Mentors Can’t Get The Job Done

Champions Can Save the Day!

I was talking with Shawna Butler about how to bring more young women into our entrepreneurship program here at Illinois State University. As a little background, I have talked to roughly 300 female entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders and small business owners since Christmas about this issue.  On almost every phone call with every one of those women, they have pointed out the importance of including a strong mentor program into our program.

Shawna shocked me, which is not easily done. She said “we don’t need mentoring, we need championing.” As she explained, a mentor, for the most part, will usually tell or help a mentee figure out how to do something. A task. A learning goal. There’s a whole lot of supportive and exploratory talking. It is a valuable relationship, no doubt about it. But Shawna had a great perspective I never thought about to be honest. Blew my mind!

Instead of introducing a mentor program, she suggested introducing a Champion Program. A champion will help someone he/she is working with in the task/goal arena just as a mentor. But wait, there’s more! A champion will also put his/her name and reputation on the line for another person. They will advocate for that person. They will champion that person’s future (in the case of college students).

Mentors Talk the Talk, Champions Walk the Walk

As a young college student, I had some idea where I was going. I had mentors helping me figure out my goals. They helped me learn certain tasks that are very valuable to this day. Only one of them stuck their neck out for me, and put their reputation on the line for me. She was my champion, and it made all the difference in the world. Shawna, you’re a genius! Thank you for opening my eyes.

PS – If you are a mentor, should you be a champion instead?

PPS – Do you need a champion?


The purpose of education is . . .

I just finished a TEDx talk at Heartland Community College about my visions for the future of education. It was a high point of my life; watching TED talks have provided me so much inspiration and to have that opportunity was incredible!  I spoke to the audience about how to change the education system so that a college experience can realize it’s intended promise to prepare students for the real world. I spoke about the generic purpose of education being to prepare young people to be responsible and productive citizens and lifelong learners. Specifically, I think the purpose of education is to help students find answers to their meaningful questions.

Thoughts on Education

I asked the attendees to answer the question “What is the purpose of education?” on a paper airplane, and at one point in the talk to send me their airplanes. Here are their answers:

Turn dreams into reality.

Foster the art of asking questions.

To inspire students to learn from on their own, and to prepare them for the world (Sam Ferrante)

To teach you how to think.

To inspire and evolve how we think.

To expand minds.

To get a bette ridea (Carol Hahn)

I have no idea about the education thing. . . I just want to be cool enough to live in a red house. . . and I will have a red plan also (sidenote – my wife and I live in a red house, which is very rare in our town where all the houses are beige)

To question. To be aware. To be courageous (Carol Hahn)

To open minds, inspire creativity, and to teach us how to live in the world (Jean)

To help them discover their true potential (Alejandro Montesdeoca)

To expose people to skills and knowledge that will allow them to lead happy and productive lives (Jon Shackley)

To discover and pursue interesting questions

Improving people’s lives (George Mueller)

To teach people of all ages relevant skills and provide them with relevant knowledge. Education can be delivered via many modes! FOR FUN . . . education should not be confused with training. You wouldn’t want your kids to take a sex training class, would you? (Doug Minter)

For individuals to better themselves and build a future/career. Expand on their knowledge and better themselves as a whole (Arianna Shipley)

To educate (Antonio Montes de Oca)

Knowledge is power (Antonio Montes de Oca)

Education is a forum for new ideas seen through the lens of the ideas of others

To teach people to think

To challenge yourself and become a better asset in the world (Kali Lewis)

Give the ability to explore (Ravi K.)

People say education prepares you for the real world, when in fact education is the real world. While being educated, kids are and should be allowed to truly think and create (Kayley K.)

“So that employees can follow written instructions” So sorry for being jaded (Marcus)

To get smarter (Julie Shackley)

An opportunity to gain knowledge, build self-confidence, know who we are and increase awareness of our surroundings and our world (Linda Walter)

To advance one’s self to the benefit of one’s self and community

To provide students with the tools and creativity to go beyond their own expectations (Cecilia)

Foster all ideas in a non-judgmental setting

To bankrupt parents!

Education is to help us discover the purpose of life

To prepare a student to be successful in their future (Brent R.)

To learn to love learning (V. Sittig)

To teach how to think, question, and create (Robyn Walter)

What do you think is the purpose of education?

