Creating climates of possibility

This is Sir Ken Robinson’s latest TED talk. Ken’s ability to convey powerful ideas with smatterings of humour really does make him the consummate speaker. It’s worth investing 19 or so minutes listening to his message that is directed at the US system but has relevance to education professionals everywhere.

I couldn’t help but think as I watched that Ken might be impressed with Jeff Bliss, a student from Duncanville High School in Texas. Jeff’s classroom outburst was recorded (unbeknownst to Jeff) by another student on their phone and posted to YouTube, where it has gone viral with over 2.9 million views after just three days online. While I don’t subscribe to posting video without the consent of all parties, and I think the administration of Duncanville High School must be enacting some serious damage control and checking if they have a signed Responsible Use Policy to refer to, Jeff’s words spoke to my heart. See if they speak to your heart too.

Sir Ken concludes his talk by saying that we need to create climates of possibility in our schools. Both what and how we teach need to be the seeds that make possibility grow and flourish for our students. I don’t know if Jeff has ever seen a Ken Robinson talk, but his words make it clear that he subscribes to this thinking too. For once, I encourage you to read the comments on the YouTube video featuring Jeff. While you’ll encounter some trolling behaviour, much of what is said supports Jeff’s outburst and many comments seem to come from young people present in school systems today. It’s worth it to watch an interview conducted with Jeff after the video began spreading – he has an interesting perspective to share.

What this video certainly does teach us is that social media can have far reaching implications for teachers, especially if they are filmed unknowingly in their classrooms. The teacher in question has been publicly shamed here and apparently has been put on administrative leave. We haven’t had an opportunity to hear her perspective yet and we may never hear it. It goes without saying that we do need to have Responsible Use Policies within our schools that are read and hopefully respected by our student populations. It doesn’t mean they’ll be adhered to, but they do give us opportunities to discuss with our students the moral and ethical considerations they should bring to their use of devices with recording ability and social media.

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