Archives For heart

In his post It’s never been as easy to be an intellectual Seth Godin asks the following questions and then suggests that we badly need these kinds of people who are willing to do this work:

  • Do you click through to see the underlying data?
  • Are you aware of both the status quo and the argument against it?
  • Have you done the reading?
  • Are you comfortable asking, “why?”
  • Do you know how it works?
  • When someone knows more about something than you do, are you willing to catch up?
  • If the data makes it clear that you’ve taken the wrong position, are you eager to change your mind?
  • Are you interested in having a spirited conversation about the way things are, the way they were, they way they might become?
  • Can you set aside your worldview, at least for a few minutes, to consider an alternative way to look at the situation?

When I first read this post my ego was stroked because I have a tendency to see myself as an intellectual. There is a part of me that likes to engage things on a purely intellectual or rational level and, until recently, I had tried to limit the emotional side of perspectives because I foolishly believed that emotions or the heart just got in the way. Personal experience and too many life lessons have taught me that the head won’t go where the heart hasn’t been regardless of how rational the argument. Life has also taught me that we are complex beings and rather then try and ignore our hearts we really need to engage them along with our intellects if we really want to learn.

I think Godin is on the right track with his post, but I think he is missing the bigger picture. I suggest that we factor in the heart, or the affective domain, as Bloom recommends, then we can argue that it’s never been as easy to be a learner. The heart must also be engaged if we are to truly make meaningful connections and learn.

References

Bloom, B. S. (1974). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook 1-2. Longmans: McKay.

Godin, S. (2015, November 22). Did you do the reading? Retrieved from http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/11/did-you-do-the-reading.html

Godin, S. (2016, July 8). It’s never been as easy to be an intellectual. Retrieved from http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2016/07/its-never-been-as-easy-to-be-an-intellectual.html

Harapnuik, D. K. (2015, January 9). The head won’t go where the heart hasn’t been. Retrieved from http://www.harapnuik.org/?p=5461

Change before you have to
One of the key ideas we deal with in the Masters of Digital Learning and Leading program at Lamar University is change and how to use technology as a catalyst to bring about change in the learning environment. Reluctance to change is one of the most difficult challenges that most of us who promote the use of educational technology have to wrestle with. Ideally we would all like to work with only highly motivated colleagues and students but this is not the world we live in.

In response to a student request to share links to useful articles dealing with reluctance to change I did a quick search on my blog to find a couple really good articles or posts to share and I was surprised to notice that I have over 226 posts that are tagged with the word ”change” and dozens more posts that simply include the word change. I have several hundred notes in Evernote about change, dozens of links to articles on change in my Zotero reference database and I and hundreds more links related to change, reform, and innovation related to technology in education in my Diigo bookmarking tool. Can’t forget to mention the dozens of books about change I have in my hardcopy and digital libraries. This includes at least 6 books by John Kotter the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus, at Harvard Business School, who is widely regarded as the world’s foremost authority on leadership and change.

Out of all this how to do I find the just a couple of articles, posts or links that will be most useful. I started to review some my favourite academic articles and posts and after a few hours I was reminded by my wife’s caution

when people ask you for a recommendation they aren’t asking for a literature review and they more than likely don’t want to read all the books and articles that you have read…they are just looking for an answer to a problem.

So what is the problem that my student wants to address?

How do you deal with people who are reluctant to change?

The posts listed below are what I like to refer to as intellectual mash-ups because I take an assortment of ideas and combine them together to address the problem. Each post has many embedded links to the original sources so I am confident that the perspectives presented are supported by sound original insights.

The Head Won’t Go Where the Heart Hasn’t Been
This post points to the fact that while we like to believe that we make decisions based on rational thought the reality is that we are much more emotionally driven and as the title suggest that head won’t go where the heart hasn’t been.

People who like this stuff…like this stuff
In this post I point out the key factors for why people often reluctant to change and outline my 4 step process for organizational change which has become the foundation for the graduate course Leading Organizational Change I teach at Lamar University

The following three posts are also compilations of ideas that deal with the mindset one requires to embrace change. In addition, I address the fact that we often need to model or embrace change by living it.

Sense of Urgency: Create It Now or React to It Later

Pick Two – Innovation, Change or Stability

Practice Change by Living It

It is most important to remember that while change often is a constant part of 21st century living we don’t have to fear it or just react to it and let it adversely impact our lives. If we are proactive we can embrace change and use it as an opportunity for growth and development.

