Do you need a hero?

This post is about an aha moment – that teachers need a hero too. If we ‘wear the shirt’ we will be better able to find our posse and achieve great things together.

I was teaching a year 12 student Photography and we were doing a collaborative critique of her latest shoot when her computer crashed unexpectedly. When she started her laptop up again I noticed her desktop wallpaper was covered with pictures of a celebrity crush. I was taken aback. I forgot how teens need to anchor themselves to other identities as part of their own identity construction/formation and the transfer of (it happened to be Harry Stiles) the celebrity beliefs, aesthetics, branding and politics was an instant ‘added value’ ‘aha’ moment for me and I was able to understand or ‘get’ the student better.

When I was her age I used music to anchor my identity too. The Cure, Depeche Mode, Bauhaus, REM and Siouxie and the Banshees. I wore the bands I was into like flags for others to see ‘the type of teen I am’. (I know REM is an anomaly in this cluster but I still love Michael Stipe).

As adults we are much less obvious. Maybe we have grown out of putting band posters on the wall. We have grown out of the band tees. We put landscapes on our desktop backgrounds. We dont need to talk about music or have the same albums to be friends. So how do we fly our flags?

It came to me that educators who know their heros and ‘put it out there’ are better able to find their pedagogical posse. Imagine if we all put quotes from our favourite authors on our profiles or wore constructivist tee shirts. Imagine if, when we opened our desktop you could see instantly what you believe the future of education should look like. This could be so inspiring and another way to connect, collaborate and join forces for the greater good. And it could be even be a reminder for what you are ‘crushing on’.

I was working with a teacher recently helping to design meaningful digital activities for improving writing process. What might success look like? Success would look like the students choosing tools deliberately knowing which tool matches which part of the thinking/planning/writing process. They should be able to talk about their learning and understabd how each tool helps their thinking and writing. Imagine how nuanced their understanding will be once they get to high school… thus project is exciting. We were flying a Piaget flag like wearing the same band tee shirt. We all need more moments like these.

When you teach a child something you take away forever his chance of discovering it for himself.

Jean Piaget

If you had to fly a flag or wear an educational hero tee, what would it be? Who would it be? How can you fly your flag?

It strikes me that if we all had a public pedagogical hero or heroes we could more easily align ourselves with people who also want to achieve that same vision. We can create a ‘scenius’ (a term coined by Brian Eno). There can be mutual appreciation, which can be like ‘motivational peer pressure’ which in mant ways is not unlike the teen fan page. We can join together as future fans of a collective future vision. We can wear the tee shirt and start dancing so that others can join in.

What is the scenius?

So who are your favourite educators? Can you name them and quote them? How might you ‘wear the shirt’? Who are they? What values does that align you with?

My favourites right now are Matt Church, David Price, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Simon Sinek, Jane Anderson and Lynne Cazaly.

Matt Church says, ‘Do what you love with people you like the way you want’. Put your band tee on (do what you love), to attract people you like (others who want to do what you love too) and start dancing (make the future possible together).

As David Price says “Personal faith can be a powerful force for public good.” How powerful is it, then, to put a poster up publicly?

“We shape our life by deciding to pay attention to it. It is the direction of our attention and its intensity that will determines what we accomplish and how well.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihaly

The funny thing is that all of this thinking was prompted from a kid’s Harry Stiles fan art on a desktop that wasnt even shown to me on purpose. And if I’m honest, I wasnt a fan before I saw the wallpaper and I didn’t really even know who he was – but the wallpaper prompted me to look him up. Get the student. Find more common ground.

Imagine the power of putting up our posters publicly.


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