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RCE 5 and 6: Positive thinking and elephant bites

 If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right. Henry Ford

Mrs. Weiler’s Law: Anything is edible if it is chopped finely enough.

In a recent blog post, I visited the Radical Center of Education and suggested some principles for achieving this enlightened state of mind and how it will result in a change philosophy that may result in change actually occurring.

  1. Adopt an "and" not "or" mindset.
  2. Look for truth and value in all beliefs and practices.
  3. Respect the perspective of the individual.
  4. One size does not fit all (kids or teachers).
  5. If you think it will work, it probably will.
  6. The elephant can only be eaten one bite at a time. Or is it that you can't leap the chasm in two bounds?
  7. To travel fast, travel alone. To travel far, travel with others.
  8. Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know."
  9. Measurement is good, but not everything can be measured.
  10. Know and keep your core values.

If you think it will work, it probably will.

Those of us who wish to maintain the Radical Center of Education need to remember the critical role attitude plays in change efforts - especially those involving technology. If we set about determining whether teachers are using tech tools well, we need to ask about attitude as well as skills.

This is a drum I beat often in this blog. And even give a a presentation about. Never underestimate the power of attitude. 'Nuff said

The elephant can only be eaten one bite at a time. Or is it that you can't leap the chasm in two bounds?

As much as they may be needed, radical changes in education are less likely than incremental changes. Despite Disraeli's often quoted  caveat, "The most dangerous strategy is to jump a chasm in two leaps," stepping too far outside a teacher orbitelele.jpg administrator's comfort zone means leaving the Radical Center of Education and long-term, universal change is unlikely. And the larger the leap expected to be made in a single bound, the fewer willing to take the chance. And nobody makes anybody do anything in education.

The more analogous a technology application is to something the teacher is already doing, the more likely the teacher is to adopt it. Mobile laptop carts - not too popular; interactive white boards - hugely successful.

Ya ask me, Vygotsky's proximal development theory holds for adult learners as well as for kids - you've always got to have some old knowledge from which to hang the new learning. Chasm leaping doesn't allow for this; bite-sized elephant eating does.

I've never apologized for taking an incremental approach to technology implementation in the classroom. (See The Technology Upgrade). This approach gets teachers actually using the tech to improve the classroom experience, even if it isn't radically overhauling it.

As much as I might like it were otherwise, technology is not really a catalyst for change, but simply a tool for change. It can be an effective and exciting way to help implement best practices driven by the content area research, educational theory, or even state/national mandates, but change shouldn't start with technology. 

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Reader Comments (1)

It's about using a little time for some meditation and while you are doing it think positively. Do this at the start of the day and you will set yourself up.


December 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

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