9.19.2008

Endorsing a recent ISED listserve posting

As a next generation (b.1966) school head myself, I was particularly taken with the comments pasted in below by a passionate and innovative school technology director-- but of course, birth-year has nothing really to do with it. All it does take is a commitment to, and reasonably good knowledge of, what 21st century education needs to be:

Once again I am thrilled to be associated with the collective minds of the listserv. Fred, Chris and Renee point the way forward towards education in the "real world." I quote the real world to highlight the essence of their points of view: how do we solve problems. Too often, way too often, way way too often, schools are the institutions of conservativeness reflecting old solutions to new issues. Until all of us have a model that reflects the approach that Rye Country Day School, Green Hill and Seven Hills School promotes, educators are living in the past. There are few of us who do not understand this.

So how is that accomplished? It must lay in the hands of leadership. School leadership: Division Heads. Deans. Heads.

Any ideas how this can be the standard, not exceptional? The best I have heard from a significant leader of Independent Schools is that we have to wait until the Heads are younger: five to ten years. I am too old to be comforted by this. Can this be true? Is this realistic? Is this viable? As a business model, can we wait that long?

I believe we, independent schools, bring important thinking to education. High standards of content and the opportunity for adaptation to new ideas such as those espoused by Daniel Pink, Sir Kenneth Robinson and Pat Bassett. But, too often, we are too slow to react in a world where slow reactions cost significantly. While pencils are useful, so are PDAs, cellphones and wireless tools such as treos, iPhones, iPod touches, Blackberrys and the like. Why can't we adapt our instructional styles to reflect that?

David F. Withrow, Director of Technology, Harford Day School

2 comments:

SCMorgan said...

Jonathan,
I've just discovered your thoughtful blog, and I've passed it along to Twitter colleagues and a team I work with at my school. I agree with your initial comment here, and David's reflection as well. I look forward to reading more of your writing.

JH said...

Hi Jonathan:
I too am pleased to have discovered your blog.
It's not the age of school leaders that is the key to change. I think it is rather an attitude to learning. There are plenty of younger teachers/ administrators with a need for control and a desire to be the sage on the stage. And there are older teachers/ leaders who trust learners and are interested in the democratization of knowledge. The capacity to learn and change is the key. And there are many who talk a great game and have all the tools of technology but actually use them in the service of antiquated models of learning.
On the topic of Daniel Pink - have you read Gary Stager on what he calls "The worst book of the century"? Makes for a good contrarian pov.

- Josie http://thecompasspoint.blogspot.com/