Learning Conversations

Come sit with me. Well talk, well ask big questions

Author: Heidi (page 1 of 2)

Make Your Room as a Dissertation Writing Service

If you are having trouble writing your dissertation, there may be a few factors that come into play. First, you may not be interested in the dissertation writing, which means that you should try some writing services and ask them “can you write my essay for me” instead. Second, you may not have time to write all your dissertation chapters, leading you to ask for help and buy them from online dissertation writing services. That is all well and good, but some students cannot afford themselves to buy dissertation chapters online.

The best thing you can do for yourself in this situation is arranged your space to allow yourself to write dissertation better. Even if you are pressed for time writing a lot of assignments, being in a serene environment can help you work faster and better. Instead of looking for dissertations online to buy, try to settle your space first.

College dorm rooms can be a disaster zone, especially when you or your roommate are messy people. This is not a conducive area for studying and you can’t always pull all-nighters at the library anyway. Don’t get us started on expensive coffee shops either. So what can you do? Here are our tips.

Why go out when you can stay in to write your dissertation?

1. First of all, you need to clean.

Before you can rearrange anything in your room, you need to tidy up first. Let go of everything that you do not need. Take photos of loose notes and look at them through your phone or laptop instead. Throw them away. Do the same for any materials that are placed on paper. Recycle them instead. Otherwise, throw all memorabilia that means nothing to you. If you think it looks good, ask your roommate. If they say no, throw it away.

2. Next, you need to organize.

After you achieved a clean space, it is time to maximize the heck out of it. Adjust your desk to receive natural light from the side. Not from the front, because it causes distractive glare from outside. Not directly behind you, because it can block the light that you need. Even if you have a lamp, natural light lets you study better during the day. Categorize your study materials and put them in a specific place. Never put anything else in their place.

3. Lastly, you need to noise control.

You cannot tell the world to shut up, but you can shut your ears. Invest in noise-cancelling headphones. There are cheap ones on the market, but you should maximize them as much as possible. Do your best to avoid any distractions that you do not welcome. Even if you listen to music, make sure that you like it when you are studying. Choose a genre that lets you study the best. If possible, ask your roommate to be as quiet as possible when you study.

If none of that works, you may need to check for some online dissertation writing services because you will have a hard time writing on your own. Otherwise, you can just leave and find a quiet place to study every night.

Participate

It began, as many things do, with some heartfelt conversations.
Sincere, forthright, perhaps a bit idealistic.

– from Starbucks brochure “Of Coffee & Community”

I love conversations, particularly when we’re talking about raising our children and education! I’ve loved the EdCamp model and its way of honoring/surfacing the wisdom already in the room.

I’m really feeling the urge to move beyond the talking though, and to get on with the learning part! After all, the discussions have never been an end onto themselves, in my experience – we all want to change things, not just talk, don’t you think?

I’m passionate about a couple of things:

1) I firmly believe that parents need to be part of their children’s education. It’s in the children’s best interest. It supports parents and family relationships. And it most certainly needs to support teachers and systemic growth/change.

2) I also believe that the relationships between teachers and parents, in support of student learning and growth, are critical to move the system forward and make the kinds of changes we want for our children. We need to “be the village” that raises our kids together.

I’d like to start DOING stuff. Call it inquiry learning. Call it action research. Call it PLNs or networks of learners. The fact is that I can’t “do” this stuff alone – it’s about communities coming together to collaborate, ask questions and see what works.

I know I can support these conversations. I’m really good at brainstorming and coming up with ideas, asking big questions. I have wide and diverse networks. And I’ve got all sorts of technology experiences and contacts.

I will be at EdCamp36 in Surrey, BC on August 29th, 2013 http://edcamp.wikispaces.com/edcamp+Surrey
I’m hoping we can have a session there about engaging parents to support student achievement.

Or contact me – comment below or email me: heidi (at) learningconversations (dot) ca

Let’s put together some teams and try stuff…

The Best Parent-Teacher Interactions

As the president of my district’s parent group (DPAC), my biggest goal is to support better parent-teacher relationships.

At our orientation meeting at the beginning of the 2008/09 school year, one of our amazing District staff development experts came to present about the importance of initiating conversations with your children’s teachers.

And as part of that presentation, she guided us through an “appreciative inquiry” exercise to help us connect with the best parent-teacher interactions we’ve had.

