Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year's Resolution




I was never one to make New Year’s Resolutions. For some reason, I never embraced the idea of saying from this point forward I will do the following or for that matter, seeing January 1st as a motivating factor. However, I came across the following post on Daniel Pink’s blog. The post “3 resolutions for making 2011 practically radical” offered possible resolutions for the upcoming new year. One of the resolutions resonated and gave me a moment to pause and consider what can be discussed over the remaining school year.

The resolutions Pink shared were from Fast Company co-founder Bill Taylor. The suggestions explained in the blog post came from Bill Taylor’s new book, Practically Radical: Not-so-crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself. One of the resolutions stated the following:

I resolve to embrace a sense of vuja dé. We’ve all experienced déjà vu—looking at an unfamiliar situation and feeling like you’ve seen it before. Vuja dé is the flip side of that—looking at a familiar situation (an industry you’ve worked in for decades, problems you’ve worked on for years) as if you’ve never seen it before, and, with that fresh line of sight, developing a distinctive point of view on the future. The challenge for all of us is that too often, we let what we know limit what we can imagine. This is the year to face that challenge head-on.

I found the suggestion to be profound and in particular the idea of looking at something as if you have never seen it before. At times, educators can get lost in the system and forget the need to think progressively. The realities of shrinking budgets, state and or federal mandates, or deeply rooted school climates can cast an ominous cloud over innovative pursuits. Embracing a sense of vuja dé, challenges the notion of accepting the status quo or using crutches to slow down change.

In looking forward to the new year, it is important to step away and consider what is possible. The need to be creative and innovative is constant. Without examining education from a fresh perspective limits are placed on schooling. Here’s to a new year and the promise of what can be accomplished. With that in mind, I think we need to pay attention to the following possibilities.

  1. Grading- is the current grading system relevant or should we move to a proficiency-based model that eliminates the seemingly arbitrary A-F scale?
  2. Multiple Pathways- are we providing for students multiple pathways in which understanding can be demonstrated? Are there multiple through routes in which students can reach graduation? How else do we infuse the interests and passions of stakeholders?
  3. Internships- do we see students as apprentices or students? How do we get our students to think and act in a way that mirrors the professional world?