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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Superintendent Is Blogging! It's A Start

Our relatively new Superintendent (of 6 months) has begun a blog and a Twitter account.  On the one hand this is a step in the right direction, on the other hand I feel compelled to interact with him (and others) as an obvious "early-adopter" of blogging within our school district (nearly 8 years now, in one form or another).  When I started, our tech department didn't know that blogs needed to be blocked ;-).

So, below is my response to Day 2 of our Book Study - Live First, Work Second by Rebecca Ryan.

First, thank you for leaving your comfort zone.  I will use this point later. As much as anything, public schools need the experience of leaving the safe haven of the way things were done in the past, not just discussions about how we should grow as people.  Your demonstration might lead our district into modern methods of communication, information dissemination, and connection with others.

I am always skeptical of labeling things, ideas, or people, and in this case, generations.  Ken Robinson says, “Once you label something, you can then dismiss it.” It no longer requires discussion to determine if other strategies are in order. 

Yet labels make it easier for us to deal with things more efficiently and effectively.  So onward we go.

Question 1: “…how do we build community (in workplace and/or in the larger community) that both meets these different needs and harnesses the strengths of each?”

Recognizing that everyone has strengths and weaknesses.  This begins by identifying one’s own strengths and weaknesses, and being honest, yet humble enough to admit them.

[Here comes the "comfort zone" item I promised.]

This level of transparency is frightening for those who seek safety, isolating for those who crave acceptance (belonging), and risky for those who have esteem as a personal objective: in other words, everyone born before 1982 according to Ryan’s categorization.  So most of the faculty, staff, and administration have this common ground (of being uncomfortable) on which to stand.

Personal growth is not easy; if it were everyone would continue to grow.  For me, to engage in this kind of conversation within our district is difficult, although I have had many extended conversations in this format with people around the world, and have done so for nearly 8 years.

Building community is like building a family on a larger scale.  There must be trust and a belief that everyone is looking out for the best interests of each other.  The larger the scale, the more difficult this becomes. 

Perhaps a reason why those born after 1982 are considered “self-actualizers” is because of the seeming ulterior motives of the generation before them. 

This discussion reminds me of the poetry of Mike and The Mechanics (Living Years).

   "Every generation blames the one before,
   And all of our frustrations come beating on
     your door,
   I know that I'm a prisoner to all my father
     held so dear,
   I know that I'm a hostage to all his hopes and
   I just wish I could have told him in the
     living years."

Question 2: Can you think of a recent example at work or home where differing generational views were obvious to you?

I have dealt with the “generational views” for several years.  The struggle is in the purpose and use of technology in school settings.  It appears to me this way: The use of technology as an instructional tool (Millennials & some Gen X’ers) vs. the use of technology as a management tool (some Gen X’ers & Baby Boomers) vs. the absence or questioning of the need for technology (Silent).

A shift has already occurred in some educational settings as it pertains to the purpose of technology: From management to instruction. 

Our students (“digital natives”, as Marc Prensky labels them) have never known a world without the Internet or cell phones.  These instruments are a ubiquitous way of life for “natives” in that they use these instruments for numerous purposes, but mainly to connect with others.  Much like television and radio for previous generations, the Internet, Facebook, MySpace, and Text Messaging is for this generation.

“Digital Immigrants” (Prensky’s moniker for those born before 1990) view technology more as a “tool” to accomplish a goal; whether it is data management, communication, or production of resources.  Immigrants have to have a “reason” to use technology; Natives use it because it is there.  

Any thoughts or comments are always welcome.

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous


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