From my point of view, the challenge of being intentional about connecting – mind-to-mind is worth accepting – because the stakes are so very high. I believe that we live in times where interdependent thinking holds real value for all mankind.
People engaging in conversations where transformation has the potential of occurring are people who can help form adaptive interactions. Adaptive responses to the status quo can help create futures focused on the common good. Yes, I use the word “can” because there is no assurance that common good will be the shared focus.
Ron Heifetz, Alexander Grashow, and Marty Linsky in their book: The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World (2009) write about adaptive leadership. Their definition: Adaptive leadership is the practice of mobilizing people to tackle tough challenges and thrive (page 14) sounds like the kind of leadership many of us might want to experience. Tackling tough challenges and thriving is the direction to the future that I want to put my energy into. For me that sounds like the ‘common good’.
These conversations need to be more intentional than casual. Laura Lipton and Bruce Wellman in their chapter Creating Communities of Thought: Skills, Tasks, and Practices from The Power of the Social Brain edited by Arthur Costa and Pat Wilson O’Leary (2013) write: “When, how and with whom we participate shapes the possibilities of our lives. Participation fuses with purpose when catalytic questions energize the cognitive reaction.
Purpose, process, and reflection are the essential components of provocative and thoughtful inquiry. The challenge of the questions that we ask ourselves, and now we ask those questions, make the difference between committees and communities.
We offer the following formulation: Purpose + Participation + Catalytic Questions = A Sustainable Community of Thought”
The ‘with whom’ part of the above quote is crucial to think deeply about. I suggest that we need to get very good at engaging with people across differences.
The ‘how and when’ part of the above quote is not to be taken lightly either. These two components are fundamental to reaching to potential that is possible when people think together across differences. Working toward reaching a solid consensus is a worthy goal as is being sure to tackle tough problems when there are engaged people ‘in the room’ who look at the issue or topic from varied perspective and are willing to work together to attempt to find a consensus agreement.
Thinking together in complex times requires being willing to develop our skills, abilities, and dispositions. We have knowledge to gain. We have capabilities to develop. And it is worth our effort to begin this journey toward developing our social brain.
I am a teacher. I believe that all students can learn. I also believe that ‘for all students to learn’ we adults have some important thinking to do together.
In an attempt to stimulate serious thinking around this the topic of Connected Thinking I pose these questions:
Is the role of schooling to deliver content to the student?
Could the 4th R related to educating every student be: RELEVANCE?
Who are the people responsible for helping young people both survive and thrive as learners?
Is there value in students learning how to: learn, adapt, engage and be flexible?
Has our current approach to schooling tended to leave many learners behind?
What would happen to our learners if each were heavily engaged in their own learning?
These questions may lead to more provocative thinking. They may lead to more questions. I believe that reflecting on what ‘can be’ in our educational system must be high on the agenda of all of us. Our young people and their futures are a precious asset which we must not underestimate.
Please click on this picture and then on the arrow that will start an eight minute video on connected learning (note: the first 20 some seconds of the video are silent).
Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education
Lessons from PISA for the United States
Here is a link to the report. http://www.oecd.org/pisa/46623978.pdf Warning it is long. It compare the the US to countries across the world.
I find it a very interesting read.
And I have specific idea for you to consider to narrow your focus down from the almost 300 page document.
I am interested in the reading results. You might want to look at pages 26 through 30 to set the stage for your thinking by viewing some of the comparison information and graphs.
Then focus in on page 30 Figure 2.2 and read the seven levels of proficiency in reading (as defined by this international organization) and try to place yourself among the seven. And then think about these questions:
- What value is there to you and your future (or the future of your children) to think deeply about this inter national reading proficiency description?
- Think about specific behaviors you can pursue that will likely advance your (or your children’s) level of proficiency in reading.
- Do you sense that when PISA describes reading they are focusing on comprehension and critical thinking?
- What kind of thinker are you when you read?
- What kinds of thinkers are your children when they read?
Do we have a world view?
Do we see the need to be successful in teaching all young people?
Do we want today’s students to be players in a world economy?
I am not happy to report that if the law Michigan is considering passing which would keep third graders in third grade until they learn to read would mean I might still be there.
That is true because I was a non reader in third grade. And more third grade would have likely just led to me being more unhappy, more full of doubt, more worried and bigger a year later. In fact, since I wouldn’t have learn by more ‘drilling’ I may have not more on the next year.
The thought pains me to think about.
At sixty-five, with three college degrees, I look back and can see no good that could come from a retention decision like this.
I do agree with PISA that the best thing that could have happened for me would have been to help you learn reading the first time around.
Here is a great 12 minute YouTube video – Measuring student success around the world
Watching this might open our eyes to the big picture of literacy and how the United States is doing and what makes sense and what doesn’t for moving forward.
Initiating, supporting and carrying out a desired change within a company or organization is not for the ‘faint of heart’ leader. Leaders can misjudge the ‘complexity’ that the proposed changes may actually possess as the change relates to the status quo.
It will be helpful for leaders to consider that change will generally be a complex challenge for an organization. For leaders or leadership teams to fully implement at desired change within an organization it is wise to frame ‘change’ with an appreciation for this complexity.
Having a fully informed approach to change can help to lead the organization to complete and successful execution of the change.
The model below reminds us of the five elements which need to be in place in order to effectively move forward:
Vision ➔ Skills ➔ Incentives ➔ Resources ➔ Action Plan = Motivated/Change
To help see the value of the each component let’s ask: What happens when an element is missing?
- If the vision is missing or fuzzy, or isn’t effectively communicated, staff will be confused, uninspired, and be wondering what is this disruption to the status quo all about. They may experience the change as mere drudgery or as silly.
- If staff – and managers! – don’t have the skills needed to insure that the change can actually happen, this can result in anxious or frustrated people, who are set up to potentially fail.
- We often forget that incentives are important. This doesn’t necessarily mean monetary or even physical. It’s human to want to know: “what’s in it for me?” It’s worth it to invest in helping staff figure out for themselves how they will benefit from the changes. If we don’t, they’re not likely to be motivated, and change may not occur or it will unfold randomly and slowly.
- What happens if we plunge ahead, without ensuring that the staff have the resources they need? They’ll be understandably frustrated, and the desired change probably won’t happen.
- Finally, if we don’t take the time to lay out a clear action plan, staff will be uncertain about their roles and responsibilities, and may make attempts at change, but are unlikely to follow through. The plan should include who is responsible for what, by when, and how you’ll know you were successful.
Keeping these five elements in mind as you plan for, and progress through, change will greatly enhance your chances for success.
 Adapted from Delores Ambrose, 1987
CBS News presents a story that makes a strong case for thinking together, working together and playing together as very good things. This is a story of Michigan middle school that plan and implemented actions that made a difference for a fellow student and potentially helped many others to see the value of their motives actions. These middle school students figured out a way to think and behave around the concept of inclusion, team, family, group, community etc. that may stay with them for a life time.
This is a story of the Olivet Eagles football team from Olivet Middle School in lower mid-Michigan. This is a story of young people working in concert to peruse their vision of the common good. This Middle School Football Team Went Behind Their Coaches’ Backs To Do Something Incredible. Click below to see the story.