Monday, September 8, 2014

A Further Thought on #EdJourney

     A few days ago I posted "First Thoughts on #EdJourney." It wasn't really a review of Grant Lichtman's new book--just some of the larger ideas it prompted and some of what I guess could be called cautionary notes about how people might miss some of the more important ideas. That could occur mainly because it's easy to become focused strictly on the many wonderful examples from different schools. Almost as soon as I posted, a new idea about the book occurred to me. Not just about the book, but about the entire project that has led to the book.
     Grant set out in search of innovation in schools. He found plenty of it, sometimes in little pockets, sometimes in sweeping models. We now have this wonderful book as a product. But we also need to think about the process. Both literally and analogously, we have a wonderful model for the type of learning that should be going on in our schools.
     Consider, in no particular order:

  • The entire idea begins with a giant question about education and is a deep, wide exploration. Questions beget more questions, with ongoing reflection and generative thinking. "How might we..?" and "What if..?" never cease to peel away more layers. 
  • Rather than merely muse inwardly, Grant looks outward, connecting with the much larger world in a search for understanding.
  • In doing so, he forges multiple connections with people all over and brings in varied perspectives. He refers to myriad sources. In a sense, while Grant is the sole author, one gains a sense of collaboration.
  • That happens because Grant let us share the experience and comment on it through social media. Reading his blog, for instance, was like reading his drafts as they developed. We see his thought processes.
  • Speaking of his blog, Grant utilized the best technology tools at his disposal, from his Prius and iPhone to his blog and Twitter. Of course, he also went through dozens of the old stand-by: legal pads and post-its.
  • The book is a creative endeavor. The whole thing is a creative endeavor.
  • The work is highly relevant, and the contribution to the field is meaningful.
  • The quest leads not just to accumulation of knowledge, but to some new wisdom.
     When you consider the entirety of the project, Grant is both student and teacher. He writes about the schools he visits,
"I increasingly hear teachers and their students talking about the adults becoming 'lead learners' and 'co-learners' along side their students...teachers develop a view of themselves as participating in a constantly evolving journey of exploration with their students, as opposed to teachers' traditional role of providing knowledge to their students" (104-5).
He has given us many models--including himself.
     So here's a thought. A challenge if you will. Obviously we can't send students off to drive around the country on their own. But how might we design learning experiences just as full of purposeful discovery?

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