The other day I paid a compliment to a principal for steering the (large) ship around and facing the future head on. As a leader, they can see the destination and they are holding true to their bearings, keeping the ship ‘steady as she goes’. It isn’t easy, I empathised. And you are doing great. This is great work that you are doing. (Honestly I wish I was more eloquent with my phrasing but it was entirely heart-felt).
Meanwhile, we will say ‘on shore’ others have their heads in the sand. They haven’t even boarded the ship. In fact, they are actively ignoring both the incoming tide and the ship. Though the ship has left the port and is turning slowly towards the sun they have their heads firmly in the sand. What future? What new world? Everything here is fine, just fine.
Unfortunately the technology revolution is the tide that is still coming in. We haven’t had ‘high tide’ yet (will we ever?) – but the tides are getting nearer and deeper. Those with their heads in the sand won’t even hear the waves, let alone see the water closing in.
There has been the pandemic wave, disruptions with technology, shifts in pedagogy, 21st Century skills waves, learner agency waves and collaboration waves. The disruptor waves just keep coming. And like tides, they will return again and again. If only they could lift their heads from the sand and start adapting.
Meanwhile, further along, others are playing in the sand. They are improvising, building barriers, utilising the incoming tide to build moats and reservoirs. They learn from low tides, experiment with high tides, paddle in small waves and prepare for storms. They have turned the sand into new substances and are reaping the rewards of ‘playing in the tides of change’. Castles are build, cities are built, buckets are gathered, new shapes are formed and reformed better and stronger with each tide.
Now you might think that the leader with the ship is abandoning these players – those who play and those with their heads in the sand. But no, the leader has more sand on board, more water, more experiments, more tide charts and many more play opportunities to explore while turning the ship to face the future head on.
Playing in the sand pit seems scary, yes. But it is also necessary. The pandemic is not an isolated disruption. The future is change, the future will be tidal, the best response we can have is to get comfortable getting messy. Jump in, feet first and take one wave at a time. It is not an expectation to surf straight away, but at least start dipping your toes in.
The sand pit is the learning pit. (James Nottingham’s analogy/theory) If we jump in together we can work together, share our learning, compare results, fail faster and adapt smarter.
The tide has already turned even if the ship is still turning.