I have a routine in the morning that helps me get out of bed. Well, actually, it keeps me in bed for about half an hour, but I’m hoping you catch my drift. It starts by getting my laptop going and religiously checking out a set of sites in a particular order (typing that actually made me realize just how anally retentive about this I might actually be) – I read the local newspapers then MSNBC for a national look, check out Facebook and then get to Twitter. I have two Twitter accounts – one for more personal matters, and one that I’ve established to keep me focused on educational issues (http://twitter.com/JeremyLenzi if you’re interested). Since I’ve started this second account, I have found it to be by far the most beneficial when it comes to starting my day.
I have been saying for quite some time that we have the power to effect change. So how do we do it? To begin with, we speak up. We have to be willing to take a stand and do it in a proper manner. We have to do what we do in front of our students on a daily basis – we have to model the appropriate behavior.
Standing firm in our beliefs, we must be willing to say that we’re not happy with the way things are and present a viable option for how to change. It’s not enough to simply moan and groan with no alternative presented to what we’re moaning and groaning about. If we are lectured to for 45 minutes during a presentation on 21st Century Skills that employed exactly no 21st century skills, then we must be willing to explain the error of these ways. And we must do so in the most appropriate way, by modeling what teaching in the 21st century truly entails.
As I’ve become more interested in the concept of education reform I’ve noticed a few things. The first thing I’ve noticed is that those in power tend not to like it when you speak up against their philosophies. This doesn’t mean that we’re wrong and they’re right, or vise versa, for that matter. What it means, more than anything else, is that we have to keep the dialogue open and ongoing.
Shouting, degrading and a pompous attitude will not do this. Providing constructive criticism is always more appropriate. So, while I was disappointed in the actual 21st Century Skills presentation, I was truly appreciative of our administrations recognition that this had to at least be addressed. I was extremely pleased with our administration’s providing choice for the in-service day in question. While I don’t believe it was ideal, it was the first time offered, and that’s a positive beginning. This was a start – now let’s keep the conversation going.
I can’t even begin to explain how valuable of a resource Twitter has been to my ongoing transformation into someone who truly cares about reforming our industry. I have “met” so many passionate people I would have never even heard about had it not been for this tool. To see how many people truly care – truly care – about what they’re doing is awe inspiring to say the least.
This morning I noticed that today has been designated the National Educational Blogging Day and knew that I wanted to take part. It’s a tremendous opportunity for us to read what so many others like us have to say about this issue that so many are passionate about. But, it’s also a tremendous opportunity for us to read what others have to say who don’t necessarily agree with our points of view. I’ve been thinking about the First Amendment a lot lately due to different issues. I mentioned yesterday that I took a group of students to D.C. for a day trip and some of the students went to the Museum. It meant so much to me when a student came back to me with a picture of the First Amendment as found on the outside of the Newseum. In case you haven’t been there, I’ve posted a pic below as a reminder that we have to take the good with the bad. That ALL speech is thankfully protected – even that which I don’t agree with.
I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to add to today’s discussion until I was led to a post written by John T. Spencer on the Cooperative Catalyst blog. In it, I found the following paragraph to be of particular interest:
“What we lack is humility. Set down the megaphone. Walk out of the echo chamber. Share a pint with someone who thinks you’re crazy for authentic learning or traditional learning or unschooling or home schooling or schooling on the large vacuum tubes of the interweb. Ask more questions and listen a little closer and see what emerges.”
I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment. Let us be willing to speak up. But let us also be willing to listen.