Alan November, leader of November Learning, shared his passion for meaningful student learning experiences during Prairie Lakes AEA’s virtual Lunch and Learn. November, author of numerous books including Who Owns the Learning, discussed the importance of building a community by concentrating less on content and more on connection during the #first5days of school.
November shared insight and answered questions, but one response captured my heart. When explaining what school does, what school is, and what school should be, he added a necessary needed rule for the system: Do no harm. I have often thought our created solutions for problems have actually created more problems. I have often thought sometimes the best intention to help has actually hurt. The emotion that accompanies the command, “Do no harm” is thought-provoking, heart-wrenching, mind-blowing… To command is to acknowledge a system has the capacity to harm. Swallowing that sour truth is disheartening. Unfortunately, our experience and/or our witness has aided in the painful digestion. Perhaps our creativity was suppressed? Perhaps we were punished for thinking? Perhaps we were punished for questioning? Perhaps we were misunderstood? Perhaps we were forced to swim when all we wanted to do was fly?
In the TED talk “The Myth of Average,” Todd Rose addresses this harm, warns us of the impact of this harm while sharing his learning journey. Artist and Writer, Peter H. Reynolds often tells the story of his teacher who did not demand him to stop drawing…who did not see distraction or defiance but saw talent and passion. Reynolds recently created a video short, “The Testing Camera” that reveals the harm of “one-size fits all, standardized testing.”
Do no harm. Truly, the harm systems cause is not intentional. But lack of intention does not lessen the effect. This is definitely worth more conversation. It is definitely worth thinking about as a student, a parent, an educator, an administrator, a board member, a policy maker…And, of course, it is most definitely worthy of our collective effort.
To see stories of awesome and success, continue to follow this blog as we continue to highlight educators designing meaningful experiences, students producing and taking ownership of their learning…Examples shared during the chat thanks to @globalearner and @mcleod: Audri’s Rube Goldberg Monster Trap and Austin’s Butterfly