.
You won’t find these educators satisfied getting on the bus – they’re ready to drive it.
Maybe one of these people is you.
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