creating a whole brain model for education reform

Image: Brain Dissolving Detail by flora.cyclam made available by a creative commons license on flickr.

The Information Age we all prepared for is ending. Rising in its place is what I call the Conceptual Age, an era in which mastery of abilities that we’ve often overlooked and undervalued marks the fault line between who gets ahead and who falls behind. (Daniel Pink, Revenge of the Right Brain, Wired 13.02, 2005)

This is where we need to focus – right within that fault line.

I believe that it is where current reform, at least in Quebec, is trying to focus. But the fact that we are in a transitional space, the fact that we are trying to implement a reform that highlights right brain activity such as synthesis, emotional expression, and context within a left-brain structure that continues to emphasize the importance of literalness and sequencing through end of session exams…well…this is problematic. It’s problematic because the two notions are competitive. I hear teachers saying ALL THE TIME that they can not afford to focus on collaboration and knowledge management when they are working towards a traditional end of course exam.

We know that both hemispheres of the brain work in tandem for much of what we do. It would be interesting to extend this concept to educational organizations. Instead of working within a competitive structure we could teach and learn within structures that are whole.

Questions to ask are

  • How can we create a ‘mashup’ of left and right brain tasks and environments that make sense to kids as learners and teachers as educators?
  • How can we create professional development experiences that not only teach these ideas but model them as well?
  • How can we manage the transitions?

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Why technology in schools? And how do I lead something that is constantly changing? ;)

It’s almost a moot point – why technology in schools?


Because, as is so strikingly underlined in Did you know 2.0 (Shift Happens) technology can not be separated from the rest of life, it has become enmeshed with what we know, do, and understand about many things. In particular for our students today who were born in, around, and since the mid-90s.

As a teacher I felt obligated to continue my learning around Internet and video technologies since those were the communication technologies through which my students learned best.

As a leader I continue to feel that obligation because I whole-heartedly expect the teachers I work with to have the same kind of passion for how their students learn as I do. If I am going to work from within these kinds of expectations, I need to know the technologies that students are using now. I need to know the technologies that can help our increasingly visual and kinesthetic learners to know, understand, and do all of the competencies that are set out for them by the Quebec Education Program.

In order to be an effective leader for technology I need to walk the talk. I can not expect the teachers I work with to try something new if I am not willing to learn as well. We know that as teachers we are constantly modeling the behaviour kids will determine as appropriate just because we are modeling it. The same goes for educational leaders, we are certainly not above that level of scrutiny.

So how do I lead something that is constantly changing? That is the fun part! I need to allow myself to be a constant student, I need to be constantly learning.


This post was inspired by Scott McLeod’s July 4th call for posts on technology leadership.