Driving to Harvard

Photo Credit: Angie Harrison

One of the nice consequences of the move to my current school has been the drive to work has been extended by a few more minutes. Before we get to agitated about my carbon footprint, my previous commute was through mostly urban and suburban areas with lots of stopping and going in traffic. My new commute has me taking  a 30 minute trek on a lovely rural road with exactly 3 stop lights between my home and school with NO traffic (other than the odd farm tractor).

Rather than listen to the biased rants of talk radio hosts, or the overwrought, cliche-ridden ramblings of our local sports radio jocks about the fate of my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs; I’ve decided to make my mom proud and go to Harvard.Not in Cambridge but in the comforts of my shiny compact SUV.

Harvard has collected a great stash of education-related podcasts from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has made them available through iTunes U. They are all about 15 minutes in length and address a wide range of topics, both in the North American and global context.  I find listening to a podcast twice during my morning drive is a great way to flow the juices, launch the day and make the drive a reflective experience.

Two things that I’m tossing about right now spring from recent talks I’ve listened to by Richard Elmore and Wynton Marsalis on leadership, creativity and change:

1) Investing in teachers involves  more than throwing resources and training in their general direction. Investing in people means I have to give some of myself; my time, my interest, my passion. People are looking for leaders who get that and show it through their actions (not just their action plans)

2) Change is both incremental and dynamic. When we connect creative people around a purpose the change process will take time, but can leap and evolve in almost magical ways~ as long as we understand that it is the trust and the relationships that lead to the growth and not mandates or external pressures.

I’m grateful to our colleagues at Harvard for investing in my learning, and for setting an example of one way that personalized, just in time learning can work. I’m also grateful for my time I have to drive my way to becoming a better person (and leader).


  1. Brian,

    I really enjoyed this post. Using your time wisely and taking advantage of effective podcasts, such as the one you described from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, can earn you a whole new education.

    Thanks for sharing, Shawn

    February 24, 2012
    • Brian Harrison said:

      Hi Shawn,

      Thanks for the reply and the positive feedback. I find that the podcasts really help me start the day off in a learner’s stance. It’s so easy in this job to get trapped into mulling over events, as opposed to reflecting upon them in a more open minded manner. The issues and ideas shared in the podcasts help contextualize the experiences I have and turn them into learning opportunites. Besides, who wouldn’t want to carpool with Richard Elmore?



      February 24, 2012

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