During the viewing, with the Hathaway Brown quote freshly on my brain folds from a morning mediation walking Lucy, I wondered if student learners are the mixologists of their school learning episodes. How are they remixing the samples of “melodies” that they hear in various classes and schedule periods? How are we making time and space for them to be the authors and DJs of their stories as learners in school? Where is the primary agency in the relationship between student learner and teacher learner?
Currently, I am ecstatically enjoying phase III of my sabbatical – several days at Walt Disney World with my wife and two sons (6 and 4 years old). In addition to the sheer joy of being with them in this magical place, I am reminded of some critical lessons about learning.
At Disney, there are no employees. Everyone who works here is a “cast member.” Very different connotations. Props are everywhere. Setting is carefully orchestrated, complete with music, costumes, sound cues, etc. All of the elements work in harmony to create a magical illusion. Very few details are left unconsidered. Consequently, the illusion can become very real and believable.
As Dan Pink explained in A Whole New Mind, story and design are critically important. The Heath brothers make the same point in their books, and folks like Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte reiterate time after time. Design and story make learning compelling, real, experiential, and captivating.
In schools, are we employees or cast members? I know some people bristle at entertainment-education, and that is not what I am advocating. I am questioning whether we pay enough attention to design and story. And I am certainly questioning if we guide students in creating the design and story themselves. I believe Disney has some advice to offer in this area.
Dan Pink continuously talks about the power of story. The Heath brothers articulate that “sticky” messages have certain attributes. In Tribes, Seth Godin emphasizes the critical, fundamental importance of communication.
For the last 18 months, one of my tracks of personal learning has been focused in the area of communication, presentation, and idea story telling. Dan Pink, Dan and Chip Heath, Edward Tufte, Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte have been a few of my virtual teachers.
Recently, Nancy Duarte delivered a TEDxEast talk (below) and several blog posts about presentation and communication.
Our 7th graders are currently studying the god-teacher archetype. Do you see the connections? Here’s to the kaizen of our presentations and communications.