Some great reflections here, Mark.
Arthur Chiaravalli
21

You’ve asked the million dollar question, I think Arthur. Better still, your efforts in setting up TG2 have demonstrated your willingness to put forth a potential answer. I greatly admire and respect your leadership and the modelling you do — you are out there being the change you want to see in the world. What you are starting, and those who you are gathering have the potential to change education, and do it in the right way: through dialogue, shared practice, collaboration, and respect for the journey that every learner is on.

I must admit that I am ‘flinching’ a bit though at the moment. If we have learned anything about our current system of education over the course of this journey we have been on in our writing and thinking is that it is incredibly flexible and resilient when it comes to normalizing potentially transformative change. The true test, I think, of the movement and community you have created will come soon. As it gains traction and attention there will be pressure to create a resource (silver bullet syndrome) or a brand related to it (speaker series), and systems will (with the best of intentions) start to pull out particularly good practitioners from communities to try and scale this pedagogy.

What comes out of this kind of appropriation is never good, in my experience. One of the great strengths in your approach is your understanding of context and how you honour the voices of those ‘at the table’. One of the first things that gets stripped away when publishers and systems get their hands on a ‘good’ idea is its contextual element. I will use my latest PD as an example. We had Katie Novak come in and present to a teacher and administrator from each of our schools about the UDL stance and why we need to adopt it. I even had the chance to have dinner with her and a bunch of other administrators — great opportunity, very smart, very funny educator with great ideas. However, through no fault of her own, she didn’t know our context, and we didn’t know hers, and there was no time to really develop that understanding. So, we got a wonderful presentation about how her district made the change and why — that has little relevance or applicability to our context. This will result in a standardization of adoption that will leech all of the valuable and transformative ‘stuff’ out of what she had to say (I think), at least on a system level.

Another of the things that your group does really well is respect the relational aspect of learning. The participants all listen as much as they talk — they support each other — and they share practice with an earnest desire for feedback. It seems almost counter-intuitive that you have managed to create good relationships via an online method, but this gives me hope that if used correctly social media can be a way to bring people together.

Sorry, total tangent here. I’m a fan though, and I want to see your work grow and continue in a way that moves education where it needs to go. You rock.

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