So here’s what I’m calling for you to do. Remember the three traits of opportunity-makers.Opportunity-makers keep honing their top strength and they become pattern seekers. They get involved in different worlds than their worlds so they’re trusted and they can see those patterns,and they communicate to connect around sweet spots of shared interest.
If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this glass of wine, this universe, into parts — physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on — remember that nature does not know it! So let us put it all back together, not forgetting ultimately what it is for.
Richard Feynman, as shared on Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings
Connect, connect, connect.
Four years ago, FedEx identified Access—the idea that greater connections between people, businesses and nations create a virtuous cycle. “The ability to make wider connections spurs innovation and entrepreneurialism, and enables gains in productivity,” said the first issue of this magazine. “Businesses are born and expand, communities and nations reap the benefits, and a thirst for still greater Access results.” http://about.fedex.designcdt.com/access/WhyAccessMattersNow
E.M. Forster wrote in Howard’s End, “Only connect.”
Seventh/eighth grade teacher Clarence Fisher has an interesting way of describing his classroom up in Snow Lake, Manitoba. As he tells it, it has “thin walls,” meaning that despite being eight hours north of the nearest metropolitan airport, his students are getting out into the world on a regular basis, using the Web to connect and collaborate with students in far flung places from around the globe. The name of Clarence’s blog, “Remote Access,” sums up nicely the opportunities that his students have in their networked classroom. http://weblogg-ed.com/2011/personal-learning-networks-an-excerpt/
I read many blogs and follow many tweets that suggest we should all connect, share, and collaborate more often. I agree. However, many times we say it and it sounds good, but we never get to see examples while trying to keep up with the real time tweet deck. It quickly turns into platitude chat. So I decided to welcome you, the reader, into my classroom and showcase what a typical, connected class looks like. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/connected-classroom-information-literacy
Frankly, if you are not a connected educator at this point, you may not have an awareness that we are at a critical juncture in education. These driving questions must be answered. If you are not a connected educator, how can you support your own professional growth and the success of your children if you are not constantly questioning, re-evaluating, and striving for improvement?
Has the new American greeting become, “Did you get my email?” Have we unintentionally resolved that “Busy” is the standard response to “How are you?” Have agendas become more driving than relationships? Is the working lunch the result of crowding time at the margins? Do five minute pass times really allow people to shift gears and catch their breaths? Is it healthy for a student to have a 7:00 a.m. meeting and remain at school until 7:00 p.m., or later, on a regular basis?
What if we slowed down? What if we gradually and purposefully replaced some quantity with quality? What if we served fewer items from the buffet to our plates, but what if we served more of fewer items? Would we stop and talk to each other more? Would we look each other in the eyes rather than walking by with that “I gotta get somewhere fast” gaze on our smartphone screen?
What if we offered fewer “subjects” because we understood that they are all connected and integrated anyway? What if we realized that the BIG issues in the world will not be solved through one siloed discipline…and what if we realized that they will ALL be solved through empathy and relationship?
For many years at my current school, I held membership in the History Department. In a newsletter one year, I proposed the idea (don’t think I am the originator!) of teaching history backwards – start today and work backwards in time tracing connections and interesting linkages. Dr. Lamplugh even did it one year (said he loved it)! One could weave this approach together with thematic teaching in a course like “News.” Or even better, one could employ Steve Goldberg’s deep-digging approach detailed in his recent post: “Why not teach about war? We’re fighting two right now….”
I think it’s about making connections, don’t you? Connections with “what’s going on today” and “how did we get here on this issue?” Connections with the PEOPLE living this news and emerging from these histories. Connections among the things that we overly silo…called departments or disciplines.
The spider cannot weave a web except by leaping from where she currently resides and connecting to another anchor. From these anchors emerge the threads that last when the wind blows most viciously. From these anchors empathy blooms.