Wanted: Authors, Designers, Producers, Engineers

Wanted: Authors, Designers, Producers, Engineers
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If you are one of the following please report to the classroom and continue reading:

Last week I was given the chance to fly to Bangkok for the EARCOS Leadership Conference.  It was at this conference last year that I presided over a symposium of school heads to discuss their thoughts on leadership.  If you attended the symposium or have followed the blog you may know that it was designed to be the capstone on a year long journey of interviewing various school leaders from around the world.  Capturing this knowledge was the original purpose of this blog, and really mostly for my own selfish benefit.  In the process I took some steps to make the blog visually appealing, namely contracting a young Filipina web designer that I’ve actually never met in person (thanks Cat).

As I traveled over to the conference this year I changed planes in Seoul, South Korea where I began to see some familiar international school faces.  In a brief conversation with a school head that I had never previously met, he asked whether I was that guy who started the blog, and mentioned enjoying reading it.  In reflection of this conversation I’ve seen how my simple quest for leadership knowledge in some small way has been helpful for others.  I mention this because although I never originally intended this site to be a product, in some ways it has become a way for others to learn more about education and leadership ideas around the world.

Rightfully, we expect our teachers to be lifelong learners, and often bullet point this on a job description, but this value misses an important trait: the practice of sharing what’s been learned.

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of meeting with Dr. Yong Zhao, author of World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, who visited Punahou to speak to and consult with the faculty in our journey to transform our Junior School curriculum to fully inquiry-based.  In his book and through his conversations with our faculty he continually mentioned the value of students creating products from their learning that are purposeful and provide values to others.  This is instead of the conventional poster or some other gimmicky way of showing what was learned.

Lately as we’ve been moving this conversation forward at our school one of the topics of discussion has included the question: In addition to developing entrepreneurial skills in our students is it necessary to develop more entrepreneurial teachers?  I’d argue yes, and believe this blog is an example of how this process can be transformative, which it has been for me.  Rightfully, we expect our teachers to be lifelong learners, and often bullet point this on a job description, but this value misses an important trait: the practice of sharing what’s been learned.  I’m lucky, since at Punahou there are a number of fellowships and grants designed to provide funding for this kind of scholarship, although an emphasis on creating a product could continue to be sharpened.

That being said, I’ve been astonished this year how a journey to communicate what I’ve learned has continually pushed me to be sensitive about what other might want to know and how I can best share it.  Hopefully, as you and your community strive to be lifelong learners you’ll take the extra and important step of preparing it for production.

Has your school created a community of professionals who publish, produce, engineer, create, and design products for the world?  How does this effect your students?

Author: Andy Aldrich

Andy is a founder of Learn[ed]Leadership as well as a school administrator at Punahou School in Honolulu, HI. In addition to pontificating on ideas in education, Andy stays busy chasing after his daughter and impressing his wife with his big muscles.

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4 Comments

  1. We’re moving our school in that direction of visible shared learning and conversations. Not easy but we’ll eventually get to the point where people see the value in it and desire to do so. In art, we’re told to daily make and create. I feel that same consistency of output–along with reflection, applies to other areas of life and especially on our journeys as educators. Appreciate what you put together here and keep the learning coming.

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    • Thanks for the encouraging words Salome. In addition to art, what are some examples of products your colleagues are creating? If an idea, lesson, product, got enough traction in the teaching community that it pushed your teachers to travel, consult, present, etc would your school support their absence once or twice a year? I’ve wondered if schools naturally discourage this kind of work in their teachers, because it could pull them away from the classroom. Or maybe we just don’t give teachers enough “space” to create and think that they rarely get to this point anyway. What do you think? Has your school provided extra “space” or time to let teachers create and think?

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  2. It’s just startling to percolate, but here in Shanghai it’s all about the coffee. We are starting to work on developing real, long-term relationships with coffee farmers in Yunnan, and sustainably sourcing quality beans. Regularly roasting our own coffee up on the roof, selling to our community with our own branding and design. We will also probably need to bring in some better equipment for our school’s cafe, but in the end, I think we serve some of the best espresso-based beverages in mainland China.
    Maybe we can work on a special Kona/Yunnan Blend.

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    • Wow! This sounds right up your alley. So what does a “long-term relationship” with Yunnan coffee farmers look like for Concordia and your students? Do students have an opportunity to drive this idea? In what ways? I always thought there was an opportunity at your campus to provide student jobs in the cafe with a little oversight from a full-time employee.

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