Monday, June 29, 2009

Reflections on NECC - Day 1 (or maybe 2)

There was a really mixed response to Gladwell's speech yesterday. Some loved it, others hated it, and some were left with a mediocre feeling. I was left a little disappointed for two reasons:

1. He is such a terrific storyteller in print and that did not translate into his presentation last night. He was not fluid in his presentation and I felt he did not really know his audience. Plus it doesn't help when some of your facts are wrong in front a very educated group of people.

2. He took the most powerful point in the entire presentation and flew right past it. At about the 22 minute mark he mentioned, very quickly, that we have to challenge our students to believe that they have the power to create change in their own life. Then he skipped back over to another story.

I don't know if he was pressed for time (he could have got some back by leaving out 4 of the 6 one liners he opened with), but this was a major point that really needs to be brought forward. It is at the heart of all of his writing and stories. To me it is the thread that ties them all together. Unique events and people happen because one person chooses to change and others follow.

Believing that you have the power to change your world is efficacy. There are hundreds of studies on efficacy in the classroom (including this piece of junk) that point to it having the potential to change the way people interact with the world. We need to teach our kids that they are in control of their future. There may be factors in their lives that put them at a disadvantage, but they have the power to go beyond it and be stronger for it. They have the power to choose to succeed.

Over the past 2 days I attended Edubloggercon (awesome event), have been touring the city, have been catching up with my PLN, and attended the opening keynote. In all of this one little part of the tour of the city really hits home and makes this point. Yesterday I was at the FDR Memorial and there is a little part when you enter called "Prologue" that was added after the memorial was built (here for why). This is what it looks like:


(Image from Wikipedia)

To me - the most important part of this part of the memorial are the words etched in the wall behind FDR. They are the words of Eleanor Roosevelt.

"Franklin's illness...gave him strength and courage he had not had before"




This is at the heart of what Gladwell spoke to last night. Very average people (just like me) can become great - no matter what odds are stacked against us - should we decide to take control of our lives and be great. It is going to take time and it is going to take effort, but if we choose to succeed, the odds are greater that we will.

As educators we need to do what it takes to help our students to believe in themselves and to use their talents, their challenges, and the world around them to shape their lives and empower themselves to become great.

2 comments:

Ms. Terry said...

"They have the power to choose to succeed."

I am about to leave to go to teach my summer school credit recovery science class. The 21 students I am teaching through CIV are all from Arkansas Delta schools. I tell them things like this every day. Thank you for preparing me for the day.

Henry Thiele said...

Ms. Terry thanks for letting me know that I helped prepare you for your day - that made mine!