CrosshairsLast week, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the PLP Visioning Boot Camp for Leaders at the Science and Leadership Academy (SLA) in Philadelphia.  Facilitated by Will Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, 20 learning leaders from the United States and Canada participated in an intensive 3-day discussion about strategies and policies designed to help engage students in learning using web2.0 technology.

Throughout the three days, Chris Lehmann, Founding Principal of SLA would participate in our discussions when he was able to step away from preparing SLA for the 2009-2010 school year.  On the final day, he addressed the group for about an hour.  Within the first five minutes, he made a comment that helped to personalize my mission as a learning leader.  Like Chris, I am a relatively young leader with young children.  His children are 3 and 5.  Mine are 5, 8 & 9.  Like Chris, I helped open a school that created an alternate path to citizenry. (Although I left after the first year.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for what Chris has done since SLA opened, both professionally and personally.)  Like Chris, I have some passionate beliefs about school and learning.  Unlike Chris, I am just beginning to share those thoughts more publicly – he’s been a blogger for some time.  I appreciate his willingness to be so transparent with his thinking and learning and I hope to model my efforts after learning participants like Chris.

Just five minutes into his talk, Chris said the following, “The greatest fear I have for my children is that school will beat the love of learning out them.”  Wow.  I actually heard a similar statement before.  Sir Ken Robinson said in his highly popular and entertaining speech at TED we are educating the creativity out of our kids, and as our kids get older we have a tendency to teach them from the waist up and slightly to one side.

We are driving the love of learning out of our kids and my kids are right in the crosshairs.  To date, I have been generally happy with their teachers, but my children are young and have a lot of learning, growing, and maturing yet to do.  Frankly, however, while my children will provide the lens through which I will , on a more global scale, they represent the millions of children who are just entering the public school system.  Children from a variety of races and socio-economic backgrounds who have yet to learn that school is a place where you “shut down” your life in order to be a compliant participant.  Children who haven’t learned that it isn’t cool to enjoy school.  Children who regularly engage in active hands-on learning, active play, and routinely ask questions oblivious of how “dumb” those questions might be.

I have wanted to begin this blog for some time now.  My reluctance to expose my thinking, coupled with a lack of vision have prevented me from doing so.  However, with thanks to Will and Sheryl and their facilitation at the PLP Bootcamp,  I now have the courage to grow, learn, and evolve as a learning leader more publicly- to make that process transparent.  Also, with thanks to Chris and Sir Ken Robinson I have my vision or at least the lens from which I will frame my posts and arguments:

What is school going to look like for my three kids?   How will they be asked to learn?  Will they be fully engaged in their learning?  Will they learn how to learn in an environment where information is dynamic?  Will they be taught how to be a “good” digital citizen?  Will they be allowed to “power up” when they enter the doors of their classrooms?  How will they form their learning networks and how will they learn to collaborate effectively in a 21st century world?

Through that lens (and with those questions as a back drop) I want to explore how my leadership transforms over time to help ensure that Ben, Beth and Emma, along with their age-level peers participate in an engaging, 21st century learning experience.

As a transparent educational leader, I will depend on on your feedback and willingness to push my thinking beyond that of which I write.  As such, comments are encouraged.

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7 Responses to Crosshairs

  1. Well said. Welcome to the blogging world.

  2. Tony,
    First, congrats on your blog. You are in a position to be a part of the change you want to see in the educational environment. With the people you are connecting with, I am sure the shared vision between administrators and educators who are parents of children in the current school system will be a part of the change you want to see so your children are not in the crosshairs.

    I have never met Chris Lehmann in person, but through his blog and Ignite Philly presentation, his passion for learning and change is eminent. His passion is shared by many who have children in a system but were raised by parents who grew up with passive acceptance and societal norms which never questioned the educational status quo for many reasons. I have discussed this at length with many parents and teachers who want to blame each other, but the lack of knowledge and support on how to work together. I know our Superintendent has been going through his own pain and growth as he works to improve RCSS.

    I wrote about Chris for one of my assignments in an Ed Tech leadership course for my degree program. I still share his Ignite Philly presentation and wish we had more people like him in our school systems.

    I also share the feeling of Chris’ statement, “The greatest fear I have for my children is that school will beat the love of learning out them.” As a parent who was in the military, my daughter attended schools in 4 different states. Did the school beat the love of learning out of her? There are no physical scars, but I believe the damage is done. She will in time have a significant emotional event (SEE) which will lure her back on the path of lifelong learning but what about the 52% of her senior class that did not graduate?

    The questions you pose have been asked before but considering your position, your growing PLN, and that you are a parent will connect you with others who are improving the situation…even if it is one person at a time, one blog post at a time, and/or one learning environment at a time.

    I look forward to your blog posts as you share your journey of transformational leadership and the success of your children and your endeavors as you improve the system.

  3. tbaldasaro says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful response. Last week was the first time I had met Chris and although I had heard of him before, I was not aware of how powerful his words/thoughts/actions were.

    Having played a part in opening a local school here in New Hampshire, I have an enormous amount of respect for what Chris has been able to accomplish in just a few short years at SLA. I’m with you, I look forward to learning more from Chris and others like him. Similarly, I’m anxious to share my journey through my writing.

    Thanks again.

  4. Pingback: Where the Culminating Event is Just the Beginning | TransLeadership

  5. Pingback: Powerful Learning Practice, LLC » Blog Archive » When the Culminating Event is Just the Beginning

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