"There's an assumption that schools are for students' learning. Well, why aren't they just as much for teachers' learning?" - Seymour Sarason
"I'm not asking you to change, I'm asking you to learn."
Missy Emler, Change School v3
While mowing the front yard the following evening, I begin thinking about famous individuals who went through some form of transformation, historical figures, sports heroes, celebrities in pop culture. What preceded their conversion? All of the situations I could think of supported Missy's assertion, there was some kind of challenge, a period of reflection, possibly an epiphany, that resulted in learning, and in turn, transformative change.
Change is difficult. I have been curious whether people find the name change.school to be a bit threatening. What is the typical reaction when people are asked to change? My response would be something along the lines of, "Why, what's wrong with me?" That's what I find so sensical about Emler's advice, ask people to do something that is challenging, organic, and nourishing, change follows naturally.
The following evening, Wednesday, Will Richardson referencing Seymour Sarason, challenges our breakout chat room by asking, "What do you mean by learning?" This question is more complicated than it seems. Sarason tells us without an agreed upon, working definition of learning, school improvement becomes significantly harder to achieve.
Finally, after being held a few days in suspense, Bruce Dixon, while moderating tonight's conversation provided us with my favorite definition of learning, also from Sarason,
"Productive learning is a process which engenders and reinforces wanting to learn more."There you have it, my takeaway from this week's sessions of change.school and the secret sauce of educational reform are learning. Think about how many of the emotionally charged issues facing administrators, teachers, students and their caregivers, get framed appropriately when we keep learning in its deserved place of prominence. Afterall, the business of school is learning. Pass the teriyaki, please.
Related ReadingSchwartz, K. "How School Leaders can Attend to the Emotional Side of Change," Mindshift. October 20, 2017.
Wheeler, S. "Outdated Practices", Learning with Es. October 22, 2017.
photo credit: wuestenigel Tomato Sauce and Peppers via photopin (license)