Saturday, August 2, 2008

Constructing Modern Knowledge '08 Reflection

This past week I had the chance to travel to Manchester, New Hampshire, where I participated in Gary Stager’s Constructing Modern Knowledge. Not only did we sit and listen but then we had wonderful opportunities for those hallway discussion that, in my opinion, are absolutely essential to try and digest all that we heard with the other 30 or so educators who were there.

Probably one of the most amazing things was to have a chance to talk with Peter Reynolds , Alfie Kohn, Bob Tinker, Marvin Minsky, Sylvia Martinez, & Gary Stager (of course) and to question and push back and discuss and reflect with each of these individuals. To walk into a workshop and come face to face with these individuals and to drink from that fountain of knowledge was at times like trying to sip from a fire hose, but it is that full blown washing of our minds and ideas of the old ways, that helps create the new ideas that lead to the potentiality of change.

As a former coach I saw many student athletes that had potential and in many cases that potential was realized and in others it wasn’t. The same is true of students that aren’t in extracurricular as well as with our faculties. How many of us have seen teachers shut down and just never reach their potential or start off like a rocket and burn out in that first 5 years we all hear about?

Throughout this week I saw the opportunities for me personally to realize potential and the possibility of not realizing potential. If anyone would have walked in during the conference I’m sure they might have immediately thought “well all they are doing is sitting around and just playing.” We did play, we tinkered, we talked, we got frustrated, we sat with people that paved the way and we listened and talked and listened but most importantly we LEARNED.

We learned new ways to be present to our students, to our faculty, to each other. Sure we learned new tools but as so many in the blogosphere have said over and over it is not about the tools. It is or at least it should be, about how we help bring our students to the well of knowledge. Do we allow them to passively sit, are we on the stage, is it about us or them, do we allow them to make mistakes and try again, do we allow their learning to get messy? For those in positions of leadership the same questions apply to the faculties and staffs we work with each and every day. What gets modeled is what gets learned.

This week we listened, we talked, we learned, we created and we learned from what we created and from what others created and we questioned and were questioned and we learned from that as well. We were even given the opportunity to get messy. I encourage each of us to model the messiness of creation and creativity, model the need to dive into the deep end, to walk the plank of education by being on the edge, to lead by example and to be willing to do it all each and every day and be wonderfully exhausted at the end of the day,

Thank you Gary Stager. Thank you for going out on a limb, for being willing to bring us together, for being willing to model , for being willing to helps us get messy, for helping us question but most of all for being there to support us.

Thank you Gary.

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