August 24, 2010 Posted by Barbara Bray in Learning Environments, Online Learning Communities, Professional Development
Archive for August 2010
August 24, 2010 Posted by Barbara Bray in 21st Century Skills, Learning Environments, Online Learning Communities
Are we growing less creative?Care2's article Are American children growing less creative? shared Tests since 1990 show a steady decline in the creativity levels of American children, despite the fact that IQ tests indicate they are getting smarter. The focus for the last 9 years has been on increasing student achievement based on standardized tests. Maybe our children are learning how to memorize facts and increasingly doing better on spelling tests and Jeopardy games. Even the TV show "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" encourages students to recall facts. There is no problem-solving, critical thinking or creativity involved in these activities. The 5th graders on this show are stoked when they get the answer right but there is only one right answer. Life doesn't always work that way. What we need are students who come up with the questions and are able to take some risks, find multiple ways to answer any of the questions or solve problems. They need to be able to think on their feet and jump in with new innovative ideas. Who knew even five years ago that people would be listening to mp3 files with an iPod or that cell phones could access the Internet. Email is old school. Now people text, use Facebook and Twitter to communicate. Traditional schools are closing because of so many reasons and, in my opinion, we need to rethink what a school is and redesign our learning environments if we want our students to be productive 21st century citizens.
Rethinking that DecisionYou are a change agent and go to a school to discuss with the administrator how the teachers are going to change the way they teach. You think you and the administrator are talking the same language and design the professional development program. In reality, the change that the administrator has in mind might be completely different than what you had in mind. That administrator might have already made a decision on what they expected for their teachers -- no matter what you and the administrator agreed upon. Same with the teachers. Let's say you are a coach and set up a coaching agreement with a teacher. That teacher comes to the table with their own expectations on what they want to learn. However, they don't express those expectations and just agree on what you decided on together. I read Seth Godin's blog The Decision before the Decision where he states "The decision before the decision is the box. When you think outside the box, what you're actually doing is questioning the decision before the decision." Being a change agent means that you are questioning the decisions you believe have already been decided on and bring to the table strategies on why you and the administrator or teacher need to rethink those decisions.
The Power of We ThinkThe old business model where we own what we create is out of date and does not work anymore. That's why social media like Facebook and Twitter are growing exponentially. Sharing ideas is powerful. You cannot own an idea. I was asked yesterday by a university if they could pay me for an article I wrote to include in a new book for principals. I thought "how cool" but then realized that the little money I would get for an article I wrote is not where I want to make any money. I want to get my ideas out there. Change is tough, takes time, and is very challenging. If we all hold on to the old paradigm of "no - you can't have it. It's mine" then we will never innovate and grow. As soon as I changed my mindset, things started happening for me. I encourage you to rethink your We Think possibilities. I came across this video by Charles Leadbetter that is very interesting and talks about the importance of sharing and creativity. We are in the middle of a revolution and many of us don't know it. Everything is changing. Creativity will win because that is the only way we will succeed in the 21st century.