The exercise went like this:
– on an index card, write down you name, your children’s ages and the school(s) that they attend.
– write about a time that you had a great interaction with a teacher
– take your index card, introduce yourself to someone you don’t know, and describe your story to that person (and vice versa)
– trade cards with that person
– find another person you don’t know and tell them the story of the person whose card you’re now holding (and vice versa)
– trade cards with the second person
– find a third person you don’t know and tell them the story of the person whose card you’re now holding (and vice versa)
– choose three words that describe the stories that you heard

What would happen if every parent-teacher conversation, conference or disagreement was conducted with caring, support, encouragement and respect?  What would our chances of finding successful solutions for our children be if we could remember to co-operate, be open, understand and appreciate each other?

At one of our DPAC meetings, we talked about this graphic and the kinds of interactions that produced results.  We talked about the things that get in the way of these kinds of interactions why don’t we do this all the time??  And we talked about ways of increasing the likelihood of each interaction including all of these qualities.

What if we all, in our learning communities, talked about the kinds of interactions parents want to have with teachers and how we can help each other create those situations? I think Ill raise this discussion again at the beginning of the new school year approaching, to get everyone thinking about the positive interactions possible for us.

We’re all human and it’s hard to remember to focus on the big picture all the time.  In my opinion, if we’re all talking about the same questions and have the same goals, then we’ve just tripled the probability that one of us (parent, teacher or administrator) will REMEMBER to pull us all back to our real goal to have caring, positive interactions that help find solutions for our children!

And isn’t that what really matters?

Aim High

Through my Twitter network, I came across a video of Sir Ken Robinson’s talk at the Apple Education Leadership Summit in April, 2008.

He finishes with a quote that I want to remember:

Someone said the great problem with human societies is not that we aim too high and fail, but that we aim too low and succeed.

And for education, for the future, for all of us collectively, I think we all have to accept that for now, and for ever, we have to aim very high in education and we have to succeed.”

– Sir Ken Robinson

http://www.edutopia.org/sir-ken-robinson-creativity-part-one-video

For me, I’ve always felt the same way about my parenting I aim very high and I have to succeed.  This is not something I’m willing to fail at…

That mindset certainly has helped me feel the urgency to make my parenting choices consciously and to do the personal reflection and change that need to happen to allow me to make those better parenting choices.

Otherwise, it’s just too easy for me to go day to day, year to year always doing things, always busy but not getting done the stuff that’s really important!

At a District workshop I attended yesterday, Assistant Superintendent Sylvia Russell spoke passionately that it’s important for us to remember that “No child is expendable!” I heard many people discussing that again during the session – it obviously resonated with all of us. It’s not good enough to do our best – we want to remember to do whatever it takes to help every child feel like a success.

What does that mean to me? It means that every one of us needs to hold a central belief in our hearts – that every child is capable of feeling like a success. And therefore, it’s only a matter of being curious, asking questions, researching, trying new things, working together and being creative until we find that solution that we already trust exists. That we won’t give up. Ever.

That’s how I parent too. I begin by having faith that my children and I will find our way forward and that they will grow up to be wonderful, contributing and whole human beings. And then, even when I’ve lost hope in a particular moment and can’t see my way forward, I still rely on that overall faith in the outcome to remind myself that I’ll find the way and we just need to keep trying.

And that’s what matters…

A Trifecta for Change

Keeping student learning at the center of all we do in the education system is absolutely critical – I have no doubt of this! In fact, as parents, we have exceptionally high standards and expect schools to have a 100% success rate. Our District talks proudly of its graduation rate – up in the high nineties (percentile), it’s pretty impressive. And I still say “not good enough!” Ask any parent if they want their child to be the kid that falls through the cracks? I doubt you’ll get any takers!

So that means one thing to me – we all need to be part of the education “system.” We all need to work together: students, parents, teachers, staff, leaders, politicians, communities.

These are things we all know. And we talk about them a lot – what to change, what we want, what we dream of, what we value, etc

The hard part is figuring out how to DO all these things? How to embed these beliefs into every thought, word and deed? How do we shift a system? How do we change the world? These are, indeed, big questions…

David Truss, Dave Sands and I have had many “big” talks about educational change over the last few years. We keep coming back to three core components to change – and that all three need to work together for success. We’ve talked about them as leadership, systems (technology, policies and procedures, administrative requirements, etc…), and shared learning (or Pro-D). Projects undertaken in only one of the three areas without considering/incorporating the other two areas inevitably fail or, at a minimum, underperform and lack sustainability.

