Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Change can be Scary... But AWESOME

I enjoy reading about people who overcome adversity to make a success with whatever hand life or circumstances throw at them. Especially with people who do this in an ethical manner or who take others with them, opposed to people and organisations with dog-eat-dog cultures, who trample over the top of one another to get ahead. I wrote a post recently about Shackleton's leadership and one of my favourite quotes is from the explorer;

"Shackleton once summed up for a friend how he viewed life and leadership. “Some people say it is wrong to regard life as a game; I don't think so, life to me means the greatest of all games. The danger lies in treating it as a trivial game, a game to be taken lightly, and a game in which the rules don't matter much. The rules matter a great deal. The game has to be played fairly, or it is no game at all. And even to win the game is not the chief end. The chief end is to win it honourably and splendidly. To this chief end several things are necessary. Loyalty is one. Discipline is another. Unselfishness is another. Courage is another. Optimism is another. And chivalry is another.”

I highlight any good examples of leadership like this that I find to my kids, for example when we read "Yertle the Turtle" we introduced them to Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights movement. We also encourage our kids to believe that they can be AWESOME and to "find their place in the world" and make sure that they "do what they love, and love what they do." So the Lego Movie was a big hit with the oldies, as well as the youngsters in our house.

When the Lego Movie was released BBC2's "Culture Show" had a program called "Lego: The Building Blocks of Architecture." 
This program gave a brief history of Lego and Ole Kirk Christiansen, the founder's background, whose career was marked by change as a result of adverse market conditions. Kirk Christiansen started out as a carpenter who built barns for Farmers but;
  • As the Great Depression hit in 1930s, people couldn't afford the cost of his barns, so he turned to making wooden toys for the farmers children
  • When war broke out resources became scarce and wood was needed for fuel etc, so Ole started to experiment with this new fangled "plastic" material
Thus Lego was a result of necessity. Necessity...You know that thing that George Farquar called "The Mother of Invention"

As the discussion of the "Further Education Learning & Technology Action Group" (FELTAG) recommendations take place across FE, there may be some pro-IT people and early adopters thinking "Finally, some progress" while skeptics may be thinking "In the grand scheme of things IT has hardly improved teaching and learning."

There were no lego mini-figures when I was young, we had to make chunky people out of your "6-er & 4-er" blocks... Today not only are there almost as many mini figures as humans, but there is an entire smash hit movie about them.

And what's the plot of this movie? It's about someone whose trying to maintain order in a sea of change... But trying to maintain the status quo at what cost?

Things don't remain fixed, three years ago I had no time for social media, but was informed that this viewpoint was hampering my career prospects "It's part of the job now" one major EdTech supplier informed me... something that I really didn't want to hear at the time! I also didn't like the fact that my skillset, which I had spent 10 years developing, were becoming obsolete "Great" I remember thinking "Just as I'm getting the experience I need, the market shifts to make these skills all but obsolete."

I know teaching changing to include online components might seem as chaotic as how cloud cuckoo land looks to Lord Business... But it can also facilitate more creativity.

As the Culture Show highlights a former barn builders invention is inspiring young architects and engineers, coders, graphic designers (with Lego Creator) and coders (Mind Storm) as well as playing a role in encouraging girls to get into STEM. Indeed its helping educators so much that #edtechchat had a whole session dedicated to Lego in education.

I'm not sure how many people who started out a carpenters went on to make toys that would go on to inspire creativity in our young people in the way that Lego has... But I'm sure am glad that changes in the market led Christiansen to innovate because of these changes.

While I am not an educator, there have been significant changes in my role, and if I had remained stuck in the past it might have been the career equivalent of having Kragle poured all over Emit. Was as scared as Lord Business of the change? Sure I was. But, like Lord Business I got used to the idea.

I wonder if the FELTAG agenda will turn any educators who are used to sticking with the Ofsted lesson plan into master builders? 

Good luck with your journey to cloud cuckoo land...

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