There’s always that time when you are singing along with a song and you realise, halfway through the eye clenching, arm extending bit, that you have no idea what the lyrics are. What comes out your mouth is comical at best, and frankly disturbing at worst.
I recently had a conversation with someone I greatly respect, someone who has encouraged me to push myself in my career, someone who has been a critical friend. On the eve of starting a new job, I was warned not to scare people.
Most people who have seen my face can attest that it can be scary, especially first thing in the morning, but my friend was warning me that not everyone necessarily thinks the same way as I do about education. If I went full ‘Marcus Mode’ from the beginning, instead of inspiring a throng of revolutionary educational change agents, I would probably scare people into their offices and they’d lock their doors.
Very sage advice.
Going about change, and leading that change, is a difficult skill to balance. There are a multitude of ways to tackle it, and a multitude of advice books that suggest their own methods. It could range from Braveheart-style speeches on mountain tops, to more underhanded suggestion and 1984’s Newspeak. A mixture of methods from the continuum would be most effective.
Anyway, the conversation got me thinking. I have been mulling over my vision of education for a long time now but I’ve never really been able to get it down on paper though. However, as I read many others’ thoughts and ideas, I see my own ideas mirrored; little snippets appear that were hidden to me previously. Echoes of the politics of Friere and Illich, the power dynamics of Hase and Ackoff, the cognitive processes of Claxton, the ‘what is a teacher’ of Atherton, to my contemporary heroes: Adams, Bryant, Clay, Cormier, Jarche, Lanclos, Middleton, Phipps, Pinny, Stewart, Stommel, Watters, White, and many, many others.
The difference? They’re able to eloquently get their ideas down into words, to condense complex ideas and systems into cogent and pithy prose.
I feel the meaning behind it; their writing touches on what is going on in my head. It’s just they have effectively crafted the words in to familiar shapes. That familiarity makes me feel connected to others who think similarly. It is a reassuring feeling that “I’m not the only one”.
So, as I embark on a journey to lead change, I can feel confident in my ideas and the process I undertake, but I probably need to make sure I’ve learned all the lyrics.
So if you see someone mumbling their way through the song, it’s probably me.