Saturday, July 11, 2015

We're All Learners

There is comfort in routine.

As we enter the "dog days" of summer, that brief pause between the ed conference season and the harried start of a new school year, I look to my familiar list of tasks and find comfort.  I know exactly what needs to be done to close out the old and start the new.  Most of these tasks involve systems, not people.  While there are always updates and changes, these "systems" tasks retain their purpose.  They are necessary and familiar.  I can feel a sense of accomplishment without really needing to stretch myself as a learner.

It's a nice break from the mad rush of trying to be innovative and creative, of iteration and failure, of staring at the unknown and realizing how much I have to grow.  If I were a tree, this would be the season that creates a new ring, the pause before the frenzied growth of spring.

While in some ways I relish this interlude, I can't imagine staying in this season for long.  We all need growth and purpose.  We are all learners.  As with trees, growth takes resources.  It's frenzied and sometimes haphazard.  But it is the whole point of being.  We are not designed to be static beings.

There are many myths in education, and some die harder than others.  One in particular is not taught, but it is understood, almost as a bargain struck in our choice of career.  Start young, spend a few years learning your content and your craft, and you arrive.  A stately elm, gently swaying in the forest of public education.  Strong enough to weather the storms of new initiatives, but solid and unchanging.

Some have difficulty in releasing this myth.  It may have seemed appropriate in decades past, but the pace of change in communication technologies and access to information has more than proven that life for us is not that of a tree in an unchanging forest.  We are all on a journey, and while rest-stops and layovers are comforting and even necessary, still we move forward, or we are left behind.

We are all learners.

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