As a follow-up to The Digital Coalition which considered the power of our network to lead the evolution in K-12 education, I want to focus on one of the most common presentation themes – our own children.
I first encountered the approach in a discussion by Will Richardson about five years ago and, since then almost every presenter I see, hear, or read about educational reform, evokes the example of his or her own school-aged children at some point during the presentation. I saw it last fall when Brett Conkin explained what attracted him to take on the TEDxUBC project, to our District Principal of Technology and Innovation, Gary Kern, who speaks about his three school-aged children. And, in many of my own discussions about system change, I often reference my own kids.
There’s a very good reason why we do so. It boils down to this – we are deeply concerned that, left to the natural progression of such things, it will take 10 to 20 years to bring about the changes we believe are needed. At that rate, our own children will not benefit from the change. This is the urgency that is driving many of us.
Yet, this urgency for change is not currently reflected in the larger community. After all, we have an outstanding system and we have a familiar system. Parents see a system that closely resembles the one they attended as a student and that is reassuring. I know I am reassured by the similarities in my kids’ schooling to mine, but I also realize that their world is vastly different from the one I graduated into 20 years ago.
We – many of us who blog and tweet on the topic on a regular basis – are between the ages of 35 and 50 (yes, I know this is a sweeping and slightly exaggerated generalization). We are established in our careers, many of us have moved into positions of teacher/administrative leadership and we have young families with children in the system now. We applaud the systematic evolution of the educational system, the growing student engagement and the increased relevance in learning.
But if it doesn’t happen quickly enough, our own kids will miss out on the benefits.
It is this that drives a lot of our urgency. I am a bit selfish — I want the system I believe in, and envision for my own kids. I also want it for your kids; and all kids — but it is not okay with me if it takes another decade until we embrace digital devices in schools, it is not okay if we continue to perpetuate schooling as a 9-3 activity, and it is not okay for me as a parent to not have greater engagement.
I know we are in the midst of something big. And to be clear, there are amazing things happening in our schools. That said, it is GO time, for our kids, and for all kids.