Saying “yes”

Will Richardson talked about friction points caused by new technologies and the rapid pace of change.   When I heard Lawrence Lessig talk at U.T. about copyright, he was talking about how innovators created this new system of copyright because the law wasn’t changing fast enough to meet the web 2.0 environment.

As I sat there listening to Lawrence Lessig in the auditorium at U.T., I noticed how many students in the audience had their laptops open, listening, taking notes, but also browsing, chatting,  and checking email, and it really hit home.  Colleges are already dealing with this in their classrooms and we will be soon.

The largest friction point for me is how is my job and teaching going to change and will it be valued, and if so how?  I earnestly believe that it will be valued, that students need guides and support and that what we all do is critical to that.  But it can be unnerving to contemplate.   And yet seeing all those students with laptops in the lecture hall, made me believe ever more strongly, schools have to be getting ready for this, because it creates a pretty different paradigm for our classrooms and libraries.   (And the changes aren’t all about technology, but about our students’ culture and world–the changes are about people.)

change.jpg     And I wonder as we face these “friction” points of change, how we can soften our practices and ourselves and say “yes, and….” instead of “yes, but…”  (Avish Parashar writes that, “‘Yes and’ is a conversation; ‘yes but’ is an argument.”)  

How we can soften our practices and support one another because we will all need that support, from the techie types to the nontechie types, because change can be difficult and frustrating.  There are roadblocks of all kinds–technological, student behaviors, financial, infrastructure and people who will say “no”.

The process of change is tremendously difficult in every field, as all of us know.  Hundreds if not thousands of books have been published about dealing with change, and I would say it is one of the most difficult challenges.

But everyone is good at something and we all contribute value,  and so we can use our contributions to continue to build a powerful learning community.   But we have to remember to say “yes” to ourselves first, and then “yes” to others we work with and “yes” to being open to exploration–not to change our core beliefs necessarily, but to support each other as we go through our own learning adventures, and to support our students in theirs. 

Two books I can recommend on this topic–Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, and Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges. 

As Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Your thoughts?

photo credit: “Be the Change”

2 thoughts on “Saying “yes”

  1. Time are a-changin’. What I love most is knowing we have a strong foundation at WHS, but we are looking for something new, contemporary, relative, and cutting-edge. Would you rather be a yes or a no? Would you rather be a trend-setter or considered old-fashioned? Would you rather be closed or open? Would you rather have people come go with you, or stay behind, possibly alone? The ride is going to be fun … the results will take us to a new mountaintop. What we see from atop the crest might give us new dreams. There is no doubt with the intelligent humans who call themselves Westlake that we will stay grounded, while we are reaching for the sky.

  2. The future has a way of arriving unannounced – George Will

    It has always been the goal of educators to create life-long learners and, in a world which seems to be changing at an ever increasing rate, achieving this goal seems to be even more important to the success of our students. I think everyone’s first tendency is to resist rather than embrace change, however…

    “In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exits” — Eric Hoffer.

    The role of educators seems to be shifting from leader to facilitator and the role of students is shifting away from passive learner to active collaborator. We need to be open to learning from each other (teacher to student, student to student, student to teacher and teacher to teacher). I’ve learned from experience that it is wrong to assume that all the students are tech-savy. Many of them still confine themselves to Powerpoint presentations – their comfort zone. Maybe a first step would be to take existing assignments and give students more latitude with respect to how they present their final projects. In every class there are usually a few tech-savy students eager to share their knowledge. Watching presentations which incorporate other types of tools (blogs, Photostory, imovie, etc. ), might encourage other students to try them out. Giving students an opportunity to be the “teacher” is empowering and much more likely to engage them.

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