Thursday, February 25, 2016

Wrapping Up Day One of #NASIAC 2016

                During a rich conference, I always spend some time reflecting on how I can weave the threads of a day together. So this will be a process post in which I attempt to do just that. If it becomes incoherent or I veer too far off topic, please forgive me. But what follows is literally a look at the inner workings of my mind.
                After breakfast with a dear former colleague, I headed to a session on diversity. One speaker prompted us with a great question: Why is diversity vital to your mission? In answering, we had to consider several domains, one of which was the intellectual rationale. This is something I’ve pondered and written about quite a bit as it’s tied to creative and innovative thought. Diversity increases possibility by bringing multiple perspectives and experiences and ideas to the learning process.
                This segued quite naturally into Randi Zuckerberg’s keynote, in which we heard about all sorts of tech trends. Some were a bit old hat (at least in current tech terms), but some are just emerging. Her examples of the tech in action were both mundane and ridiculous. The real point is that much of what’s happening was, just a generation ago, inconceivable. That is, it was except to those who had new diverse conceptions of the possible. Meanwhile, in an awesome development, from what I’ve picked up via the Tweetstream, more sessions this year have focused on new models for independent school education. Someone—sorry, I forget who—tweeted that things this year seem to be more about possibilities.
                I also attended two sessions on branding. Both could be reduced to one key idea: how are you going to capture and express naturally what is truly powerful and unique about your school? That’s a very challenging task, more than it might seem. It’s particularly so when, bottom line is, we all have in common that we want to prepare kids for their futures, whatever the nuts and bolts of doing so may be.
                With that in mind, we have to think about young people and the two general notions running through this post. They have a wonderful, refreshing comfort with all sorts of diversity. They have grown up accustomed to what many of us at their age considered the impossible. Naturally, they question everything. Even college (at least as we know it), for so many of us the ultimate marker of success, is coming into question.

                These are all things with which many of us are still coming to grips. But we can’t wait until we become totally comfortable. It’s an increasingly diverse word in every sense, and with that comes even more disruption. I would hope our brands show us not only accepting but also embracing the opportunities that affords us as independent schools who have all we need to be responsive to such a world. It begins with taking a flying leap into possibility.

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