In response to the post, “It’s a Small World,” a reader writes:

“SC, This reminds me somewhat of our recent conversation. I do what E. Don says to the letter, because it works. On the other hand, you all keep recommending me for more and more situations that defy conventional experience and wisdom. These new situations and problems will not be solved with the same kind of thinking that we have used to identify them (my friend Einstein thought of that one).

Just like our discussion of other principals in a district attacking successful principals. JM says this is like crabs in a bucket: you never need a lid because as soon as one almost crawls out, the others pull him back down. Now we have professionals behaving the same way. Interesting human psychology…

So I absolutely agree that “we stand on the shoulder of giants,” but as Newton said in the first part of that quote, “If I have seen farther,” (sometimes it pays to be a physicist). A twist on Newton’s 500 year old wisdom is that if we are going to have the privilege of standing on the shoulder of giants, we have an obligation to see further.

I in no way intended to impugn the giants. I am only suggesting this business is morphing underneath our feet and past experiences and thinking alone will not be enough to deal with the future. Moses did not get to see the Promised Land, for what its worth.

SC Response
As we do this more and more, we begin to see the things that were always there, but were covered up by more pressing and/or mundane emergencies. I agree we are experiencing a seismic shift, for which there are a number of reasons, three of the primary ones being:

1. A rapidly changing knowledge base. To adapt and thrive in today’s society, you simply have to know more, but more importantly, you have to ‘know how to know’. To ensure this requires a change in commonly accepted educational practices. What that change looks like is open to discussion. But, if what we do in each individual classroom does not create scores and scores of critical thinkers, then what we are doing can only be considered a work in progress.

2. A dramatic change in accountability. Quite simply, to quote Dr. Jim Davis, “Playing school is no longer enough.” Either we are teaching every student and every student is learning (to know how to know). Or else we have to face the fact that we are not getting the job done and we have not yet “arrived.”

3. We are standing on the shoulders of giants. We have a shot at solving these emerging problems because we don’t have to spend a significant amount of energy solving the problems that resemble the ones previously solved by the likes of Brown, Brezina, Richardson, and Schaper, just to name a few. You will appreciate this analogy, “Calculus is easy. It is the Algebra that is hard.” The way I look at it, the old guys figured out the Algebra, so we can tackle the Calculus.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…

The Fundamental Five Poster contest ends today. You have until 11:59 pm Pacific Time to submit your entry. Pizza for the staff and LYS Nation bragging rights are on the line.