Musing…..when does ‘Best Of’ become just what we do?

So, our little prototype that we are ‘holding lightly’ keeps getting accolades, receiving interest from others and being the subject of very keen discussion and questioning from those outside of the school:

“Is this something the whole state could roll out?”

“Can you tell us how our own school community could get this happening?”  (See here)

“We have blockers…….how can we run with this despite them?”

“Tell us how you started?”

“What has made it work so well?”

And I’m feeling a tad weary……….an array of things have combined to put me in this state I suppose…..the juxtaposition of a day of questioning and doubting, followed by a day of admiration for what our school is  achieving  (on a number of fronts) from a group of innovative, creative,  forward thinking folk …….followed by a day of winning an award for that which we must continue to hold lightly.

And I wonder……when does ‘best of‘ –  a program of learning that happens outside of ‘real’ learning simply become just what we do?    And alternatively, at what point, are elements of our ‘best of’ program allowed to start creeping into mindsets?  Currently, our little ‘best of’  is admired by those inside – but mainly I think because of the work that is perceived to go into it……and the level of engagement that is obvious……and the commitment of those involved in it……BUT is it really valued by those inside as something that exhibits ‘best of’ or even good learning?    I don’t think so.

And when I reflect on the admiration and accolades we have got this year – and the deep questioning and interest I receive from outsiders as a result – I realise it’s because these outsiders want to know how to duplicate what they see as tangible evidence of a different kind of learning.    Their challenges are often vast in achieving this – deeply embedded structures that serve to maintain the status quo,  deeply embedded mindsets that make it difficult to see any other way or, indeed any reason for any other way.   Additionally, these people asking me the questions are outside the system or have left the system because of the factors I mention in the previous question.  So, the challenges are often seen as so difficult that a starting point is not even clear.  And that’s why they ask me.

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But I think of this program and simply think of how much further we have got to go.   And sometimes this is overwhelming.   I do value what we have done, that path we have taken and what we have achieved………. and I see clearly the crucial part that design thinking has played in our journey – an important and integral role that is deserving of a whole post on its own…….but I am dwelling on how much further there is to go…….

And I think of a presentation that was made at the e20 Awards Evening last night.  One of the most interesting presentations during the evening for me came from Megan Forward, an educator and artist who submitted a project which addresses the beautiful, organic nature of good learning.   It had nothing to do with technology and nothing to do with progress or innovation – rather,  it was stripping away everything and getting to the  very bare basics ……. it was fabulous.   This photo of one of her slides presents her ideas   And as I read it I realised how much alignment there was to our little “Best Of” program…….

Thanks Megan – for bringing me back to what is always going to be most important……and for reminding me why we keep going despite our weariness.

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