The Rip Effect: Power Up, Power Down

“Instead of pouring knowledge into people’s heads, you need to help them grind a new set of eyeglasses so they can see the world in a new way.”  -John Seely Brown

Any modern day Rip Van Winkle who may have awoken only to find themselves immersed in our fast-moving, tech-infused, connected world…would be utterly overwhelmed by the amount of information and data intake that we consume on a daily basis.

To provide perspective on this data consumption and creation, according to Eric Schmidt, “we create as much information in two days now as we did from the dawn of man through 2003.”  Which is both incredible to consider and difficult to fathom.

It is this level of information about our current world that gives even more merit to John Seely Brown’s quote from The Global Achievement Gap that provides this perspective for the future…“The real literacy of tomorrow entails the ability to be your own personal reference librarian – to know how to navigate through confusing, complex, information spaces and feel comfortable doing so.  ‘Navigation’ may well be the main form of literacy for the 21st century.”

As we envision learning in this age of connectedness, it requires deep consideration and reflection for the advancement of our educational institutions, in regards to…Where have we been?  Where are we currently at?  And where are we going?  All of which require introspection before we consider next steps.

As I reflect on a recent review of Wagner’s Global Achievement Gap, a consideration we may currently be facing is one of a ‘power up, power down’ divide.  Our students live in two different worlds.  The ‘power up’ connected world of home and the ‘power down’ dis-connected world of school.  As much as Rip Van Winkle would be amazed by the connected world that he would find himself immersed in upon awakening in modern day society…he would less than likely feel that same out of place, discomfort being plunged into the majority of our current classrooms.

The Rip Effect is about acknowledging and scratchng at the core of concerns that Wagner mulls over in the Global Achievement Gap…it is about understanding that our students have been raised in a digital world “tethered to the internet and instant communication” in ways that were not even possible twenty-years ago…

And a question that should very well take us to task…“has that changed what we are doing?” 

Better yet, if any modern day Rip Van Winkle found themselves revived in one of our current classrooms after a 20 year nap, what would the reaction be?  Or, would the answer be dependent on the classroom in which he awoke?  And in all honesty…for some ‘entirely, from top to bottom’ and for others ‘not much at all’.

Careful consideration of this question determines our starting point.  Which means an action is a necessity.  If we are to invoke change then we have to begin with an action.  And in an effort to simplify, let’s consider three broad areas as a starting point for at least one action as we move to close the ‘power up, power down’ divide.

Action Step: Leadership…determine an action step to support leading your school forward as you address the changing needs of our students and schools.  Will require modeling from leadership to take hold and gain traction. (How do we ‘power up’ our school?)

Action Step: Instruction…determine an action step to support the changes in how our current students access and learn.  A focus on the learning, rather than on teaching and presenting.  (How do we ‘power up’ our instruction?)

Action Step: Students…determine an action step that promotes engagement, such as experiences that are multimedia and collaborative in nature that effect what student’s are learning and creating down to the level of the individual desk.  Look to create student ownership in the learning process.  (How do we ‘power up’ the learning?)

Consider three action steps.  Remove possibilities for paralysis of action.  Engage.  Stay simple.  Most of all, just start.  And overcome the Rip Effect.


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