Slow Thinking and Great Questions

“Close Your Eyes and Smile!”
Lisa Thuman & Liz Davis facilitating at EduCon2.4
(photo from Flickr, by Stephen Ransom, aka @ransomtech)

From David Jakes’ powerful “What if…” framing to Zac Chase‘s investigation of inquiry as a tool, questions ruled the day at EduCon 2.4 this year.

It was my third year attending live (the first year I had to attend virtually because I had a terrible cold), and once again I collected pre- and post-reflections from other attendees in a digital archive.

I attended great sessions again this year, most of which have already been reflected upon by someone else by now.

It occurred to me, while sitting in a fantastic session facilitated by Kirsten Olson, Chad Sansing, Christina Cantrill, and Paul Oh (via Skype) and thinking about contributing, that maybe part of the reason I like collecting others’ reflections on the experience is that I know it will take me a while to process my own reflections. That session was the first time I’ve ever “outed” myself as a slow thinker to a group of people. Later someone said to me, “You just need more processing time,” which I think might be true.

Since then, I’ve told several more people about my “drink deeply, process, then reflect transparently” pattern, and have had some great conversations come out of that. It felt like a risky admission the first time, but has felt less and less so with each subsequent re-telling. (You’d think I would have been able to predict this classic “coming out” pattern!)

Another thread I noticed running through the sessions this year at EduCon was the increasing emergence of the “how can we ask this of students if we’re not even willing to try it ourselves?” meme. I saw and hears more introspection on the part of educators about their roles… within their classrooms, their schools, and their learning communities.

Conferences like EduCon and the edcamps, coupled with Twitter, have changed how I think about thinking.

I’m more willing to share a thought that feels nascent and unformed, because I’ve seen others do so and been grateful for it. I’m much more interested in tapping into the genius of the room than I am in “standing and delivering” up at the front. (I’ve heard several people say that edcamp has “spoiled them” on traditional conferences… more on that in a future post.) I’m more aware than ever of who’s NOT in the room, partially because of the continuing challenge of inclusivity, and because I can always feel myself leaning in when someone is speaking from their individual, lived experience. And my inability to coax, cajole, or otherwise convince anyone from my current school community to join me at EduCon makes me wonder… about my own abilities as a leader, and about how many different guises resistance to change can take.

I continue to long for the opportunity to hear more student voices, and wonder how EduCon would feel if the call for conversations explicitly stated that proposals which included student perspectives would be given preference. (It’s a tribute to EduCon‘s focus on the idea of co-creation that I can even imagine such a thing; so many conferences seem to (rightly?) assume that students wouldn’t want to have anything to do with such an event.) And everywhere I go, sensitized as I am, I see and hear other people asking questions about who’s in the room:
So… I left EduCon determined to nudge my work in schools closer to something that feels like co-creation. And I came home feeling clearer about the fact that I am now more interested in asking great questions than in finding right answers. I find that I’m lifting others’ questions up for sharing more often as well. Questions like Bud Hunt’s, who in this post asked, “How do you build love and care into your systems and infrastructures and learning environments and experiences?” Or Shelley Wright’s, who recently asked, “What are you doing to fire up their curiosity, rather than just demanding their compliance?”

(I’m so pleased to be getting this post up!
It’s over a month since EduCon2.4 wound down.
I wonder if I’ll be the
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Posted on February 22, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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