I’ve come to think of the three areas that David, Dave and I talk about as a trifecta, of sorts. All three are needed to support innovative, systemic change. All three need to be considered and embedded into all we do in order to “win this race” for 100% success. As I reflected on Elisa Carlson’s post about Engaging Digital Natives, I got thinking again about change – the “engrossed” learning that she describes, I want for my children. For ALL children – and all adults too!

So, what will move us forward? How will we spread change and all the great things happening in pockets further and further, until we have a system we no longer recognize?

Here are my thoughts:

1) Relationships for Learning

(what David, Dave and I originally called “shared learning”)

I bet on relationships first. If there were only one thing I could focus my time on, it would be on building trust and relationships between all involved in our education system. Because if we have solid relationships, then we communicate with each other, we share our challenges and our ideas, and we learn together. And that, alone, changes my child’s learning experience in a classroom, even if all other challenges stay the same.

We have to remember that not only student-teacher relationships are critical to learning, but an entire community of healthy relationships are needed. Andy Hargreaves talks about the need for active trust to support systemic excellence and change, because we need learners to take risks. So we need supportive relationships between parents and teachers, teachers and students, all peer groups (students with students, teachers with teachers, etc), principals and teachers, etc

There are so many approaches, ideas, methodologies and projects – so many great things I see happening all over the place! But there is only one FIRST step in education change: we have to start by knowing each other. We have to encourage each other to remember that we’re all human and we all care about the same, fundamental things – children growing up to be happy, healthy, self aware and contributing citizens. We have to keep trying to remember not to assume or judge each other (and ourselves). We have to move beyond the old system and find ways to work together instead of fight against each other.

I never underestimate the power of the “system” (see #3 below). Barry Oshry writes about organizational behavior and how systems have personalities that inevitably influence us. We’re so used to doing things the way we always have and operating by habit. And particularly when under the influence of busy lives, it’s only natural to fall into old  habits – in this case, the old habits of treating parents as “clients” or the outsiders, doing “to” instead of doing “with” and falling back to assumptions about each other because it’s easier than the uncomfortable and vulnerable work of revealing yourself as an individual (with all the human foibles we all wish we could hide).

It’s easy to get frustrated with people – it’s much more effective to get curious. Ask questions. Don’t assume. Listen with an open mind. Don’t judge. Let yourself and those around you be whole, imperfect and amazing human beings. Open doors and take first steps in getting to know each other. Start by sharing something about yourself – you have a dog, you like snowboarding, you want to travel to Paris some day. Something that let’s people see you as an individual. Connect. It’s the foundation!

Parents need professionals. Professionals need parents.
The children need us both.

-Federation of Invisible Disabilities

2) Creating a Space for Learning

(Originally “Leadership)

I bet on the leadership needed for building communities in second place because we need those relationships to move beyond one-on-one interactions. We need support and modeling to learn how to trust that we can take risks (and won’t be made fun of or reprimanded), to come together as groups that collaborate and share, to decide that it’s safe in this space to be vulnerable and uncomfortable.

We all need leaders/mentors who encourage us without judging, who ask questions instead of give answers, who inspire us and who motivate us to believe in ourselves. Sometimes, we need the wisdom of an expert learner to help us keep going when we’ve lost hope and to walk beside us without taking over.

This could be a principal working with her staff, a teacher working with students, a student leader working with peers, a parent who advocates for greater involvement, etc We are all leaders in different ways and at different times.

Ultimately, creating a “safe space” for learning has to do (first and foremost) with who we are, not simply what we say or do. It takes silence, self reflective practices and conscious effort to be able to “show up” for those around you in a whole, healthy and supportive way. Without baggage. This is where Gandhi’s “be the change you want to see in the world” becomes the core guiding principle!

We cannot force someone to learn. We cannot mandate or legislate change. Ultimately, we can’t even motivate people to make the changes we want them to make. Goodness knows, I’ve tried! My daughter is a beautiful, smart, sensitive young lady. She is also disorganized, quick to anger or frustration, anxious and vulnerable. She’s quick to beat up on herself (afraid I’ve modeled that for her all too well…) and hates to hear feedback (because it all feels like criticism to her). Knowing that, in a way, I’ve “done” this to her through modeling my own insecurities and reactions, I sometimes feel like I have to also “fix” this.

