Creating “Purposeful Conflict”

I tweeted this article from Tina Seelig, “Teaching — It’s about Inspiration, Not Information“, and asked the following question on Twitter:

Curious what you think about this quote from Tina Seelig? Some would be on the exact opposite side of this spectrum:

Finally, never tell students what they need to do to get an “A” in the class.If you do, they will inevitably do the minimum amount to get the grade they want. Instead I tell my students to “never miss an opportunity to be fabulous.” I promise to deliver my very best in each class, and I expect the same from them. I also tell them that I have no problem giving everyone an “A,” but that the bar is very high.

The conversation that ensued after was great, with people on both sides of the spectrum.  Why the quote stopped me on my tracks was that I recently watched a video with Dylan Wiliam and it seemed that he gave the exact opposite advice.  He wanted clear connections to the learning, and that students should know expectations clearly.  Opposite ends of the spectrum, yet both focused on ensuring that students are successful.

Yet is one focused on students doing well at “school”, while one is focused on “creativity and innovation”?  If I give a student a concrete set of ways to get somewhere, what room is there for creativity and innovation?  Yet, if students can’t understand what is needed, there are areas that they might struggle.  Government organizations don’t necessarily want you to be “creative” when doing your taxes.

So if both are needed, how do we make it happen? How much time is allocated in learning?  How often do we have students set their own expectations and guidelines, or do we do it for them, and if we do, is it too often or not enough?  Is this something more for our older students, or do we need to start younger so that students become too “schooled”?

Lots of questions, but I do not have a clear answer.  Hopefully you don’t either.  The reason I share this quote and an opposing side is that these types of ideas are wonderful for times with our community where we create this “purposeful conflict”. Do we discuss, debate, and share ideas like this so that we can learn from one another.

To be honest, I threw the question out there on Twitter, and just sat back.  People were all over the place, but here was my favourite tweet:

That was the point in the first place. For people to discuss, think, and have ideas where they were, while having the openness to learning from other viewpoints.

Creating “purposeful conflict” in our learning time with one another teaches not only to debate ideas, but how to do it in respectful ways, and learning from one another, while helping our schools move forward.

What are some of your big statements that might create some “grey” in your staff discussions?

-Purposeful Conflict is crucial to the grow

Source: George Couros