Saturday, 23 November 2013

Week # 14 What is School For?

The big question - what is school for?  In the challenge this week, we are asked to listen to Seth Godin's talk about what is school for.  Good to watch, but I think all he does is explain how schools developed out of the Industrial Revolution.  Everyone should know that, he tells us nothing new in this talk.

In that sense, the talk is a little disappointing - he states the obvious.

The challenge for this week is - I encourage you to blog about some of the things that you do with your staff to help understand where they are at, and how to move them forward.

Talk is cheap.  I really don't want to spend much time on this question.  We all know that education is changing rapidly with the onset of new technology and new learning.  We are all aware of this and each of us is working to manage the transitions that are taking place.

How do I move teachers forward?  I think it is a bit presumptuous to think that I do anything to move teachers forward.  The teachers are doing this themselves.  I have been trying to spend more time in our teacher triads (three schools - groups of teachers working together) to find out what they are working on.

What I find every time is that teachers know what needs to be done to move things forward.  They naturally come up with methods that will encourage higher order thinking and good problem-solving skills.  My job is to encourage and support them in this journey.  I need to make sure teachers have the time necessary to collaborate and innovate.

If I asked, I think our teachers would say that the purpose of school is to help students become independent thinkers able to adapt to the rapidly changing world that we are all confronted by.

I am uncomfortable with the idea that I as principal am moving teachers forward.

I believe we need to focus on the school as the locus of innovation and change.  The individuals in the school must connect not with the district but with fellow teachers and the wider world that has been opened up by Twitter and a myriad of other social media sites.

We know what we need to do and we are using the methods and tools we need to advance our own concept of what the school is supposed to do.

Critics like Seth Godin take the easy way out - it is very popular these days to criticize the school for not having a good idea on how to teach into the new century.

As long as we move away from the tired old methods of delivering professional development and we continue to empower teachers to take charge of their own learning we will continue to innovate and change.

As long as we continue connecting to the wider educational world through social media we will all come to a better understanding of what school is all about.

It certainly will not depend on the vision of one leader to make this happen.


  1. So true the school is the centre of innovation. Giving teachers the chance to connect and collaborate and build on real learning experiences with their students. Supporting teachers' journey and reflecting on learning will never stop innovative learning at the school level.

    1. Thanks. The more I witness teacher collaboration the more I am convinced that facilitating this type of PD should be our main priority - all other efforts pale in comparison.