5 Quotes that Changed My Thinking

One of the new things I’m doing this year is posting lists in a series I’m creatively calling “5 Things”. You don’t really know that yet, because I haven’t actually gotten around to posting any lists, but trust me. They’re in the notebook, and I’ll get around to writing them up soon eventually.

In digging through my notes on #educon 2.6, I realized that my five takeaways are actually five lists, each with five items. The first of these is this list of five quotes that made me think:

“The innovative thing we did with MOOCs was to take the password off bad 1990s online courses.” — David Wiley
This was particularly poignant for me because my chief exposure to Dr. Wiley prior to this weekend came in the week-long session he facilitated as part of the #change11 MOOC a couple years ago. His point is well taken in this context, but I think he was referring to the xMOOC model which is essentially a rebranding of the open online courses that were in vogue half a decade ago. Those courses, in turn, were largely the rebranded PowerPoint slides and course materials from college lecture courses. My takeaway is that we don’t really understand what MOOCs are. Maybe I should blog about that. Or maybe it’s a buzzword that is fading and it doesn’t matter.

lehmann“This is not a school for the kids, it is a school OF the kids.” — Chris Lehmann
The Science Leadership Academy is precise and purposeful in the language it uses. If you ask a teacher at SLA what she teaches, she will tell you she teaches students. “I teach students social studies.” The learner has to come first. In a similar way, this comment, made during Saturday’s opening, embodies the feeling that I get every time I walk into that school. The school belongs to the students. They allow the adults to come in and help out. There aren’t a lot of schools like that, but the ones that exist are very special places. We need to look for ways to make more schools like that.

“Having technology is going to accelerate. We need to decide WHAT it is going to accelerate.” — Richard Culatta, Director, Office of Educational Technology, United States Department of Education
Everything gets faster as technology gets better. From communication and broadcast technologies to computation and discovery, technology helps make our lives easier and faster. We can use that technology to cram more information into our students’ heads in a smaller amount of time. Or, we could use that technology to change how and what we teach, to do things that were previously impossible. The United States thrived on innovation in the 20th century. Ingenuity has helped us through some very difficult times as we have moved through industrialization to the service economy to the information economy. Technology has helped us win wars, both on the battlefield and in the marketplace. Yet we’ve never done a good job of teaching creativity and critical thinking and problem solving and innovation. But now we have the capacity to do that.

“If you don’t get over being the smartest person in the room, you will miss the wisdom of the room. The room is always smarter.” — Chris Lehmann
Yes, Chris gets two quotes. What can I say? It’s his conference. He probably got at least one of them from John Dewey. I hear he has a time machine and goes back for coffee with Dewey on a regular basis. But we can all use a lesson on humility. And in education circles, Chris is a celebrity. We all see the world through different lenses. We all have perspectives and insights to share. Sure, there are many situations where I’ve been sitting in meetings or conference presentations or PD sessions thinking, “I can’t believe we’re having this conversation AGAIN.” I’ve publicly accused people of not being groundbreaking, and some of them took those comments VERY seriously. But we can all learn from one another if we get over this hierarchy of “smarter than” or “better connected” or “more educated” and just talk to one another as people.

“There are two jobs in a school. Either you are a teacher or you’re supporting a teacher.” Alya Gavins, Principal, Mission Hill School
We forget our learner-centric focus sometimes. We lose sight of the fact that we’re in schools to teach children. We get caught up — I get caught up — in wireless networks and Windows updates and testing requirements and server redundancy and blah blah blah. We teach kids. Some of us do that directly. The rest of us help those who do. If you don’t have one of those roles, why are you working in a school?

One thought on “5 Quotes that Changed My Thinking

  1. I Couldn’t attend educon this year- I have found some quotes from the conference stick with me and shift my mindset, influencing my day to day interactions with kids & staff. Thanks for posting these, they are powerful and require real reflection.

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