It may be obvious to anyone from the outside that I can’t “fix” her, but fear and overwhelming love for our children isn’t always conducive to logical parenting choices… No surprise, then, that my dear daughter always fought harder when I tried to “teach” her – because every time I started some mini-lecture on the need for self control or having to clean her room, all she heard was “mom thinks there’s something wrong with me and I’m going to be a failure…” That led to nothing but more fights and more self doubt – the exact OPPOSITE of what I wanted for her!

Instead, I had to deal with my own fears FIRST. Only then could I start to learn to “hold a space” for her – to start every conversation by thinking “I love this child so much, how can I say what I want to say with that love at the core, so that she’ll hear me?” I don’t tell her what she’s done “wrong” anymore – she knows it (and desperately fears it) already. I ask questions instead. “How did it feel to be so upset? Did you like that? What do you want to do differently?” I ask her “How can I help?” or “Does that seem reasonable?” or “Can you think of a similar time when you found a solution?” I say “I love you” and offer her a hug (more and more, she asks for hugs now).

I set expectations and hold her to them by reminding her that she is capable – because sometimes she’s afraid and has lost hope, so helping her remember that she has successfully handled such situations in the past helps her remember to trust or believe in herself. And only once she lets go of the fear does her mind open to all the solutions that were sitting in front of her all the time! I could have told her what to do until I was blue in the face and she wouldn’t have done anything – because a mind closed with fear is blind. But simply to say “I believe in you and here’s the proof I see” shifts her a little, makes her question her fears, and invites her to open up just a crack.

What does this mean in our schools? Well, how often do we berate teachers who “don’t get it” for not changing their teaching practices? Or when that perpetually tardy student shows up late again, how often do we pull him into the office for another “mini lecture” on the need for punctuality? When parents sit around complaining in the parking lot, does anyone go listen to their concerns and invite them into the school for discussion? Or do the staff stand at the windows thinking “there they go again. THOSE parents…” (insert rolled eyes here). Every day, every moment – are our actions supporting the change that we can’t to make? Are we creating that space and that safety needed for those around us to learn?

In other words, I’ve learned something critical about leadership and systemic change from my darling, high strung daughter. We can only create a space that is safe, caring and supportive – then invite people to join us in making the changes that matter to us all. And join us, they will. I have faith! NOTE: return to review importance of #1 now, in context of #2…

3) Systems for Learning

(originally and still “systems”)

Ahhh… The SYSTEM… We do, indeed, have a hard time shifting a system, don’t we? There are rules, policies, Provincial learning outcomes, legislation, administrative procedures, best practices, standardized tests, class sizes, reporting requirements, budgets and limited resources, Roberts Rules of Order, and (not least of these) “the way we’ve always done it.” There are computer systems, software programs, support structures, hiring practices, purchasing rules, and parents who “don’t get it.” There are innumerable reasons why we can’t change.

Right now, we have excellence that happens in spite of the system. Every day, I see educators, principals, parents, students – all doing amazing things! But too often, these great programs or projects are driven by the determination and persistence of individuals – fighting the system and moving mountains because they care about kids and want to make a difference.

Too often, we have to find ways around policies, we have to fight technology barriers, we are working alone (“reinventing the wheel”) or we have to ignore politics (with career risk involved) in order to make great things happen. And the problem with this kind of change is that it isn’t sustainable – eventually, you get tired of fighting, you doubt your effectiveness and life becomes overwhelming. So the great program ends and you move on to a new challenge, hoping that this time it will be different…

In order to move forward and truly achieve lasting change and 100% success, we need excellence that is supported by the system.

This is where we usually start. Perhaps because it’s the most obvious – the lack of computers, the wireless networks, the budgets we debate every year, the curriculum or standardized testing mandated by government, changing assessment and report cards, the pro-d days, the possible programs (i.e. project based learning, IB, Montessori, French Immersion).

