Ideas, Influence, Impact

Posts tagged ‘capacity’

Jack Climbs the Rock

This weekend, my family attended a function that was outdoors with a lot of large rocks that were to be used for seating.  My son, Jack, decided that he was going to stand on the rock instead.  Instantly, when I noticed that Jack was trying to climb the rock, I tried to lift Jack up so it would be easier for him to stand on the rock.  Jack – all of 18 months old – swatted my hand away and carefully hoisted himself up on the rock.  He first knelt on the rock and then, once he got his bearings, stood up.  His smile was so large, you would have thought he had climbed a mountain.


I stood there both happy for Jack and frustrated with myself.  I was upset with myself because I almost robbed Jack of this moment – this purely joyous moment.  Like all good parents, I wanted Jack to be safe.  And he showed me he was as he climbed that rock alone.


When I return back to school, I hope I remember this lesson.  For our students to truly experience the joy of learning, they have to know the struggle.  They have to struggle alone.  And we have to be there – ready for support, ready to keep them safe, and ready to not be needed.  I hope Jack is just as happy with learning at 18 years as he is at 18 months.


Every educator needs to pledge to keep it so, make it so, for every student.  


Stretch Your Capacity

Every day  – every. single. day. – we have the opportunity to test our limits.  To see how far we can go.  And for most of us, we never come close to seeing our full potential, to know the true possibilities.  We claim that life has thrown some obstacle (or many obstacles) in the way, and we will not be able to stretch ourselves until we address the obstacle(s).

Well, when you hurdle the obstacle, circumvent the obstacle, or just plain smash the obstacle, you are beginning to stretch yourself.  You are beginning to test yourself to see how far, how high, how deep you can go.  You are beginning the process of seeing your limits.  And once you see your limits, you will be able to see that much farther.

But we often don’t challenge ourselves.  We often hide behind fear or anxiety or worry, instead of letting ourselves shine in the light.  I see so many people unwilling to “leave it all on the floor”.  Instead, they do what is possible, what is approximate, what is do-able, and then move on.  I have been guilty of this many times.  But, I have also started to challenge myself to test my limits.  To see how far I can truly go.  To stand squarely in the limelight.

Yes, I am worried where the journey will take me.  I must have faith that it is better, more rewarding, more enriching that what I have now.  We may want to settle for good (and there is so little wrong with ‘good’), but what would it take for ‘great’?

How much would we need to stretch to feel great, to make something great, to have a great legacy?  It is scary, nerve-wracking, and also exhilarating to think of being great.

I want it.  I want to see how far I can really go.  I hope you do, too.  Help me build my legacy.  Challenge me to be great.  I promise to do the same for you.

It’s time to start s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g!

Learning is Everywhere

We need to recognize that learning does not take place solely in a classroom or even the hallways of the school.  Learning is a natural human function that occurs in every moment in every location in which we exist.  Looking at learning as a more holistic process – a more a naturalistic process – we need to realize that learning occurs in our community.  Therefore CBE (now as “competency-based education”) can also stand for “Community-Based Education” with the same goal of high-quality, deep understanding of learning skills and practices for all students.

There are many people who are supportive of CBE . . . and many who are concerned about it.  I recognize both of those viewpoints because the reasons for supporting it are the same for being frightened of it.  CBE is a game-changer.  The same rules cannot apply.  Education in Iowa, and in America, will be fundamentally different.  At its core, CBE supports a deep and enduring vision of what is learning.  It is something that is used by a person in various aspects of life, not just tested in a classroom.  Within a community, we can see learning occur, and a community can support learning with all of its inherent resources.

My simple assertion is for all educators, parents, community members, and legislators to recognize truly what is learning, and then commit to transforming our current system into one that can fully support learning.  I know it can be done – it is already happening.  We just need to build the capacity and the courage to take a small-scale success in a few communities and make it large-scale in the state of Iowa and across the country.

Please, challenge my thoughts so I can think better.  I know I have more to learn (whenever and wherever that may occur).

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