The Reflective Educator

Education ∪ Math ∪ Technology

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Day: June 25, 2011

Rocky start to ISTE11

I’m finally in Philadelphia and able to relax a bit, but the trip to get here was something else.

It start on Friday morning, when I was woken up especially early by an exuberant little boy who wanted to play with his daddy. We played for a bit, and then I got ready for work. Next, I head to work and have two meetings before presenting to my colleagues on 30 tech tools in 30 minutes. We then had our final staff meeting, had lunch, and I finished up some last minute work for the year, and finally I headed home.

Once home, I spent about 4 hours cleaning and packing as we are moving next week. Exhausted, my wife, son and I drove to the airport where we said our good-byes. With my son nearly in tears, I headed off for the obligatory 2 hour transfer from the check-in counter to the gate, through security. At 11pm, the flight took off.

After 3 hours where I sat in a cramped chair and struggled to sleep, I arrived in Chicago. Looking at my itinerary, I realized I had an hour to try and get to the next flight, so I sprinted to customs, and then ran to catch a train to the right terminal, which unfortunately I just missed. I waited around for what felt like 15 minutes, and finally got on a train from terminal 5 allll the way to terminal 1. Arriving in Terminal 1, I found out that I had to go through security again, which took 35 minutes. Not entirely sure of the time, once I left security, I sprinted in my socks to my gate, to see the doors of the departure gate were already closed and no one left to board the plane. Sigh.

I was fortunate to be rerouted to a 7:30am flight, which of course was on the other side of the airport. I took a shuttle bus, racing between moving airplanes and wondering if I could be accidentally squished. I got to the flight, got a chance to sit down, discovered I would have to pay for Wifi so I could update the EdubloggerCon people that I would be unable to present due to the flight delay. Finally, I got to board the flight, about 15 minutes delayed, at which time I was forced to endure another hour delay.

Landing in Philadelphia 2.5 hours later than expected, and disappointed to be missing EdubloggerCon already, I found out that my bag hadn’t arrived in Philadelphia with me. I wandered from Delta to United to US Airways until I found someone helpful who told me that my bag would be on the 1pm plane from Chicago. I gave her the address of my hotel, and took a taxi to #TEDxPhiladelphiaED, stopping to get a hot dog on the way, the only food I’ve had at this stage in the past 15 hours.

So now I’m sitting in the #TEDxPhiladelphia theatre, listening to a wonderful story from Barbara Allen, hungry, a bit smelly, and very, very tired, but also very grateful that I’m finally here for the International Society for Technology in Education conference.

Is there only one way?

One way sign
(image credit: dionnehartnett)

 

One basic assumption we often have about life is that there is only way to get things done. We struggle to see paths other than the one before us. Sometimes we are so blind to the alternate views of reality that we construct arguments against why they are possible, rather than accepting the evidence in front of our eyes.

I recently discovered that there are at least 2 other ways of tying one’s shoes, for example, a fact I did not know for nearly 30 years. I have almost certainly witnessed literally thousands of different people tying their shoes over the years but have never noticed these other methods before now. I only noticed because I’ve been helping my son learn how to tie his own shoes, I’ve been reflecting on how shoes are tied, and then suddenly noticed that there are people who’s shoes are tied using completely different methods than what I’m familiar.

If I can be wrong about something simple like shoes being tied, what else could I be wrong about? Maybe one reason why education reform is such a struggle right now is that the many sides of the debate can only see the direction with which they are familiar? I don’t think that my vision of what education reform should be is wrong, but am I being myopic?

 

Fork in path
(image credit: bertiemabootoo)

 

Every path has a fork. Sometimes you can double-back and try a different path, but you are never stuck on the one you’ve chosen. No path is one way. One thing is clear though, it is rare that two forks of a path lead to the same place. Let us remember that while we may not like the path that is being chosen for us in education reform, when the pendulum swings again, we can retrace our steps, and hopefully undo a lot of the damage that is being done.

I’d like to help the people in charge of the reform see that they are on what I think is the wrong path, but I also need to keep my eyes open and look for the evidence they see that convinces them that they are on the right path. Without understanding why they are so sure of their direction, I cannot expect to be able to convince them of the error of their ways. Similarly, I must be open to the possibility that it is me who is on the wrong path.

I don’t think that’s true though. I just think I have a different destination in mind.