Sunday, March 3, 2013

Risk is the Key to a Good Life

Every time I catch a video with International Space Station flight engineer Chris Hadfield I eagerly drop what I am doing and watch it. Hadfield is a powerful and captivating speaker who is a natural at explaining and articulating a huge variety of topics. Recently, I caught a video of Hadfield having a conversation with William Shatner about a variety of topics stemming from a Q&A session by Shatner. There is one particular question that when Shatner asks about Hadfield about the risks of a possible Mars mission; Hadfield casually responds, "you can't live a worthwhile life without risk."

In the classroom and in schools as a whole if there is not a safe and caring environment where teachers feel that they can take risks then there will be very little innovative thinking. Everyone must take risks at a school at one time or another for innovative thinking to occur at a school-wide level.
  • Students must understand that mistakes and even failures are not end products but a means to a more successful end; a stepping stone of learning
  • Teachers must feel the freedom and support of their administrators to try new teaching and learning strategies in an environment that fosters life-long learners
  • Administrators must feel empowered within their role and in their ability to be able to pilot new programs and test new technology within their schools without out the confines of rigid accountability
The key to all of these is a high level of support and trust at a school, because there is always a possibility that a program will fail, won't produce higher student achievement, won't promote character education in a school, or won't hit any other mark it was intended to. At this point you make or break a school environment; if the told-you-so statements start flying or anything similar - innovation will die a painful death. On the other hand, in schools where failure, mistakes, and a little bit of stumbling are seen as profession growth, learning opportunities, and stepping stones to future excellence you will see all stakeholders work harder, appreciate failure, and seek excellence in all aspects.

Here is a YouTube for Chris Hadfield which comes up with eating in space, clipping finger nails,  and tons of other great things you never thought of that were different in space - try and watch one without having to watch another from sheer curiosity.

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