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October 25, 2010


Do we have enough guts to ask real questions?

by Chris Lindholm

Thanks to fellow administrator and blogger / high school director Dave Meister, I ran across this RSA Animate presentation called "Changing Education Paradigms."  It happens to line up beautifully with a meeting I had recently in which I was told that several teachers in ISD 191 did not like what I had to say in a recent post called "Our Future Experts of Standing in Line."  In response to that feedback, I'd like to offer this intriguing animate video and a couple of thoughts:

First… I believe every one of us in education heads to work each day seeking to do what is right for kids.  Put simply - we are all on the same team.  We all believe in the importance of education and we all work extremely hard to deliver on that calling.  This isn't about who is right and who is wrong – it's about getting real about how to best deliver on our mission.  That is something we should all be able to rally for collaboratively. 

Second – delivering on our mission with excellence requires creating a "Culture of Greatness" in ISD 191.  This means creating an environment in which rigorous debate about what is right is valued and cultivated, an environment in which disciplined people practice disciplined thought and action, and an environment in which the brand of our organization is palpable in every classroom of every building.  If raising a few questions about the realities of 2010 is not ok, then we certainly don't have an environment that welcomes good debate.  So… rather than take shots, please jump in and join the discussions!  I certainly don't have all of the answers about how to best deliver on our mission – but I believe the staff in 191 has them if we put our heads together!!  Handling some shots is part of this job, but I am more interested in what you all think about how to move forward.  Your wisdom is needed and valued so please jump in!  

This educator is committed to improving public education.  That does NOT assume those in public education have done something wrong or are bad people.  In fact, I have chosen this career largely because of the wonderful people in public education.  Most are heros to particular individual students…  If others can have rigorous debate about how to make money, politics, how to sell more product, etc… we can certainly have thick enough skin to debate about how to best deliver on the important job of educating children.  We simply cannot afford to avoid this debate – it's kids at stake here… 

Please watch this animate and offer your thoughts as a comment to this post.  Times have changed and we need to respond… yes WE.  We are public education… Teachers, EAs, clerical staff, administrators, bus drivers, cooks, custodians, etc…  Together we will - we must – come up with the best answers.  What are your thoughts?  How should we be changing what we do to best deliver on the mission of preparing students for the 21st century?? 



6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oct 25 2010

    Chris – I watched this video in class with some of my students today. I have watched it multiple times over the past week and I am left with one thought. If the ability of students to think divergently erodes with each passing year in our formal system, how can we expect our teachers to jump on board with some of these changes quickly? I know that we have a lot of work to do and being myself someone who can sometimes be impatient with those who don’t see that our current system is broken, this video made me a bit more sensitive to those who struggle with the idea of change.

  2. Oct 25 2010

    Your thoughts speak to just how hard change is in an organization or community. It also touches on the complexity of leading public education in a country with a democratic government rooted in majority rule/compromise/popular vote (versus what is right) with a capitalistic economy rooted in competition and survival of the fittest practices (versus what is right for the whole). What we do lies smack in the middle of that rub… and the economic realities of today are in a huge transition.
    So… yes, I see the need for sensitivity to change understanding the system that created today’s reality for most people. How do we balance that with the urgency of making sure every kid has a fair shot at success? Ahhh the art of leadership – yes?

  3. Oct 25 2010

    You have really tied together the meaning of this video and challenging staff to examine daily practices. Educational leaders, be they teachers or administrators, have to constantly apprise how we address the needs of our students. Things are changing so rapidly and I really believe we are failing to grasp how quickly we are becoming obsolete as an institution. We have to ask these questions. Change is uncomfortable at best, but I fear inaction maybe doom public education to the same fate as newsprint and travel agents. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this!

  4. Oct 26 2010

    Chris, These questions are critical if not emergent. My frustrations come in many forms. Chief among them is the systemic change that must come from asking these questions. I alone can not answer them. If we are truly to find answers there must be a paradigm shift across a district, vertical team or within a department. Sometimes, even though I feel passionately about reform and getting students to really think instead of regurgitate facts, I feel my hands are tied by the rest of the “machine” I suppose Collins would tell me to continue to move towards greatness and others will follow. Keeping asking the tough questions; it is encouraging!

  5. Oct 27 2010

    Thanks Michelle for offering some thoughts. No matter what position I am in, I have always felt trapped by the machine. We will find a way – or die trying. That’s the calling. The future of our kids and our country depend on it.
    Pretty cool we can say that… what a profession…

  6. Oct 30 2010

    This article touched my heart,hope the author will bring us a better articles.


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