But the projects we choose often lack the conscious inclusion and consideration of both leadership and relationships/trust. I’ve noticed that we carefully select our pilot sites for technology projects, considering who the Principal at the school is, what kind of pro-d culture they have, how the parent/community relationships are. And I don’t think we often list those considerations specifically – it’s more of a gut feeling or instinct based selection. We sit around a table and throw out suggestions for pilot schools – and certain ones immediately resonate. We know we can make change there. Why? Because the “right” people are there…

When we roll it out further, it often struggles. We still deploy the computers, but they get used by only certain people. Or they are used in much more adaptive (rather than transformative) ways.

Yes, we need to change the system – there’s no doubt of that! But we need to change it together. We need to pay attention to relationships and communities. We need a shared understanding of our ultimate goals – what Andy Hargreaves calls an inclusive and inspiring vision. And we need to constantly questions our assumptions along the way. Changing a system has as much to do with what we do as with what we choose NOT to do…

Life’s two most important questions are “Why?” and “Why not?”
The trick is knowing which one to ask.

– Gordon Livingston

What do you expect for your kids?

I came across a presentation by Victor Frankl, talking about what motivates people, our search for meaning and how to achieve our potential.

What an amazing man I love that he took up flying as a mature learner!

I’m reminded of my boss, back when I worked at Eatons during my university years. She used to take me for coffee sometimes, and wed talk about people and leadership. One day, she said Heidi, don’t ever forget that people will live UP TO or DOWN TO your expectations. May as well expect the best from them!

In my own experience, one of university professors had a profound impact on my life just by leaning across the table during my final exam and whispering I expect great things from you http://www.iwasthinking.ca/2007/08/29/about-great-expectations/

It felt like an awful lot of pressure in that particular moment (and I was scared that I wouldn’t achieve great things). But throughout my life, Ive often stopped and checked whether I was living up to my potential if I was doing great things yet? That simple whisper planted a seed for me in a way, it gave me permission to dream or to want more.

With my own children, I often think about that experience. I have to stop sometimes and remind myself not to worry. Its so easy to get caught up in the moment, particularly when things aren’t going so well.

When my middle son was obviously struggling with reading and writing, it was easy to think if we don’t fix this, hell struggle his whole life and school will be horrible and how can he possibly go to college or university When my 12 year old daughter (at the height of being a tween, verging on the edge of being a teenager) has a meltdown about being asked to clean her room, its easy to feel like I have to teach her how to care for her things or shell always be irresponsible, will never look after things. A friend of mine calls this catastophizing falling into the trap of blowing something way out of proportion, thinking that all the worst things will happen.

There is a sense of trust that Ive been cultivating lately trust in myself as a parent, and trust in my children to learn and grow.

For kids to learn how to trust themselves, they need us to remind them that they are capable.

They need us to show them that its okay to make mistakes and learn from them.

They need us to expect good things because its that kind of faith that helps them be their very best selves

What do you expect for your kids?

I came across a presentation by Victor Frankl, talking about what motivates people, our search for meaning and how to achieve our potential.

What an amazing man I love that he took up flying as a mature learner!

I’m reminded of my boss, back when I worked at Eatons during my university years. She used to take me for coffee sometimes, and wed talk about people and leadership. One day, she said Heidi, don’t ever forget that people will live UP TO or DOWN TO your expectations. May as well expect the best from them!

In my own experience, one of university professors had a profound impact on my life just by leaning across the table during my final exam and whispering I expect great things from you http://www.iwasthinking.ca/2007/08/29/about-great-expectations/

It felt like an awful lot of pressure in that particular moment (and I was scared that I wouldn’t achieve great things). But throughout my life, Ive often stopped and checked whether I was living up to my potential if I was doing great things yet? That simple whisper planted a seed for me in a way, it gave me permission to dream or to want more.

With my own children, I often think about that experience. I have to stop sometimes and remind myself not to worry. Its so easy to get caught up in the moment, particularly when things aren’t going so well.

When my middle son was obviously struggling with reading and writing, it was easy to think if we don’t fix this, hell struggle his whole life and school will be horrible and how can he possibly go to college or university When my 12 year old daughter (at the height of being a tween, verging on the edge of being a teenager) has a meltdown about being asked to clean her room, its easy to feel like I have to teach her how to care for her things or shell always be irresponsible, will never look after things. A friend of mine calls this catastophizing falling into the trap of blowing something way out of proportion, thinking that all the worst things will happen.

