3 Important Shifts in Education

Connected Principals

(I really struggled with the title of this post, because I am not really sure if these are “shifts” or just ideas that have evolved that I am paying attention to right now. Also, these ideas are definitely not only connected to education, so take the title with a grain of salt.)

“We’re still in the first minutes of the first day of the Internet revolution.” Scott Cook

The above quote resonates with me strongly, because we are currently living in a culture that not only seems to have endless answers, but endless questions, both which are subject to change.  I think of some of the things that we used to talk about in schools, now shifting to something else.  For example, I remember once working with my students talking about the importance of staying anonymous online, and now we have shifted to working with our students to develop a positive digital footprint where they actually can be found.  I often wonder “what’s next?” Our answers now, may shift, and we need to be able to be adaptable to a constantly changing landscape.

In education, I have noticed some trends not necessarily changing, but shifting in thought. In learning, we have to be open to change and take what we know and think about how to move forward.  Curriculum should not be written in ink anymore, but on a google doc.  It seems to only make more sense as we continue to move forward in both school and education.

Here are a few things I have been thinking about that I am seeing shift right now:

1.  “Digital Citizenship” to “Digital Empathy”

I struggled with the heading for this one because it could simply be “Citizenship to Empathy”, but sometimes we have to focus on the impact “digital” has and also realize that empathy is actually an important part of citizenship. We talk to our students about the importance of being good “digital citizens” and putting their best foot forward online, yet in reality, many of us avoided the same mistakes as a youth not because we know better, but the opportunities to share online didn’t exist.  It was not our wisdom that saved us.

Monica Lewinsky’s recent Ted Talk on “The price of shame”,  she states that we have a “compassion deficit, an empathy crisis”.  People make mistakes, young and old, and we have to realize that being a “good citizen” is also being good to each other, even when it is tough.  It is important to talk to our students about the possible mistakes that we can make online, but it is also important to teach understanding and forgiveness.

One of my favourite quotes is, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”  We have to always remember this.

2.  “Student Voice” to “Student Leadership”

Student voice has always been something that has been valued in our world, but do listen to students to only hear what they say, or do we truly bring them into the conversation and tap into their wisdom for growth in our system?  In a recent TedX from Kate Simonds, she calls on schools to not only listen to students, but to empower them in the change process.  If innovation starts with empathy, who better to tap into  then the people that we are trying to serve in the first place.  The typical thought when the term “student leadership” is about students leading amongst their peers, not necessarily at the system level.  It needs to go further.

Listening to students is not enough; we must bring them into the change process.

3. Growth Mindset to Innovator’s Mindset

Carol Dweck’s work on the “growth mindset” has been something embraced in the field of education and has made a major impact on the learning of so many, educators and students alike.  One of the quotes that has really resonated with me is from Thomas Friedman who states, “The world only cares about what you can do with what you know.”  As educators, who now have access to not only all of the information in the world, but to each other, we have a greater opportunity to come up with new and better way of serving our students.  Shifting our thinking and embracing “the innovator’s mindset“, allows us to create better opportunities and serve learners in powerful ways.  Isolation is the enemy of innovation and we have to be willing to tap into one another to create a better today and tomorrow for our students.

Like I said earlier, these are not necessarily movements from one extreme to another and many of these ideas are correlated.  Being a great “citizen” means to be caring and empathetic.  Without listening to student voice, leadership doesn’t happen. An “innovator’s mindset” does not exist without embracing a “growth mindset”.  This is more about taking what we know and pushing forward to think about what is possible.

What are you seeing changing or moving forward in our world today?

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