Sitting with a principal whom I have the utmost respect for, we talked about how she embraced technology now, which was quite different about how she was in the past. What she said to me, really stuck out to me. She told me that it was not that she didn’t see the value of technology, but that she didn’t understand it that well, so it was easy to dismiss it. I was so appreciative of her honesty, but what I know of her, is that not one person was held back in her tenure as principal because of her fear of the unknown. She is the type of principal that empowers her people and gets out of their way. This is not always the case though.
Often we look at our own fear of what we don’t know, and realize deep down that it is often holding us back. It is easy to dismiss many aspects of learning, but it is also easy to say something is “stupid” when you have never used it. I used to say that about Twitter, about blogging, about mobile phones, and so on. I know better now. How could I make an adequate judgment of something that I had never used or tried?
Working with a student recently, he was telling me how he didn’t see how blogging would be helpful to him and that he saw it as a useless task. I asked him if he had ever blogged, to which he said he hadn’t. I then told him that I could give him a million reasons why it was awesome, but I asked him to give it a legitimate try for a month and then he could tell me what he really thought. But I emphasized that he really had to try and give it a valiant effort. He happily accepted and I look forward to hearing what he thinks after he jumps in. Blogging is not for everyone and he might hate it, but he will know from experience, not from simply dismissing the unknown. We can learn a lot from this kid.
Here’s the thing…when we dismiss something because of our fear of the unknown as educators, we don’t just lose out ourselves, but those that we serve lose out as well. Teachers impact students, principals impact teachers and students, and superintendents can impact everyone. When our fear holds us back, it often holds others back as well. Fear often has the power to kill innovation.
One of my favourite quotes on this topic is from Michael Jordan who says, “limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.” What I love about this quote is that limits and fears are used synonymously. Our fears limit us to do less, but in education,we are not the only ones that lose out.
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