Talking during lunch with a good friend and colleague, Mike Hanas of Carolina Friends, and he said to me: What did Pat Bassett mean, anyway, about sailing directly into the stormy seas? I like the point; in previous post I praised it as the better strategy than that of “taking safe harbor.” But what is it in practice, and why didn’t Pat provide us any more clarification or examples?
Here is what I think it means. Taking safe harbor would be to continue to do those things, and emphasize those things, that we have always done, that we have done for the longest time, and which will least likely upset, confuse, or worry people. If teachers are feeling high anxiety about layoffs or their potential, you don’t challenge them to teach differently than how they always have done. If parents are worrying about affording tuition, you don’t take away Latin, or move away from AP programs, or tell them that instead of final exams the students will have final exhibitions.
Sailing into the storm, then, is to do the opposite: accelerate the rate of change. This blog is called 21k12, celebrating twentyfirst century k-12 education. Our students should be learning 21st century skills in 21st century classrooms, which means they are not listening to lectures, not doing workbooks, not writing final exams; instead they are solving real world problems, learning what is meaningful and purposeful for them and their lives, they are using contemporary digital tools to create, to publish online, to challenge authority. They are not taking safe harbor, but they are what will, I posit, be most important and most effective for making sure we make the most of this storm, because, after all, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.