Sunday, 12 February 2012

UDL: Engagement and Prophecy

The theologian Ronald Rolheiser stated that "to be prophetic is to be able to describe the present" (2011). 

What motivates our students?  What tools do they use to communicate?  What does society expect of them? How do we prepare them to be contributing citizens?  As educational leaders in a digital world, I sense we are further outside of our comfort zone than ever before in trying to answer these questions.  This is disconcerting when we are supposed to be leading the way.

The consultation process of the BC Education Plan  helps address these shortcomings and most importantly engages a particular group of stakeholders who are far more prophetic than we are - the students.  By putting into motion this process with our youth, the Ministry of Education is leading by example and challenging the rest of us to "let go of the rope" - as described by superintendent Larry Espe in his latest blog.  This direction also recognizes the latest brain research that proves how diverse the learning journey is for each individual.   Engaging the students in an educational setting in a variety of ways is one of the cornerstones of the Universal Design for Learning framework:

A failure to be prophetic - to be able to realize what is happening around us - prevents us from taking action and articulating a vision for the future.  In his book "The 5th Discipline" Peter Senge uses the metaphor of the boiled frog to describe this phenomenon (2006 - 2nd ed):

If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will of course frantically try to clamber out. But if you place it gently in a pot of tepid water and turn the heat on low, it will float there quite placidly. As the water gradually heats up, the frog will sink into a tranquil stupor, exactly like one of us in a hot bath, and before long, with a smile on its face, it will unresistingly allow itself to be boiled to death.

 Describing what is and what could be, is not only our mission, it is the basic structure for great oratory that has inspired people time and again.  I was fascinated with a recent Ted Talk given by Nancy Duarte that reveals this structure in a comparison between speeches by Steve Jobs and Martin Luther King.  I'll leave you with this structure - and talk - have a great week,

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