Focusing On Those You Serve

I shared this image the other evening:

I do not necessarily agree with each statement above, but I do think that it is a good conversation piece in the context of education.

In the last few months, I have been really challenging the idea of “data-driven”.  When you focus on the students in front of you, your chances of success grows.  What worked for other students in the past, may not work for the students you are working with today and in the future.  My friend Katie Martin shared the idea that although we need to look at the evidence of the past, we must also understand that if the context of the future changes, that those numbers could become irrelevant.  Think about it…Blockbuster obviously was a successful business model for years, and their numbers and research would show just that, but when they didn’t adapt to what was possible for serving their customers in the current context, and someone else came along and did, their business model became irrelevant.  Some people feel uncomfortable when you look at “businesses” and draw comparisons to education, but I feel much more uncomfortable ignoring what is happening in the world and not trying to better understand the implications for education.  We need to learn from both the failures and successes of others, to effectively move forward.

There is nothing wrong with looking at data and evidence of past learning; I encourage people to do so.  But to believe that keeping an eye on the past only as a way in serving the future is short-sighted and dangerous for any organization, including education as a whole.  My fear is that “schools” will be on the above image one day because we were focused more on “numbers and letters” than we were on students.  This is one of the reasons I wrote, “5 Questions to Ask Your Students To Start the School Year“. Many teachers have already used these questions, and/or adapted them, to better understand the students they serve, as well as their hopes and aspirations for the future. (On a side note, I am thinking about starting a hashtag for teachers using these five questions to hear about the process.)

This Seth Godin quote is a favourite:

Transformational leaders don’t start by denying the world around them. Instead, they describe a future they’d like to create instead.

Serving students first will always be the safest bet to continuously ensure the relevance of schools moving forward.  Learn from the past, but keep an eye on what is possible now and in the future.

Source: George Couros