Being at Educon feels like getting run over by a train that is spilling over with new ideas. After getting up and brushing off the dirt, I’m trying to scramble around picking up the pieces of inspiration all around me. And I still have another day of sessions ahead.
When I started deconstructing Candy Land during my first session, I knew that the people here think differently. At this Hack Jam we broke into small groups and had to re-invent a new game that involved lego people, play dough, Monopoly money, and a Candy Land board. As we played, new rules were made and we discussed what it means to be a “hacker.” I never thought that this was a role that I wanted my students to take on, because the media portrays computer hackers as bad people who create viruses. I learned that hackers are people who take something existing and create something unexpected out of it. To put it simply, it’s innovation.
I want to teach my students to do real creative thinking and getting outside of the box. I want to assign projects that allow students to truly explore their passions. For me to facilitate this, I need to be an education hacker. Most of what we happens in schools, even ours, is pretty traditional. As I write this, I just heard an Educon speaker ask, “How is risk taking encouraged in schools? It’s not.” Even at Innovation Academy, it’s challenging to create real change. Another speaker just said, “Failure is motivating. Success is paralyzing.”
There are so many ideas out there, and our job as teachers in the 21st century is to curate all the information that’s swirling around us. I went to another workshop where the presenter whizzed through dozens of online resources that help people with curation. Whew! One of the big lessons that I heard was the importance of networking. When it’s all overwhelming, we can start by choosing one person who we respect and following whatever they follow.
One of those inspiring people I’ve met here is Chris Lehmann, the founding principal at Science Leadership Academy. Even though this school is super tech and science focused, their real heart comes from their advisory program. Yesterday he and other SLA teachers led a session dissecting the ethic of care. We explored how schools can “care for” students instead of just “caring about” students. One teacher said that she tells her students that she loves them “because they breathe.”
Maybe it’s that simple. If students feel loved, what else matters?