Friday, December 19, 2008

Slow Dancing in a Burning Room

A business man, after a long and tiring day, is sitting on the Metro ready for the lengthy southbound ride home when another gentlemen and his three young children enter and take a seat. The slow and mundane ride continues and within a few moments the three children are up and running around being incredibly loud and obnoxious. The business man, exhausted from his long day, looks at the father waiting for him to discipline his children but nothing is said.

The annoyed man restrains from saying anything to the neglectful father hoping that someone else on the Metro ride will. Several minutes pass and the children are still being disruptive and so he finally turns around in his seat and aggressively says, "excuse me sir your children are disrupting every one's ride here, could you please tell them to take their seats?" The father responds somewhat dazed and confused and gently says, "ahh,'re right, I'm sorry. We've just left the hospital - their mother has just died and I guess they are not quite sure how to deal with the loss yet. To be honest, neither am I. I am not really sure what I am going to do now."

The business man turned back around in his seat and didn't say a word for the remainder of the trip.

How do you think the business man felt after finding out such news? Do you believe he had changed his way of thinking toward the father and his three motherless children?

My question is what will it take for the System of Education to experience a swift and dramatic change in thinking in order to prepare students for this Century?

After I read Will Richardson's, Meet the New Story, Same as the Old Story I let out a big sigh, and then thought of my own children. Will goes on to say:

" it any wonder that we've stopped dreaming of what can be? Of all the teachers I've had the privilege of speaking and working with in the last few years, I doubt that many of them can even now really dream of a different way, one that celebrates learning and connections and independence in the ways that many of those networked classrooms we see. They might be able to visualize it, but I don't think many see it as a potential reality in their classrooms, in their schools. There are too many reasons why it can't happen. Too many obstacles. Too little vision. (I would be happy to be proven wrong, btw.)"

Then Richardson goes on to quote Ira Socol:

"It is time to stop hiding and start dreaming. It is time to reject what we are doing now: hell, that's easy, we know it does not work. And it is time to reject all the "tinkering around the edges" which wastes our energy and accomplishes nothing. We have to say no to everything that is not sufficiently transformative, which does not change what education is, and put all of our energies into ideas which will transform."

I think one major obstacle that we all face is an ingrained way of thinking, and collectively we will need to experience a paradigm shift, like the business man and the motherless children, if real change will occur. There are far too many people comfortable with the status quo, far too many people that don't completely understand the magnitude of our time (myself included), and I am guessing that until the pressure on the outside becomes greater than the resistance on the inside this shift in thinking will not occur on the massive scale that is needed. Hence the grassroots movement that we are seeing within the edublogsphere and the rally call that Richardson puts out there:

"So, we'll have to continue changing one parent at a time, one teacher at a time, one classroom at a time, one school at a time, connecting the good works and finding a wider and wider audience for the conversation. And we have to continue to create that compelling new reality of what's possible, post by post, tweet by tweet. And, we have to continue to dream it."

I respect this call to duty and accept the challenge but it sounds more like Slow Dancing in a Burning Room.

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