“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
All of us are looking from the inside out.
Consciously challenging ourselves to examine our paradigms is critical if we are to look at new ways of doing things. We grow comfortable with what is, and moving on from it is sometimes akin to the final action of admitting that a favourite piece of clothing has had its day. Do we try to buy a ‘genuine replacement,’ or do we look for a different way to achieve similar outcomes: be that comfort or statement or even utility. Mostly we want for that ‘different way’ to also add something to the experience we had before.
“You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.” – Albert Einstein
In large systems, the ability to move on, and not adopt different ways of achieving the same outcomes but to look at adding value to the experience depends on the capacity to imagine different futures.
“The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.” – Albert Einstein
Just how might we get engaged in the business of ‘planning school?’ This is not about bulldozing and replacement. We simply cannot afford that, and we are left with the challenge of modifying key systems and motivation while the wagons roll on. How do we imagine that we can do this without some breadth in the way we devise our policy and the means by which we source our ideas. It may take time and some room to move for patterns and the lines which create meaning to emerge.
“I’ve been doing a lot of abstract painting lately, extremely abstract. No brush, no paint, no canvas, I just think about it.” – Steven Wright
There are great ideas out there. And, there are lone nuts dancing.
“The man with a new idea is a crank – until the idea succeeds.” – Mark Twain
We have great tools at our disposal to connect: with people and ideas. Our access to a metalanguage which can transcend the ‘localisation’ of culture, religion and nationalism provides the fabulous potential for ‘glocalisation,’ in which our ability to act both locally and globally is seen as an enormous adding of value to our horizon of possibility. As we connect using social media like Twitter, we see linkages form across town, across the state, the country and the world. Projects spring up between teachers, discussion and debate takes place about what it is we do, and woven through the warp is the weft of bright ideas and willingness to follow each other laterally, providing a meaning and expression for the vertical warp.
Sometimes it can feel as though we are travelling up and down in the vertical elevator of bureaucracy: glum with the realisation that you can’t even get to certain floors without a swipe card. And then, sometimes, when the doors open and we see a corridor of connectedness to fresh ideas and helpful others, we are reminded that the up and down can only ever really have meaning and purpose when it serves as a means of getting people to the places they need to be to laterally grow.
Look around: there are countless opportunities to learn and to find things to excite our curiosity. We, as teachers, will often find that we find the best opportunities for learning by looking directly outward and around, not up; or down.
After we connect, there is then the power of our ability to collaborate.
“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct arising from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the object it loves.” – Carl Jung
Given an atmosphere where it feels safe to do so, and where it is clear what is expected, people have a great capacity to innovate and, importantly, to improvise: working from what is at hand, creating solutions which provide glimpses of possible futures. If we adopt a tight, loose, tight model within the way that we structure our learning environment we can create ways of doing things where there can be sufficient looseness to encourage the harnessing of a plethora of possibilities in demonstrating the outcomes of learning.
“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” – General George Patton
Social media like Twitter and Yammer have clearly shown the vast store of creative capacity which exists within all of the people who work within education. Our huge challenge is to find ways which allow this creative capacity to be appropriately recognised and used productively, with benefit for all.
“After years of telling corporate citizens to ‘trust the system,’ many companies must relearn instead to trust their people – and encourage their people to use neglected creative capacities in order to tap the most potent economic stimulus of all: idea power.” – Rosabeth Moss Kanter
This is not just a challenge for the ‘companies,’ however. It is a challenge for us all. New learning and the fresh application of things already known requires commitment and time.
“You will never find the time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” – Charles Burton
Today, I was happy to learn something new about something I wanted to do better by noticing what someone else had done by accident and then learning, via a flurry of email, how the result was achieved. In the middle of this, new ideas took form to be added to the mix. Separated in the vertical elevator of age by at least 20 or more years, we were able to get off at the same floor and walk away with a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that we can both apply something new to the way we do things.
This is a good result.