You cannot be ready but you can be prepared
Posted February 16, 2015on:
Last week, this MindShift article suggested that educators not get caught up with the current narrative in most schooling systems.
The narratives that currently play out include systems that do not promote creativity and innovation, rudderless and unsustainable change, and administrative initiatives that do not necessary focus on learners.
The article suggested creating a new narrative instead. It started with this call to action:
If you’re a teacher, you have placed yourself in the most enviable, challenging, fulfilling role possible in the 21st century: You are responsible for co-creating a future that no one can imagine, and helping an untested generation of youth navigate unknown waters. Nothing—nothing—really prepares you for this role.
As good as that idea and the ideas that follow it are, I disagree that nothing can prepare teachers for the unknown.
Other sectors like the military and businesses prepare for the unknown by forecasting and anticipating. Schools are no exception.
There might also be a confusion between readiness and preparedness.
Readiness implies that you have thought of everything and have every response in place. Despite any preparation and practice, no organization can say it is absolutely ready for the VUCA future. We call our time VUCA but a look back into recent history will tell us every generation before us felt the same way.
Look at this another way. Schooling should not be an attempt to create learners to are ready to be workers because there are far too many gaps in schooling. Take this US-based example for instance.
I know of a US outfit that wants to address gaps like this, but focus in the area of soft skills instead. I read about a Singapore-based outfit that has got US-based funding to do something similar.
Even when you know what the gaps and needs are, you cannot get learners to be absolutely ready to be workers. You can only try to prepare them while bearing in mind that the preparation will be flawed.
So how might teachers become educators and prepare themselves better in order to prepare their students as best they can? They must go beyond consuming, knowing, and then ignoring good research or thought leadership. They must get into the mode of doing, failing, and learning.
The MindShift article started with an example of work that embraced social networks. If teachers want to not just monitor the pulse of change but also be immersed in it, they must blog, tweet, Instagram, curate, or otherwise create.
There is no substitute for being a participant in the world of the learner to anticipate what learners need. You cannot stand to one side or stay in your safe, walled-off zone and still claim that you know what is going on.
There is no harm in getting out occasionally to reflect and rise above. But you must jump in, get stuck in, and eventually learn to love the struggle. That is how you will get teachers who are never quite ready but are better prepared for now and the future of kids.