As November 2012 drew to a close, Grant Lichtman completed his eleventh week of #EdJourney – his three-month, 60-school, cross-country tour to explore educational innovation in the K-12 school world. He has just one week remaining – three school visits in Dallas – to conclude the physical travel portion of his trek to learn and share about ways that schools are forwarding their visions for the future.
Nearing the end of the motoring phase, Grant’s penultimate week – a week in Memphis, TN – found me remembering the concluding chapter of The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned In School.
What is the goal that I wish for my students? What is the common characteristic of our heroes, the common context which lies at the end of the path? What is the height of the warrior’s bar?
I believe it is elegance.
Commonly, elegance refers to a beautiful gown, a memorable dinner party attendant to every trimming, an expensive yet tasteful entryway that welcomes both the guest and the eye, a Mozart sonata. More recently the concept of elegance has become the playground of engineers and software programmers. It helps define their goal of creating an effective and novel solution to often thorny problems with the greatest efficiency.
What is elegance?
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the French writer and aviator best known for his story The Little Prince, states that “In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.”
And a few paragraphs later…
Elegant solutions are found everywhere if we allow ourselves to, first, look, and second, not settle for less. But elegance rarely comes easily. Usually it is the end product of years or a lifetime of work, dedication, failure, and recommitment.
How might your school or learning community finds its elegant solutions?
In this week’s video-cast interview, Grant and I explore some of the threads that connect the innovation hotbed of Memphis, we ponder whether innovative schools are more like malls or orchestras, and we continue to search in our own ways for those learning communities that design learning environments which truly put the students at the core of their own elegant solutions.
Grant’s blog posts from Memphis:
Leading Classroom Change Permeates Presbyterian Day School, November 27, 2012
Math, Student Questioning: Link to Two Presidential Award Teachers, November 26, 2012
Back on the Road for Completion of EdJourney, November 25, 2012