There is a sense of trust that Ive been cultivating lately trust in myself as a parent, and trust in my children to learn and grow.

For kids to learn how to trust themselves, they need us to remind them that they are capable.

They need us to show them that its okay to make mistakes and learn from them.

They need us to expect good things because its that kind of faith that helps them be their very best selves.

Crowd Accelerated Innovation

In the TEDTalks video, Chris Anderson talks about the YouTube phenomenon and how it is fueling incredible innovation – just by sharing ideas in big ways!

From the description on YouTube: TED’s Chris Anderson says the rise of web video is driving a worldwide phenomenon he calls Crowd Accelerated Innovation a self-fueling cycle of learning that could be as significant as the invention of print.

This is why I’m encouraging my Districts parents to share their stories on a Posterous website (http://dpac43.posterous.com) – with each other, with the District, with our community (both local and global)!

We have ideas – schools and PAC’s are doing great things all over this District. I know that because I hear stories every time I talk to someone or walk into a school!

We have the “crowd” – parents are part of vibrant school communities and we want to be involved.

We have the “desire” – I know that parents in this District care SO much. About our kids, about our schools and about our communities! It’s why we volunteer our precious time – because we know it matters!

And sharing our ideas in a way that all can see, read and contribute is a start at shedding “light” on all of those ideas that are happening in every corner of our District!

I’m also hoping that we’ll be able to engage our student leaders to share stories from schools from their perspective – showing us the things they care about and that they are proud of!

More stories = more sharing = more ideas to spread!

I think a lot about ways of sharing stories. How could teachers share their stories and ideas? Shed light on the great things that happen in classrooms and schools all the time? Share ideas for teaching practices or lesson ideas? About classroom management and ways to personalize learning? Share resources?

A group blog perhaps? A wiki? A video library?

Or I dream big about an innovation and collaboration center. Allow discussion to form around questions or topics – use @injenuitys idea of having a tag cloud as a dynamic, fluid way of surfacing what people are talking about. Follow the words that pique your interest and join in.

Some educators do this already on Twitter or via blogs. I think the catch to having the majority being engaged in such sharing, though, is making it (1) easy and (2) relevant within a trusted peer community. The first one removes the technical barriers to participation.  And the second one makes it meaningful for individuals because if these are stories that are being told in my own District, then I know the curriculum is the right one, I can call the person if I have questions and I know its possible within my own community.

Stories are such a non-judgemental, non-threatening way of that sharing! No one is telling anyone else what to do or how to do it were just telling the stories of our own journeys. Allowing others to tag along.

Maybe, my story might spark an idea for someone else. Maybe they will add their own personal touch and come up with a new idea! And who knows where that might lead??

Let the learning (and innovation) spread!

Mixed Messages

I sat with my 12yo daughter tonight, encouraging her to get her homework done.

She was working on her monthly reading assignment she gets to pick the book, she has a whole list of options for what to do for the assignment and I’m pretty sure her teacher would allow them to suggest alternatives, if they want. The options include written assignments, comic strips, Power Point presentations, videos, etc. The kids are allowed to use any method and any medium they like.

My daughter loves art, so shes drawing a comic strip. She has said before that she doesn’t like when the teacher picks the novel, so shes allowed to make her own choice. I thought shed like this assignment.

And yet she resists.

Is it just because its homework and therefore its automatically onerous?
Is it because she gets anxious about getting things done, or because perfectionism makes her want it to be so fantastic that the task is daunting?
Would she just, plain, rather be playing?

These things are probably part of it. But this is a kid who makes up long, complex stories with her brothers, spends hours drawing on Google Sketchup, researches dog breeds to incredible depth and regularly blows me away with her questions and ideas.

As she whined and complained about having to do the work, I asked her But you like drawing, you got to to choose the book. How come you dont like doing this assignment? It seemed to me that her teacher had done the stuff we always talk about empowering learners, providing choice, allowing personalization.

Because I don’t like being forced to do it. she responded.

So we talked about the times when we have to do things, even when that’s not our choice, but that it has a larger purpose in our lives. I don’t like paying bills, but I love my family and want us to have a place to live and keep it heated and have electricity for lights, etc And that perspective can help me grind through the stuff I don’t necessarily enjoy with a lighter heart.

