The Learning Principal

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Fear Inhibits Progress

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I recently had the opportunity to present at the Alberta Google Summit. I chose to share a little bit of our 1-to-1 journey at Muir Lake School and how teaching and learning is transforming in this learning environment. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and perhaps more than anything was an amazing opportunity to reflect where we have come from in our building and what our next steps are.

After my presentation and throughout the couple of days at the conference I was able to visit with some other great educators from other school divisions. I heard lots of great stories and got lots of other ideas from our conversations. There was definitely lots of examples of schools and teachers making huge advancements in transforming teaching and learning. Unfortunately, there were also some stories that I heard that made me cringe. I heard about some educators who are still not embracing technology in their classroom (for a variety of reasons). I heard about IT departments that are getting in the way of innovative learning opportunities that teachers are trying to create. I heard about educators who are not confident to move forward with students publishing and connecting online due to parent resistance. I heard about lack of access to technology and schools who still ban BYOD in their building. I even heard about leadership that says no to teachers trying to utilize web 2.0 tools to engage students. My questions is why.
The factory model of education is no longer relevant to our students. It does not prepare students for the future in which they live. Nobody argues that our world has changed drastically in a short amount of time and continues to rapidly evolve. There is a plethora of research, books and blogs like Five Things Students Say They Want From Education, Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills, and Future Work Skills 2020 that all clearly demonstrate the necessity for educational reform. So why are there still so many pockets in education resistant to change?
I believe one big reason is fear. Fear of what could happen. Fear of failure. Fear of appearing inadequate. Fear of lacking the skills or expertise to embrace the change. Fear of what others may think. Fear of venturing out into uncharted territory. Fear of change itself. Policy is written because of the fear of what 1% of the student population may do if too much freedom was given. “No’s” are said because of what a small percentage of the parents’ may think. Freedom is revoked under the name of protection. This needs to change. Fear should not be a part of our culture… risk taking should be. And the risk itself should not even feel like that much of a risk because the culture of trust, innovation, collaboration, and change is so readily embraced that it is celebrated. Teaching and learning  must change. If not, education will become in danger of becoming completely irrelevant. Here is a thought…

Be willing to rock the boat. Take your leap.

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