Questions, Not Answers: A Re-Framing of Education

As I prepare for my first TEDx talk in a few weeks, in which I’ll talk about creative disruption in education, I find myself thinking about re-framing education. I reflect on my experiences in my educational journey – what impacted me and what didn’t – and on the broader purpose of education. Now the education system is built around answers. But that can’t continue.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Questions and Power

 Why do teachers control the knowledge?

Why can students only “receive” an education inside a building?

Why are students only allowed to answer and not question?

Questions are powerful. In education, questions threaten the status quo. In a classroom, they challenge the information being shared by the “expert”. Some teachers even see questions as threatening. That is a good thing as far as I’m concerned; let the students threaten so they gain confidence and ownership over their educational experience. The classroom structure is backwards. Typically speaking, the teacher provides information on the topic of the day. The teacher is giving students answers to questions they haven’t asked. Questions they often don’t care about, to be honest. A simple tweak can make all the difference int he classroom:

Instead of teachers presenting information 1st and then inviting questions from students 2nd, try inviting questions about a topic 1st and present relevant information 2nd. Or even better – don’t provide any information, but guide them in finding their own answers.

Questions are power. In our current system, the teachers have all the power because they control (if not kill) the questioning. It’s time for a new dynamic.

Teachers – let your students ask questions, and don’t be afraid to said “I don’t know”

Students – take charge and ask your questions. Don’t lose the opportunity.

How Did We Get Here? A Moment to Reflect

Reflecting takes guts. I mean real reflecting. Not just the “that was a (fill-in-the-blank) experience” kind of reflection – anybody can do that cheap seat reflecting. I mean the authentic, deep, squishy, tingly reflecting. When we reflect, we need to do serious work, to learn from experience. If we succeeded, let’s learn so we can repeat it. If we failed, let’s learn so we don’t repeat it.

What To Reflect On

The act of truly, deeply reflecting isn’t easy. By “reflect” I mean to think deeply about something from the past. And through these reflections, we get a better understanding of how we made it to where we are in the present moment. That is a powerful, VERY powerful, gift we can give ourselves. One of the hard parts of reflecting is to know what to focus on. We all make mistakes. Lots of them! You know you do – own it, be cool with it, share it, learn from it. When reflecting, the most powerful lessons can be gleaned from the most uncomfortable and awkward experiences. Go to the dark corners of memories and experiences that scare you. Find where you took risks and failed, or where you succeeded but the goal was disingenuous. That’s where the gems are – go searching for them, and bring them into the light.

On the fun side, it is also powerful to reflect on the questions we ask. The learning that paves our life path comes from the questions we ask. Therefore, reflecting on that life path requires us to reflect on those questions. Think about why you asked those particular questions. What was so important about that question at that time?

My Reflections

I am not good at reflecting. I do not spend much time or energy looking back, but instead choose consciously to look forward. I often tell myself that’s because looking forward is more intriguing. But honestly, I think it’s because my past frightens me. Some of the choices I made, and the resulting consequences, are scary. Reflecting on those is quite emotional, and I don’t like emotions, I don’t like feeling them, talking about them, or confronting them. But I know I need to get more comfortable with this.

Because I don’t like the icky side of reflecting, I start with the questions. I ask a lot of questions (at least the voices in my head have lots of question-based conversations). When I was younger my questions had to do with hustling. I wanted to know how to get more drugs, quicker and cheaper. I wanted to know who could help me with this singular purpose. My questions were very shallowly focused on this pursuit. As I got older, my questions switched focus from destructive to more constructive, from self-focused to other-focused.

As I emerged from my drug fog, I began to ask questions about how to help others, about how to balance the karmic scales that I put well out of balance. I asked about my career path and other self-focused pursuits, but they were productive pursuits, not destructive. Once my wife helped me find my career path and pushed me down it, my questions focused on disrupting education. How can I enrich the classroom experience of students? How can I expose youth to entrepreneurial thinking? How can I destroy NCLB and Common Core and other destructive efforts? Why do we not let students have a voice in education? The questions are endless (it’s really a hassle sometimes!) I work every day to collaborate with others who can help answer these questions. It’s a grand existence!

