January 30, 2012

My Monday Manifesto

Deirdre Bailey

An overwhelmingly engaging weekend of actively stretching my mind around powerful new perspectives on education and I find myself struggling desperately and unsuccessfully to shut off a raging brain and take advantage of the opportunity to nap on the trip home. Key resonants of conversations float into focus and I feel a strange combination of inspiration and desperation that without committed action these pieces will fail to translate into something new.

Thank goodness for the piece that was Dan Barcay’s comment during a Friday panel on sustaining innovation; “as our world moves from a period of information scarcity to one of information overload, education is now a navigation problem instead of a cramming one.” This thought results in a giant sigh-of-relief as I suddenly conceive of the best, the only way to move through to tomorrow with purpose. I just need a map to navigate to my next destination. And so the question is no longer: how will I become - overnight - one of those groundbreaking educators I met at Educon? Rather, the question is: what pieces am I going to put together to get me on that innovation boat and moving through the water on Monday?

Here are those pieces:

Explore the adjacent possible. Play up ignorance of what is possible to create space for imagination. “See the snake in a benzene ring.” Make it emotional. Connect what you’re doing to how you feel. Ask: “Wouldn’t it be cool if...?”

Find your place. “Financial gain is no longer the pinnacle of what it means to be a participant in society.” Seize the freedom to know where you’re going. Prove that you don’t need to be told what to know and how, just given the opportunity to be curious and the confidence to be fallible. Ask: “What role do you want to play? Who do you want to be? What’s your story?”

Allow others to draw on top. There’s something to be said for putting stuff out there that other people can edit. Google Earth has amazing applications that lets external users write all over it. Think wikis. Think apps. Open it up and all of it. Only biased research publicizes wholly positive results. Share accurately. What didn’t work and why? Put it all out there, then step back and have a look at what other people can do with it. Ask: “What would you do with this? What could you do with this?”

How to be. Be colleagues. Appreciate personality. Re-infuse humanity in every day. Don’t assume or assert. “Show kindness and care, if they take advantage of it that’s on them.” Let them figure it out. “Let it be okay not to be okay” but notice when it’s not okay. Listen patiently and listen actively. Ask: “Are you okay?”

These pieces are a mosaic of multiple ideas and mutual understandings, reflective of what was so openly and generously shared at Educon by Zoe Strauss, Chris Emdin, Alec Couros and so many others. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to reflect on them. More massive thanks to Chris Lehmann and the spectacular community at SLA. Inspired.