Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Little Rebellion Now and Then is a Good Thing

Thomas Jefferson once said, "A little rebellion now and then is a good thing." To completely understand what Jefferson meant you have to examine him as a person. For a number of reasons, he was a complicated and controversial leader. Jefferson said many things one way, but acted in a much different way in regards to slavery, politics, religion, and education. However, Jefferson understood one thing very well and that is that there are times when it is important to challenge the status quo when the climate is changing. He also understood that "rebellion" is not meant to persist when it has run its course.  The balance that Jefferson found in this knowledge helped him to be one the most impacting leaders in American History.
Being the history teacher that I am, let me continue with some examples. The Commanche tribe were a small, dwindling tribe before the introduction of the horse. The Pueblo revolt dispersed wild horses throughout the Southwest and the Commanche soon adopted their lifestyle to the horse. Many of the other tribes decided not to make use of the horse and some decided to only use it sparingly. Because of the Commanche's willingness to embrace this new creature, they became one of the most powerful tribes in all of North America. So much so that the Texas Rangers had to be establish to combat them, because the old tactics of the US Calvary proved to be worthless against the Commanche.
Abraham Lincoln understood that his most important job in 1861 was to preserve the union. He also understood that our nation could not continue on the path of slavery. Before the 13th Amendment was passed, many argued against it because they felt that it would extend the war with the Confederates. Lincoln understood that ending the war and ending slavery were both necessary. The war and the end of slavery completely changed the landscape of the south. He also understood that against all odds, he had to push for its passing because the Emancipation Proclamation would not be enough. Many tried to convince him that he must end the war first before tackling the slavery issue.  However, Lincoln, understood that the two were inseparable and although he died in the process, the end of slavery is his greatest legacy.
Steve Jobs was not a very popular person in his younger days. He was known as someone who was difficult to work with and someone who was not committed to fitting in with the hi-tech community. When Steve Jobs And Steve Wozniak began their work together, they were starting a quiet rebellion that would resonate for generations to come. The Steves were primed to make technology accessible to all rather than just a few. They were willing to put in hours and hours in their quest to make a change. The rest is history.
What does all of this have to do with education? Well, we are currently in the midst of a huge transition and and reawakening in education. Technology is being introduced into classrooms as we speak. Some educators will choose to use technology to join the small  "rebellion" against the old status quo. Some will choose to not utilize the technology to its full capacity. We must transform education.
I am not saying that there are not great fundamental teaching practices that must carry over. Good sound teaching must always persist. Students must focus, they need structure to their environment, they need the teacher to be active as a guide to learning. As I always say, a good teacher could teach with a stick and a rock. However, we also must embrace the fact that our kids are stepping into a different world that requires them to work with technology. This takes a transition from the status quo. We may not like the inundation with technology. We may see teachers struggle to effectively use the technology for higher level thinking. However, we must work to overcome and adapt to make our students successful. We as educators owe it to our students to work tirelessly to effectively make the transition to meaningful, challenging, and relevant learning through technology. Technology is not the "rebellion" or revolution that I am talking about. The revolution is our ability to use that technology in a meaningful way to make our students successful in the classroom and beyond! Leading is Teaching.

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