‘Good ideas have lonely childhoods’

Hugh McLeod reckons this is the best line he’s written in a long time. I don’t know Hugh’s work well enough to agree with him, but I do love this line. It made me pause in my tracks and reflect on the meaning it has for me.

I left work Friday exhausted. We’d been reliant on technology very heavily for our inquiry project with all of Yr 7 and things just didn’t swing our way. Like I said in a previous post, the kids were amazing; they weathered the difficulties and found ways around their problems. I think by Friday afternoon I’d lost perspective. I felt like I’d being rowing upstream and was finding it hard to stay positive. A phone call from a colleague when I got home helped. She posed these questions;

Were the kids engaged?

Did they find ways around their problems?

Did they learn something?

Yes to all the above. Watching a business show this morning clarified things a bit for me too. A CEO was talking about his business plan and how it was a model they aimed for, but invariably it didn’t work to plan with all of the variables that affected the growth of their company. He talked of how you need to be adaptable to changing circumstances because it’s the only way you are going to move forward.

These are skills our students need. If everything works to plan all the time then maybe we’re facilitating a learning environment that isn’t reflective of the world they are going to enter. Work requires you to be adaptive and to find ways around problems. This is exactly what my students were doing as they battled issues with technology. I suppose what worries me is the perception of other teachers about the difficulties we encountered. It’s hard trying to get them accepting of technology rich projects and I do want to see adoption in my school.

Which brings me back to Hugh’s line. Here’s what he said in his post;

1. “Good ideas have lonely childhoods”. When I say, “Ignore Everybody”, I don’t mean, “Ignore all people, at all times, forever”. No, other people’s feedback plays a very important role. Of course it does. It’s more like, the better the idea, the more “out there” it initially will seem to other people, even people you like and respect. So there’ll be a time in the beginning when you have to press on, alone, without one tenth the support you probably need. This is normal. This is to be expected. Ten years later, drawing my “cartoons on the back of business cards” seems a no-brainer, in terms of what it has brought me, both emotionally and to my career. But I can also clearly remember when I first started drawing them, the default reaction was “people scratching their heads”. Sure, a few people thought they were kinda interesting and whatnot, but even with my closest friends, they seemed a complete, non-commercial exercise in futility for the New York world I was currently living in. Happily, time proved otherwise.

I feel like I’m in the playground, sitting in the sandpit pretty much alone right now in terms of my thinking. Friends will come, they always do, they’re just hanging around the fringes. I need to draw a few more lines in the sand to attract a crowd. I’ll keep at it.

Are you a 21st Century teacher?

21st Century Teacher21st Century Teacher

Jeff Utecht has a blog called The Thinking Stick which is where he posted this picture of what makes a well rounded teacher in the 21st Century.  On this blog you can also find a link to a PDF called Planning for 21st Century Technologies which outlines what he thinks schools need to do to respond to our changing digital world. I found this an enlightening read, and was pleased to see that he identified the need for schools to have what he called a Literacy/Media Specialist;

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Hopefully I’m well placed to fulfill this need in my school. And, I might note, he’s absolutely right – our students are today engaging with information in digital form as their first port of call before they resort to a print option. This is just a fact of life and we need to be able to guide our students and help them learn the skills they need to be effective learners in this world.

Jeff also talks of the need to have a Web based portal where everything you need was just a click away. He says he hasn’t seen anything yet that can do this. I’m wondering if he’s seen Scholaris Learning Gateway, a system our school is working with.

Scholaris International’s flagship product “Scholaris Learning Gateway” provides an enriched and stimulating student centric learning environment, transforming education for the 21st century.  Scholaris allows;

  • Students have their own rich and engaging digital learning environment which is accessible anywhere anytime, where they can share, communicate, collaborate and complete assignments and activities.
  • Teachers are provided with a unified interface of applications, tools and student centric data allowing them to tailor an actionable curriculum for the student’s individual needs. Teachers are also able to communicate, collaborate and share content, curriculum, lessons and learning objects thereby fostering the use of best practise.
  • Parents have simple and seamless access to information, such as their child’s academic performance, attendance, workload, events and news enabling a richer engagement with their child’s learning and their school community.

I think it can do all of the things Jeff talks about in his PDF.   We’re hoping it will be the portal through which many of us can become the 21st Century teachers we need to be.