Identifying My Educational Values – My First Day at Harvard…

It just feels different here… There is almost something magical walking around the campus of the oldest institution of learning in the US, which was established in 1636 and just celebrated its 375th anniversary in 2011. I also saw the Boston Latin School, which was the first public school in the United States, was founded in 1635. Everything has a feel of wisdom and insight. Having gone to the University of Calgary for all of my own degrees, the U of C just does not feel the same, having been founded in 1966. Our oldest public schools in Calgary are about 100 years old. Just not the same…

There are people here from all over the US, as well as Australia, Canada, Ghana, Thailand. I will be extremely interested to start learning about some of the global and cultural differences in education, learning and educational leadership. Should be amazing to compare the CBE to what is going on around the world.

Much of our pre-work for the Institute was around identifying our values as they pertain to learning. I have been formalizing some of this thinking over the past few years as I have developed my own analogy around learning, which I call my Gear Analogy.

In a gear system, there are inputs and outputs, and the gears in between that can speed up the system (learning) or slow it down. The input is the curiosity, interests, strengths and challenges of the child, as well as all the skills and capacities of the teachers. The output is the learning, thinking, development and growth that come out of this system. In between, I see four (4) gears:

  1. Resiliency – How do we deal with issues and adversity?
  2. Literacy – How do we access information and learning, and how do we share our thinking? (not just Readin’ and Writin’)
  3. Learning Capacities – Developing and enabling student abilities around creativity, planning, organizing, implementing, communicating, critical thinking, decision making, collaboration, leadership
  4. Purpose & Engagement – Why are we doing and learning what we are? How are we doing the learning? How do we enable kids to WANT to learn?

If one or more of these gears are either small or not turning, the whole system is affected, slowing down learning. The more we grease the gears and grow them to make them bigger, the better the learning outcomes that will be taking place. As educators, we need to be looking at targeted interventions to make those gears turn at the best efficiency possible. This takes us much further than merely “covering” the content.

The relationships teachers develop with students will be the key to developing students who need the most support, have the hardest time to succeed, and, in the end, have a ton of potential…

Work hard, learn tons!


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