The idea of affiliation in education is shifting. While we still connect to traditional structures by role (unions, associations, etc.) and by where we work (schools, districts, etc.) the digital world is challenging these traditional associations as being paramount and this may be necessary to build the coalition to bring about the shifts many are looking for in our education system. I am convinced that we need a third point of reference to bring about education transformation.
In the BC context, transformation will never take hold if it is seen to belong to the Ministry of Education, the BC Teachers Federation, the BC Superintendents, BC Principals, or any one district. We do need another space where people from all groups can come together and work together. What does this look like? For a couple of decades we have seen the power of how the Network of Performance Based Schools in BC has been an amazing influence over what happens in classrooms. The group is not seen as being owned by anyone or any group — the group belongs to the group and it is guided by the work. Somehow, we need something similar given the larger shifts currently happening in education in BC.
And, I am thinking about this idea of affiliation because of my participation this past week in Ignite Your Passion for Discovery — the brain child of Dean Shareski. Last Wednesday night about eighty-five people, passionate about education, gathered at Relish GastroPub & Bar from 7 to 10 pm to talk about passion in education. There were 14 presenters who had exactly five minutes (20 slides/15 seconds each ) to share their passion. In between presentations there were exchanges for great networking. You could walk around the room, and it had a greater sense of community and was more connected than any staff meeting I have ever been a part of. Almost everyone knew each other from Twitter — some had met in person, but for many it was a first meeting. This is the new world of affiliation — people connected not by role, not by location, but by passion. It is these types of coalitions that are going to bring about shifts and change in education. People were inspired and also reminded they are not alone — others are trying to do similar things. The digital space is still so young, but what I saw were people picking up their digital relationships face-to-face and then were almost eager to get home and continue digitally; the digital and the face-to-face interactions had each enhanced the quality, depth and care of the connections.
Our profession will not be mandated into meeting the needs of modern learners but the power of networks and new thinking around affiliation can help diffuse the work.
I had the real pleasure of being one of the speakers last Wednesday. I have shared by slides and the video of my presentation below. This will give you a sense of the event. My presentation is based on a blog post that I wrote a couple of years ago about swimming.
Slides (thanks to Bob Frid who took many of the amazing photos I used):
Video (thanks Craig Cantlie for videoing the event):
I had recently attended a conference – the kind where a ballroom of people listen to a keynote for an hour – and do that over and over. Comparing the two events I know which was more influential in moving the conversation forward. We need to find new ways to affiliate – more Ignites, more TEDx Events, more EdCamps. The future of changing education is through networks.