She looked at me, agreeing in principle. But nothing resonated with her here. She can relate to having to clean her room so that she can have her friends over or so that she find her things when she wants them. She can understand having to scrub the bathroom so that we all have a home that is healthy. But she cant understand how drawing a comic strip about her favorite scene in this novel helps her achieve her dreams or that it will somehow help her function in life. She grudgingly went back to her homework seeing it simply as the hoop she has to jump through in this game we call school.

In that moment, I realized something. She had no idea why reading and comprehension are important for her life. This assignment isn’t meaningful for her, at all! There is no relevance. And I also realized that I’m not sure how the assignment relates to real world skills either?

Its assumed that reading is important and that kids need to be able to show their comprehension somehow with some sort of output. We all agree that its a necessary skill. But why? What is the end goal of reading? Of a book report? Of a monthly reading assignment?

I struggle a little to understand her disinterest because, to me, reading is almost as necessary as breathing. I love it. I love the art of it, just for the experience of it. I love rolling the words around on my tongue, tasting them, imagining the scenes being painted, letting the ideas stretch and dance in my mind. At her age, reading was my escape.

But as I think about it, my daughter would prefer to make up her own stories. She is a creator more than a consumer. She loves reading for facts absorbing and retaining information as quickly as she can find it. But has never loved reading fiction.

In fact, isn’t that true of the culture of this generation? These kids are creating all sorts of content! YouTube. Blogs. Facebook. Photos. Creating their own characters on all sorts of game sites. They create their own avatars on our Wii. They engage with the world, expecting to be part of creating their own experiences. They are less willing to sit back and receive. To consume. To accept what they’re given.

I sit here wondering what this all means?

If my daughter never does connect with a love of reading, is that a problem? She has other ways of experiencing her love of art and stretching her imagination. She engages with storytelling constantly with her brothers, with her friends, in her own head. In fact, she enjoys reading when it has a social component for her she loves snuggling up to me in bed, both of us lost in our own books but sharing a moment together. And she has certainly shown her ability to read and consume information, as well as assess and communicate her findings. Shes got the basics down.

Beyond that, what are the necessary skills for navigating this world? For being a contributing citizen? For connecting with others? For supporting herself and her family? How do we show kids the relevance of what they’re being taught when were not really clear on that ourselves?

I grew up in a world of have to and should be and seeking to please those in authority. I excelled in school partly because I just plain love learning, partly because I was really good at knowing what people expected of me and delivering that. I found it easy to succeed in the existing system in school and upon entering the workforce.

But is that the world that our children are coming into? Is that what we want to prepare them for? To obey? And jump through hoops?

Because I think were giving them some really mixed messages right now. On the one hand, were encouraging them to care to stand up against bullies, to make changes that will save our environment and feed the hungry. We are empowering them to stand up and make a difference. Were telling them we want them to care and to be passionate about what matters to them.

And yet we expect them to do their homework, even when they don’t understand why they’re doing it. Because these are the rules and that’s what they need to do in order to get the marks and move on to the next level. In fact, this is the work world that we know as well one of rule following and doing as were told, even when it doesn’t make sense. Where the world of Dilbert is just a little too close to the truth in our organizations

I sit here, wondering which way this will all go? Which messages will our children absorb? Is this part of our path, our journey of change? Is this how societal change happens? No wonder our kids are struggling at times were struggling too! Yes indeed, times of change are difficult because this churning, this indecision and mixed messages, this uncertainty its a necessary part of revolution and its uncomfortable. Were trying to figure out how to do all these things were talking about and its hard work, darn it!

And I wonder about my little girl who is growing up so quickly, who is so bright and so determined. Will she change the world? Or will the world change her?

Say it loud say it proud!

Somehow, in the midst of a conversation, a colleague laughed out loud and said you’re such an idealist!

I stopped, noticing that I might have (in the past) apologized for being so unrealistic. For being driven. For being relentlessly focused on the things that matter to me.
As if those are bad things

Or I might have felt bad for being high maintenance

But this time, in that moment when I stopped those apologies, I felt a wave of pride instead.
You bet Im an idealist! I responded. And I smiled.

I believe in the power of teams. I believe that people want to be a part of meaningful projects. And I believe that everyone wants to rise to your expectations. So why not have great expectations?

And the very next day at WeDay, I found this t-shirt:

shameless idealist

I love it!
And I’m proud of it!

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