Monday, December 24, 2007

Before the Conceptual Age can Arrive

My wife and I decided to take some quality time to visit one of our local educational centers, The Roberson Museum and Science Center. While there, the Edwin A. Link Exhibit really spoke to me, so much so that I went to get a piece of paper and pencil and copied down some of the quotes around the room. Here is one:

Americans have long been fascinated by speed, motion, and any kind of vehicle that can explore new places.

We also have a recurring, if not constant belief in progress. The latest technologies often seem to have the potential not just to make life easier but solve large social problems.

The first half of the 20th Century these two themes - the romance of motion and belief in progress through technology came together in the idea of the airplane, and created an exciting concept.

The Air Age would be a time of peace and prosperity made possible by this new technology.

Before the Air Age could arrive, pioneers would have to explore and improve the technology, making it safe and demonstrating its usefulness.

There are many educational pioneers of today exploring and improving the technologies of the 21st Century, in order to make it safe and demonstrate its usefulness. We are fighting virtually the same battle today instead this time it's over a different kind of technology and with a different social problem.

Who are the pioneers of today?
  • Students
  • Teachers
  • Administrators
  • Parents
  • Business Leaders
  • Politicians
  • Community Leaders
Perhaps there are others but I would imagine that to be a true pioneer in the midst of these exciting times that not only do you recognize the urgency and need to change but you act on them as well. The pioneers will blaze the path and the rest will follow in time. Unfortunately, it will take time and unfortunately some will take a fall.

According to Daniel Pink's, A Whole New Mind, we are transitioning from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. Many times transitions and times of change are marked with distinct dissidence, fear, and radical behavior. So it seems to me that before the Conceptual Age can truly arrive, todays pioneers will have to continue to explore and improve the technologies of the 21st Century, making it safe and demonstrate its usefulness. It would appear that history is repeating itself.

A book called Who Moved My Cheese talks briefly about different personalities and how they deal with change. According to Dr. Spencer Johnson, author of Who Moved My Cheese, there are three stages of change:
  1. Stage 1 ~ Preparing People for Change
  2. Stage 2 ~ Gaining Change Skills
  3. Stage 3 ~ Achieving a Change
A true pioneer, David Jakes, has put together a nice foundational plan for schools to begin dealing with this transition into the 21st Century. His plan seems to follow these three basic stages of change and outlines how school districts can begin to handle the transition effectively and in such a way that the staff will feel safe and find usefulness in the tools. Wesley Fryer, another who continues to blaze the path focuses in on very specific points in our educational system that needs to change.

During such times I would like to think that I am on the side of the pioneers handling the change in a way that will help blaze the path. I gotta tell ya though, I am riding on the coat tails of many others through this journey. I certainly feel that I am living and teaching during exciting times, and I look forward to the next year of growth.

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