Deliberately Disrupting Education

My father always said that my mother liked change for change-sake. He would often use the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Change in our house often meant rearranging or buying furniture, a different car, or a bigger television. Something to make the conditions feel new and improved. I had a very privileged upbringing in every sense of the word, which is something I have always been aware of. Opportunity as a result of privileged conditions presents a choice to make the most of a situation or not. It’s through the choices we make that ultimately determine the path we take.

I agree with my dad and his frustration about change for change-sake, but I don’t believe it is necessarily about fixing something that isn’t broken. It’s about optimising the experience to be more enjoyable and beneficial. Intentional change I think is much different. It’s about enacting change with purpose. This is where I need to, as a leader, be very deliberate in the choices I make. I need to be aware of the privileged position that I am in and the conditions that I have, while taking opportunities through measured decisions. Every ball is worth watching, but the skill is in knowing which ones to let through to the keeper.

Here’s the three things I’ve got in my favour, which will drive successful change:

1. The Team.

I could, and probably will, write an entire post about how lucky I am to be working with the people I do. The best thing about my team is not that they agree about everything all the time, but that they’re willing to challenge each other’s perspectives, including my own. Nothing would change if we all disagreed and change wouldn’t be effective if we all did. There does need to be a balance, which is what we have. I am also really lucky that they’re very open minded and honest about their concerns. It’s very, very good.

2. There’s a need that isn’t being met.

Our students lack confidence. Like how many people feel when they think they’re not great at something, they have a bleak outlook on the possibility of it getting better anytime soon. This, in turn, makes the experience for the teacher and the student challenging to say the least. Hopefully being intentional about improving this and using it as a measure of success will benefit the teaching and learning experience.

3. Opportunity.

I was lucky enough to hear Kevin Richardson, principal at Immanuel College in South Australia, talk about a number of things through the oration he gave when receiving the Mary Mackillop award a couple of weeks ago. Many quotes stuck with me from that evening, but the one that continually comes to the forefront of my mind is “the worst decision is no decision”. It really helps me to just actually make my mind up and go with it. As a leader, I have the opportunity to steer the ship and make an impact that needs to happen. Nothing will change if all we ever do is talk about it without actually doing anything.

I read an article about disrupting education, and it gave an example of the telephone and how it has developed since being invented. It’s not that we haven’t been able to talk to someone over the phone since, but over time, it has just become easier, more accessible, and, in a lot of ways, better. The point I am making is that the innovation that drove the change wasn’t because something was broken. It was because someone thought that maybe it could have been done differently. It could have been a better experience for the user. The education we are providing our students is not broken, but could we be doing it differently?

It’s not change for change-sake, but rather a deliberate disruption for an enhanced educational experience.

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4 thoughts on “Deliberately Disrupting Education

  1. John man love your articles. Very refreshing and honest. Why did you have to leave ASMS, the whole school has become worse since you left. Anyways great article and keep up the good work!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a great post John, very reflective and powerful. It would be great for the whole team to read this. Your sense of being an intentional leader really shines through. We are very fortunate to have you in the team with us at WSS!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lots of juicy stuff John but as per your invite, I would have to disagree on one particular point….”The education we are providing our students is not broken”. If you are referring to the ‘we’ as the school system in general then I think it is. There are many elements that need to be completely rethought, many that need to be thrown out and all in all, a new set of eyes should be used to look at the issue of education and schooling. We are doing wonderful things at WSS and schools like ours are making waves as well as changes but the water will arguably remain polluted in parts by the confines of the system. This isn’t to say that we should stop what we are doing, far from it. But without recognising larger system rethinking and changes, significant issues will remain which only seek to undermine the advancements.

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