Monday, February 16, 2015

Musings on failure, risk and the future

Every now and then we start things, and then along the way, we stop. For example, you go on a diet, you stick to it for a few days, you fall off the wagon with the delicious cakes your office had for morning tea, and then you don't get back on the diet wagon. Or, you start a blogging challenge, life gets in the way, and then you skip a few days. Then, next thing you know, you stop participating in the challenge altogether. The thing is, it is important, if not critical, that we get back on these wagons that we fall off from, and try again. 

Sometimes, as a school we try things and then do not succeed. However, if we stop trying to make change, is there a risk of larger failure in the long run? We see this same behaviour with students on a daily basis. A struggling student would rather not try because they might fail. Even though long term, we know that not trying leads to much bigger potential for failure. 

What does being risk averse and being resistant and suspicious of change mean for a school? What does this mean for a school, and for education in the short or long term? Even at Hobsonville Point where we are in a constant state of flux, we sometimes struggle with change (see a great post about this from Ros). Even if we are the agitators in schools, even if we are those desperate for change, we can often still make a fuss, a fuss of which the energy may better have been spent on something else.

The #edchatNZ community often talks about the growth mindset however developing a growth mindset in all situations is often easier said than done. In particular, how do you react when a change is made in your school that you are not particularly crazy about? Do we react by complaining, blaming, suggesting that the senior management is out of touch? How we react very much reflects our mindset. The growth mindset is not just about how we act in response to learning new information, it is also about how we respond when things do not go our way. 

Image Source
With these things in mind, I often wonder about the changes that are in store for education. To a great extent, education shapes the future of a society. If our rate of change is too slow to cope with the automation of so many jobs, what might society look like in the future? On the flip side, if we do in fact take more, small, calculated risks, then what might society look like? Or what might our society look like with the accumulation of many calculated risks towards an education system in New Zealand that lives up to the values of the New Zealand Curriculum?