When I think of agility and adaptability, I can’t help but picture Sydney Crosby – Canadian thing I guess. I once read an article on how his trainers pushed his training regime. Most exercises that he is assigned, make him do a little off balance – standing on an exercise ball, or one foot. Once he gets to the point of mastery of that exercise, they mix it up immediately – always keeping him a touch off balance, out of his comfort zone. His body and mind are forced to adapt. This makes his body more aware of the need to accept change an grow stronger in all its’ muscle groups, not simply those used from predetermined static exercise. As you can imagine, this training pays off ten fold when he dons his skates and infamous #87 jersey. His body has become more agile due to this dynamic form of training.
I am certain that you see the correlation to education here. Like Sydney Crosby’s trainers ensure that his muscles can handle a variety of hits, movements and shifts in direction easily, so too should an educator train a student’s mind to accept thinking that is outside of their normal paradigm. When they are faced with problems, they have trained their brain to think in a variety of ways to adapt to the situation. Guess what, you don’t develop that type of thinking from sitting in a desk taking notes for 60 minutes.
One could argue that classrooms of the past did prepare their students minds to enter the real work force . . . if that workforce required assembly line structure or thinking that was production oriented. That isn’t the North American workforce any longer. Today’s workers require quick thinking and the ability to adapt to change. Change is coming at us at a very quick rate, quicker than ever before. For us to encourage and promote linear thinking and accepting dispositions is doing our students a huge disservice. Lets not encourage blind acceptance of authority – let’s promote, critical thinking in our kids.
So, what does that look like in a classroom? It sure doesn’t involve straight lecture, notes, and independent work marked in isolation. It involves big questions and messy answers that are open for retooling. It involves blowing up traditionally acceptable answers and looking at new solutions to older problems and then creating new problems. It involves pushing kids out of their comfort zone and right when they are getting comfortable, change the question. Get learners comfortable with ambiguity and change – it will serve them well. Let’s push our kids a little, not to break them but to challenge them and allow them to see their potential as problem solvers.
Take a look at this SLAM poem – speaks to really pushing our youth – make them the best that they can be.
Keep on learning.