But that existence is tempered during those few times when I reflect on the dark corners of my past. To be honest, it’s not often I go there. I don’t like to; I am scared, but I also do not see much point in that. I stole from many people, I cheated people, I lied to people, I manipulated and conned people. I was selfishness and greed defined. I sold drugs to many people – from very young children to very old adults, from people who had never used to people who desperately needed to stop using. I didn’t care who I sold to, as long as they had money. Period. Some of those faces I can still remember. That’s scary. But what happens when I reflect on these times in my life is that I become more passionate and energized about my current state and my current path in life. I do not do what I do because of my past, but my past does help fuel my desire to make a positive dent in the universe. I can make that dent through infusing entrepreneurship into education, at every single level. My reflections remind me of why I do what I do. They scare me into staying on this path. They are good and bad, they are light and dark.

My question to you: What do you reflect on? How does reflecting benefit you?

I Got Fired – Is That Bad?

The last time I got fired, I was 16 years old and I made a very conscious choice to party with my friends instead of show up to work. That was nearly 24 years ago. I got fired a few days ago. Not from my “food-on-the-table” job, but from a consulting sort of gig.

Getting Fired Sucks

It all boils down to fit. I did not fit with the direction the project was heading. I am always the first one to step out of the way if I’m going to impede progress of a good initiative – and this was a very good initiative. Fired due to lack of fit. Could be worse.

I will be the first to admit that I have a healthy ego and am pretty narcissistic. My wife will confirm this! Being fired does not suit my ego or narcissism very well, in fact it bruises it to some extent. That may not be a bad thing, but it certainly does not feel good. After the sting wore off, I began to think more deeply about being fired, what that means, and the opportunity that presents.

Getting Fired Isn’t So Bad

There are a number of reasons I came up with that getting fired isn’t so bad. Now, being a recovering addict, I realize this may be similar to making up excuses why today is a bad day to quit. However, here I go:

1. I have more time on my hands.

2. I have more intellectual bandwidth available for projects for which I am a good fit.

3. I reflect on my approach, my conversations, my interactions with people.

4. I have to review and update my CV (resume), my social media profiles.

5. I have to be humble with family, friends, colleagues. The family part stings pretty bad for one reason, and the colleagues part stings in an entirely different way. But equally as painful.

I have to reflect, I learn a little humility, I have more time and energy. None of those are a bad thing. Admittedly again, this is not my bread-and-butter job – that would be a different story. But any experience that requires us to reflect, to be humble, to take stock can’t be all that bad, can it?

Would You Fire Yourself?

This led me to look at other side gigs in my life right now. None of them are necessary; I took all of them on for one reason or another, but all I consider voluntary at this point. I asked myself if I would fire myself from any of them. This is a very tough inner journey that incorporates issues of self-worth, satisfaction, greed, narcissism, love, passion, and all things beautiful and ugly. I decided I would not fire myself from anything at this point.

One an intellectual level, I am not glad I was fired. I really enjoyed the possibility that project held to engage with a great audience and to accomplish something fantastic. On a more personal level, I can say I am somewhat glad I was fired – only because of the opportunity it presented me. I failed. In this particular project endeavor, I failed miserably. I put my everything into it, and I got fired. That failure presented a fantastic opportunity for me to pause, reflect, and learn. I am better for it (at least I will be next time around!)

My question to you: what would you fire yourself from?

And the Purpose is . . .?

My purpose here at Illinois State University is to spread entrepreneurship across campus. I’ve struggled to engage young women students and women business leaders in the community in the classes and programs. The more I talked to colleagues and looked into research regarding entrepreneurship, startups, and innovation, the more glaring became the gender gap. This always bothered me, but around the holidays, I decided to do something about it.

Purpose is Central

Since the holidays, I’ve been a networking tornado – blasting through LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and any other outlets possible to connect with women who have experience with entrepreneurship and innovation and wouldn’t be shy about sharing their honest feedback. It has been extremely easy to get hundreds of women to spend 20 or 30 minutes chatting with me. My secret? I let them know I want to empower young women through education, and that since I’m a dude I am clueless about how to do that effectively, so I need their guidance. That vulnerability and humility and transparently sharing my purpose seals the deal. These women have all sorts of perspectives, from different industries, roles, generations, geographies, and any number of other differentiating factors. A few things are common to most of the feedback I have received.

The one thing every single woman has urged me to do is to focus on purpose

They urge me to get young women to think about their purpose (generally and specifically to any number of slices of life’s pie)

They urge me to encourage young women to own that purpose, and to share that purpose with anyone and everyone.

They urge me to facilitate young women connecting with others around their purpose.

Purpose has been on my mind lately, and I couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities that presents me.

The Purpose of Education

Education needs a purpose. Administrators could be so much more effective if they focused on purpose first and outcomes second (and less on quantitative results and more on qualitative results). We as educators need to re-examine our purpose.

