In the third grade I wrote a one page essay for my teacher, Ms. Pelham. We had just finished reading an article about the destruction of our forests. A photo of a single tree standing in a felled forest followed the article, and Mrs. Pelham asked us to write about that tree. She didn't ask us to regurgitate the facts; she asked us to look at the image, reflect on it, then write. I recall writing about how the tree felt: its loss of its friends (trees); the change in the community since there was no longer a forest for the birds and wildlife; and the tree's ensuing loneliness. And, I wrote about its hope: That new trees would be planted around it and once again the forest would be lush and green and home for so many.
How do we bridge the gap between reality and what we believe or hope to be possible? How do we react to change or create the change we want to see?
Enterprise and education are struggling with these very issues. Web 2.0 brings the ability to connect, collaborate, create...and without question "change." In this new paradigm, the walls of our institutions can no longer confine us, and a rich, participatory world is emerging. It seems that there are pockets of understanding, and certain people and institutions that are bringing great attitudes and aptitudes to this changing landscape. But for so many I wonder when they will ask the question "Who Moved My Cheese?"
I spent Saturday listening to-and to a limited extent participating in-conversations at the first EduBlogger Conference (a kickoff event to the week ahead at NECC). There are so many thoughts swirling around in my mind. Although it will take a while to process all that I heard, I see the passion and commitment this group has to harness the connective, collaborative, creative energies and move the conversation beyond "the choir". Systemic change is what we're all after (in this case in public and private education but equally as important in enterprise). I believe that this change is going to come not only from our practice/our example ("Be the change you want to see" -Ghandi) but also from our work to dispel the "fear factor" in most of the over 30 crowd-fear that has been embedded by the media and reinforced by the natural human tendency to resist change. We started talking about how that might be accomplished, and I'll probably write more about it in coming posts.
Ms. Pelham exuberantly scrawled "A+++" on my essay; and, 35 years later, my mom still has that paper in her "special drawer". I honestly don't know how well it was written, or if I really deserved such high praise. But, I wonder if maybe that essay reminded them of something: We must be empathetic to the effect of change, but most importantly we must respond to change with an "attitude of possibility" not fear. Harnessing that hope I think we have the foundation necessary to begin the work of bridging the gap between what is real and what is possible.