A colleague recently sent out a link to a short blog post in which Scott Mcleod, a highly regarded thought leader in Educational Technology pointed to the following challenge:

It is time for instructors to move from simple questions like, “Do you use technology in the classroom?” to the more complex, “For what purpose, and with what learning theories, should I engage digitally-enhanced pedagogies?…”

This quote is part of the conclusion of Adam Copeland’s article Teaching Digital Wisdom in Hybrid Pedagogy which I have been pondering over the past weekend. Copeland argues that we need to move away from the unnecessary debate of for or against technology in the classroom and onto the more important questions of how we can use technology to enhance learning. He offers the following four digital practices as pillars or a starting point:

  • forming collaborative relationships with peers,
  • preparing for citizenship,
  • encountering difference and disagreement, and
  • welcoming complexity.

Copeland’s article is very well written, cites some wonderful resources and challenges us to move away from easy answers that we fall into when we debate whether or not to use technology in our learning environments. But moving away from easy answers is a lot of work and even though Copeland offered a sound rational argument for doing so I didn’t find any inspiration or an emotional appeal in the article that motivated me to go out and start this hard work.

I have been striving to find ways to share my passion for using technology to enhance learning for the past couple of decades and have finally learned that while a rational argument is a necessary component for change it unfortunately is not enough. This type of change requires an appeal to the heart and I have learned through years of trial and error that the head won’t go where the heart hasn’t been (read my post for a full explanation). Even though Copeland’s article appealed to my head I had a nagging angst that while I could have my students read the article I doubted that many would find it moving enough to make a difference. If you really want to move people to action there has to be a heart felt reason why we need to move away from easy questions and answers.

Fortunately chance favors the connected mind (Steven Johnson’s label for digital serendipity) and I came across Nigel Coutts’ wonderful post Lessons from a Hole in the Bucket. Coutts uses the song ‘There’s a Hole in the Bucket’ sung by Harry Belafonte & Odetta to share the story of Liza and Henry as they deal with a bucket with a hole in it. Coutts characterizes Liza as a teacher and Henry as the student and offers the following summary of Henry’s learning experience:

Rapidly a pattern of interactions emerges and this reveals much about Henry’s disposition towards learning. Time and time again Henry confronts a challenge, the initial discovery of the hole, the straw that is too long, the knife that is blunt, the sharpening stone that is dry and at each turn his response is a cry for help. ‘But Liza, there’s a hole in the bucket’. At each challenge Liza responds to Henry in the same manner providing him with a prompt that guides him directly to the solution. ‘Then fix it Dear Henry’, ‘Then sharpen it Dear Henry’.

Coutts suggests that Henry has developed no critical thinking skills because Liza provides Henry a quick answer rather than prompting Henry to solve his own problem. He goes on to argue that this is a classic example of learned helplessness and he offers a contrasting story of how another student with a well-developed disposition towards learning and a broader set of thinking skills positively deals with a hole in the bucket.

While the song and Coutts’ explanation begin to move us emotionally his conclusion is where he hits us hard with the challenging question:

Are we going to prepare a class full of Henrys?

Coutts conclusion is a series of questions where he challenges all teachers to do a better job and provide a better start than Henry was provided. No one wants to be responsible for a single Henry nor a class full of Henrys.

It is this emotional appeal combined with the rational pillars that Copeland has outlined that can make a difference. If we really want to be successful in leading this type of change we need to heed the advice of Harvard change guru John Kotter and “Win over the hearts and Minds”.

In his daily blog post The difference between commitment and technique Seth Godin makes the argument that we (society) would be a lot more successful if schools created an environment where teachers used commitment as a foundational part of the learning environment. Students with access to resources are almost unstoppable if they are committed to learning.

Instead we have created an environment where learners can say:

“teach me, while I stand here on one foot, teach me while I gossip with my friends via text, teach me while I wander off to other things. And, sure, if the teaching sticks, then I’ll commit.”

This is another example of the principle of “The head won’t go where the heart hasn’t been.” Genuine commitment must involve the affective domain and until we are willing to engage emotionally our heads will not follow.

I agree with Godin that “great teachers teach commitment.” I would add that great teachers use passion to teach commitment.