“Yes, but”


Today Will Richardson spoke to a group of school administrators.  He provided a compelling description of the changes (shift) that’s occurring in society and that schools have been immune.  He demonstrated ways that he is learning by connecting to others.  He asked the questions, “What can I learn from you? How can we learn together?”   Learning networks can be created through Twitter, his recommended first step.  He pleaded that schools should turn from fact-based learning (you can search for it) to problem-based, inquiry learning, although I’ve written in earlier postings that students should leave schools with some facts to have reasonable conversations with others.

Further he presented that we should be teaching information literacy by teaching wikipedia.  While the content has inaccuracies, so do many text-based authoritative sources.

Additionally, he presented some compelling evidence from the business world about managing our online reputations and that we should teach our students the same. 

In the afternoon, he asked the participants to begin to develop a vision and formulate a plan to help bring the shift to their schools.  The discussion centered on things and the adults.  Little was about the schools we want to create for our students and how we want them to learn.

All day the participant conversation included many “Yes, but” statements from the administrative group. 

I have been listening to many conversations at administrative conferences in past decade.  The conversation with school leaders usually devolves into a list of what we want to purchase (laptops for students) rather than how students should learn.  While I was energized by Richardson’s ideas, I was “depressed” about the school leaders’ views of where we need to go.   I am not sure that we, as a school leadership group, will ever get the changes that are occurring in society, where many students have more access and better technology at home than they have at school.  Perhaps school as we know it will become obsolete and one day we’ll turn around and wonder where our students went.

Richardson’s evidence is very similar to Christensen’s formal study of disruptive innovation.  The change will hit fast and schools will not be nimble enough to adjust to the change.

Richardson, Christensen and others continue to warn us of what’s just across the horizon.  If only we could  or would do something about this.  Rather all we hear is “Yes, but.”

It might be too late before these curves line up.

One comment

  1. Hey Jeff,

    Thanks for posting these reflections. Can’t help but be challenged by the landscape at the moment, and I think it all comes down to just focusing on the learning, our own learning, our students’s learning, and how that is changing. Best wishes in moving learning forward in your school.


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