Home > 21st Century Learning, Democracy & Public Education, Inquiry Learning, Teamwork, Uncategorized > Comfort the Afflicted/Afflict the Comfortable

Comfort the Afflicted/Afflict the Comfortable

Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.

-Robert Frost~

Connecting offers wonderful, mysterious and unanticipated benefits and our experiences on the Saturday of ConnectEd Canada have once again confirmed this hypothesis.

This morning I had the pleasure of facilitating a conversation with around 30 interesting folks from across Canada in the first block of sessions. The topic focus was on networked learning and the challenges and delights of the work educators are doing to shift our culture from a structure of heierarchy towards one where our public schools enable more open, inclusive, innovative and inquiry-based learning for adults and children. I won’t go into specifics, if you wish to probe my thoughts and reflections on this topic; they are archived in this blog.

Over the course of our session, we shared the raw and heart-felt experiences of the struggles we have experienced as leaders, or initiators, of this vital shift. I was reminded of a comment Mary Jane Gallagher, Ontario’s Assistant Deputy Minister of Education made at the ABEL Leadership Summit in February. In supporting us to keep pushing forward, Mary Jean encouraged those of us in leadership roles to “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

This sentiment rolls of the tongue easily, but this is not so easy to do~day in and day out in schools. This is why using social media to build a PLN and join events like #connectEdca are so vital. We’ve shared some wonderful ideas here, we have supported and felt both support and comfort. We have taken a break from the isolation that many feel as we challenge the status quo and work to re-vision public education.

But, it is clear to me that we cannot sustain a great system of public education by rewarding those in our schools and systems who do not innovate at the cost of those who do.

As my colleague @thecleversheep reminds us, we are fireflies in a jar who have happily gathered for a few days to share some warmth and light.  The networks we have created through our tweets and blogs not only sustain us in these efforts, they help us deepen and extend the work that we need to do to move forward.

This is my reflection from the second day of ConnectED Canada.

  1. thecleversheep
    May 27, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Brian, You’ve eloquently captured the feelings many outliers have to deal with. It’s much more difficult, and much less rewarding to be an agent of change at the local level, than it should be. Thank goodness for weekends like this one that allow the fireflies to recharge those batteries. Glow onwards!

    • May 29, 2012 at 10:49 am

      The old saying ‘if it was easy, everyone would do it’ springs to mind. Fortunately, we are in the early stages of using the tools that often lead to the isolation we feel in our schools to overcome it by connecting with those beyond our schools~ironic indeed.

  2. May 27, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Absolutely, Brian, if we believe innovation is key, we need to connect via realms of interaction we do not normally seek. As we start on this journey of connectedness, we discover new pathways and find unexpected partnerships we could not have possibly predicted, wonderful agents of change eager to keep the sparks of energy going. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about #connectedca. Wish I could have been there in person.

  3. May 29, 2012 at 10:52 am

    It was nice to know that you were able to keep connected via the tweets and blogs. As great as it would have been great to have had you join us, I’d would have been worried that; with you that close to the Rockies, we might not have been able to get you back to Ontario:)

  1. May 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm
  2. May 30, 2012 at 11:56 pm
  3. June 8, 2012 at 3:37 am

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