Sunday, December 27, 2009

Creativity in Education

A couple of weeks ago I posted a short YouTube video that indicated that fun could be good for us.  Today I’d like to return to the right brain and talk about creativity.  We can think of creativity in a couple of ways.  How we nurture it in our children; how we nurture it in our leadership.

I’d like to start with a story.  When my son Adam was in kindergarten, the students were coloring pictures on a worksheet.  One of the pictures was an elephant.  Because he didn’t have a gray crayon, Adam used a pencil to color the elephant.  His teacher looked over his shoulder and said that he needed to use his crayons to color the elephant.  Now Adam didn’t have a gray crayon so he determined that a pencil was a good substitute.  However, his teacher did not appreciate Adam thinking outside of the crayon box.  Unfortunately, this experience was not the only time Adam’s creativity took a hit as he worked his way through school.

In this TED Talk, Sir Ken Robinson argues that, as exemplified by Adam’s experience, we educate creativity out of children in our public school systems.  He goes on to make a case for nurturing creativity in education; that creativity is as important as literacy and that we should treat it with the same urgency.  Take 15 minutes to watch this thought-provoking video.

In A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink makes a similar case, talking about the rise of right-brainers. Left-brain logic has long been admired and even thought of as the part of the brain that made us human.  The right brain was considered something less, that it somehow impeded the good work of the left brain.  However, today we understand how the two halves of the brain complement each other.  Pink writes,

“Both sides work together—but they have different specialties.  The left hemisphere handles logic, sequence, literalness and analysis.   The right takes care of synthesis, emotional expression, context, and the big picture. ”

Today, it is not enough to develop the rational left side of the brain.  Today’s challenges require that we develop what Pink calls R-Directed Thinking.   We still need L-directed aptitudes, but they are no longer sufficient for succeeding in today’s complex world. 

One final thought about creativity.  While we need to foster creativity in our children, as leaders facing complex challenges that require us to retool our public education system to meet 21st century challenges, we need to reconnect with our own creativity.  In this TED video, Dave Eggers describes how he and a number of his writer friends developed a creative after school program, what he describes as “school, but not school.” 

How is your district encouraging children’s creativity?  How is the leadership in your community working together to develop new and exciting programs that provide opportunities for students to develop their creativity and reach their full potential?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Technology and Education

We all know the pace of technological change proceeds at a breakneck pace these days, making it difficult for digital immigrants like me to keep up.  How can we expect our schools to adapt to this continuously changing environment, especially when resources are tight and the people in charge may not fully appreciate the potential of many of the technological innovations found in our world today?

In Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America  Allan Collins and Richard Halverson talk about the possibilities and challenges of technology in public education.  While admitting their bias toward the promise of technology, they also consider the skeptics' view and explore how the deeply entrenched organizational structure of the school system works against innovation. 

In another book that focuses on technology in schools, Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the  World Learns, Clayton M. Christensen talks about how student-centered learning is expanding largely through the less mainstream areas of the system like AP classes, remediation and special education.

Finally, those of you who attended  the WASB Leadership conference at the end of July might recall the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, Map of Future Forces and the drivers of change in education. One of the changes, the end of cyberspace, challenges us to think about how technology is becoming more integrated into our lives.  In this TED Talk, Pranav Mistry,  the inventor of SixthSense, describes a wearable device that enables new interactions between the real world and the world of data.

Collins and Halverson argue that technololgy cannot overtake traditional forms of schooling until the ratio of computers to students is 1:1.  Mistry intends to open source the SixthSense technology, perhaps making it easier for schools to bring computer technology closer to that 1:1 ratio.  What possibilities are in store for us as ideas like the Sixth Sense make their way into our lives and our schools?  How can this technology challege the deep structure of schooling that has been in place since public school systems developed one hundred years ago in the Industrial Revolution?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What if we made school fun?

Check out this YouTube video, The Fun Theory.  It will make you smile.  I also hope it will make you think about how we might apply the fun theory to our schools.  What are your ideas?

Friday, December 4, 2009

TED Talks

About a year ago, I was introduced to TED Talks. TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED's annual conferences in Long Beach, California and Oxford, England bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

New TED Talks are made available each week. You can visit TED yourself, or view the videos you find posted here each week. Sometimes I will try to post videos that seem to build on a theme. Other times I will post just a single talk. This week I have posted a TED Talk that uses music to give us a new way to think about leadership.

In Itay Talgam: Lead like the great conductors illustrates effective leadership using examples of orchestra conductors. I hope you enjoy this TED Talk and will take a moment to post your reactions to the video.

Welcome to the School Governance Blog


The world, Wisconsin, and the expectations of public education are changing. What does this mean for leadership and school board members? Technical know-how is no longer sufficient for effective leadership today. Instead school board members need to be well-versed in how to lead cultural change. (More about the difference between technical and cultural change in later posts.)

There is so much to think about in the ever-changing landscape of educational leadership. The purpose of this blog is to link school board members of the state of Wisconsin with important resources that can be used to develop effective leadership skills.

My hope is that this blog will become a place school board members turn for resources and opportunities for posing questions and comments about the ever-changing landscape of educational leadership