I will never keep you from an open door – an impact pact?

I will never keep you from an open door is a lyric in a love song, a testament to not holding someone back, to letting them thrive without being excluded from the potential beyond the open door. It’s from a great song called ‘For sure’ by Future Islands (one of my favourite bands).

‘I will never keep you from an open door’ – Let’s take that line and reapply it – how can we do that as educators? How can we do that as parents?

The door is wide open to the future. It is a wide white rectangle of all of the adjacent possibles. Are we giving students/young people the resources and skills they need to step out boldly into the light? Or are we holding them back because, selfishly, we want to keep things the way they were? Because it’s more comfortable for us.

It’s an interesting analogy. If we invest in our children and really believe in their future success, what do we need to change so that the open door can be walked through? Recently a teacher with a ‘dark black hat’ on (de bono’s hats) exclaimed, ‘I didnt sign up for this! I am not an ICT teacher. If kids want to learn online they can do correspondence!’ (This was a reaction to exploring hybrid learning). It was a big harumph moment. So much change, so much pressure, so much digital stuff. It’s scary. I’m not doing it.

Is it a parent’s responsibility to talk about digital citizenship? Is it a teacher’s? The door is open, are we giving kids the skills to navigate beyond the door?

What do you think lies beyond the open door? If we don’t address some of these future needs, surely we are blocking the way? We might harumph and fold our arms and may as well hold onto the students’ ankles and shackle them in place. It makes me uncomfortable to think that educators (and parents) can keep the door closed. It makes me even more uncomfortable to think that adults can point to an open door but not provide a valid pass to navigate the exit. Most uncomfortable, though, is the active holding back and weighing down by not budging, not letting anything in, not shifting even just a little.

Whose responsibility is it to open the door? Whose is it to prepare them for walking through it? Whose is it to provide a key?

The future is full of new technology. It has a metaverse. It has a vast and growing internet of things. It is connected and shifting. It is a writhing changeable beast of a thing that requires students to be expert navigators and upstanders – they need to be digitally fluent, critically conscious, capable of collaboration, connected, agile, aware of digital etiquette and related dangers with a creative approach to problem-solving. They need to have a growth mindset, the capacity to pivot, have an understanding of community and information technology and be able to continue learning once they step through the door. That white rectangle, that open door, they need to be equipped to step through it and thrive.

‘I will never keep you from an open door’. It makes a great line in a love song, but it really pierces deeply if we think of our duty to be door openers for tomorrow’s doors. It’s an impactful pact to navigate the future possible.

No more harumphing.

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