Why are we in this career? Research? Teaching? Service? A paycheck? Seriously think about it. I’m here to impact young people and help them uncover and get started down their desired career path.

Students could improve their experience if they explored their purpose for continuing their education. They choose to be in college, they choose which college. They make daily choices to engage with their educational experience. To what purpose? Owning that purpose would create much more impactful moments. I’ll bet that would leak into the educators’ experience and the administrators’ experience, and would begin to infect these stakeholders’ purpose.

What About You?

What’s your purpose? Think about it. I mean really think about it. Think beyond specific roles in your life (as a parent, spouse, employee, boss, leader, whatever). Think holistically. Why are you here? What, really, is your existence about? Think beyond the “what do you want you epitaph to be” sort of exercises. Dig deep. Get uncomfortable with yourself; be vulnerable. Own your purpose, whatever it is. Then live it. The world will be better for it. Your world will be brighter for it. The impact will be awesome!

I’d love to hear what your purpose is, and to help you accomplish your purpose. Share by commenting here, or by emailing me at

Experience Can Save Education

Experiences have been in the forefront of my mind lately. I am working to roll out the Startup Showcase student startup event at Illinois State University. I just attended and participated in the #BOOM event in Columbia, Missouri that binds education and economic development through entrepreneurship.

entrepreneurship experienceI have been helping ISU alum Obi Agbo plan the Ignition Weekend student startup immersion event at Illinois State University. These experiences make sense in the entrepreneur role in my life; entrepreneurship only happens by doing. After a father-son weekend with my son, I was reminded that education needs to be about experiences as well.

The only thing I remember from my early schooling is field trips. I don’t remember the classrooms, the playgrounds, the teachers, the material. I don’t remember anything about the school. But I can remember some of the sights, sounds, smells, and knowledge from field trips. I remember the experiences.

We celebrate the experiences. Milestones such as weddings, births, deaths. We share experiences. Concerts, sporting events, roadtrips, hobbies. We remember experiences; I’d wager that anytime you start the sentence “Do you remember . . .?” it has to do with an experience.

Where Are the Experiences?

My son is in 2nd grade, and he has yet to take a field trip. At the beginning of the year, I offered his teacher to coordinate and pay for a field trip anywhere, anytime for his entire class. That offer happened in early September. It’s now late February and nothing on the books!  I thought perhaps I wasn’t getting anywhere due to perceptions of favoritism if one class got a field trip and others didn’t. So I offered the principal of his school to coordinate and pay for a field trip for the entire 2nd grade. I was told they couldn’t do that because it would cut into too much of the reading and writing time in the Common Core curriculum. Seriously? Seriously?!? 

After cooling off, I returned to offer to bring an experience to the students. I offered to bring an experience to my son’s class, then to the entire 2nd grade, then to the entire school. No, no, no. I don’t understand how these “educators” don’t understand the power of experience and want to bring that power to the children they’re charged with educating. I don’t understand how they don’t remember the sheer joy and wonder of a field trip. Shame on them if they do understand the power and remember the joy and actively decide to not offer their students the same power and joy.

The Experience That Is Left

So I am left to create experiences for my son. I’m happy to do it (although I’m not nearly as diligent or imaginative as I should be – I readily acknowledge my hypocrisy here!) But I growl internally because I shouldn’t have to make up for lost time – he should be having experiences during his school day. The saddest part of this is that he cannot share any experiences with his friends. He cannot digest any experiences with the classmates he’s learning with. He cannot see school as a source of the wonder and joy experiences hold. I am saddened, for my son, for all children who can’t experience learning beyond the walls of schools, and for a system that has turned its back on the power and wonder of experience.


The Unimaginable is Not Only Possible but Likely

This is a guest post by Gary R. Tipsord, Superintendent of Schools, LeRoy IL

Almost 60 years ago, the Russians put Sputnik into space and instantly the United States had a perceived crisis in Education. From that moment to present day, our government and the reformers have been trying to “fix” our nation’s schools.

Fast forward through numerous reforms to NCLB in 2001. This was a bipartisan piece of legislation designed to make schools more accountable for positive student outcomes. These outcomes were to be measured by multiple-­choice tests with results posted for all to see and potentially tied to school funding. While the premise of legislation was promising, the actual metrics of the administration of the assessments led some schools to be designated National Blue Ribbons Schools one year and then not meeting AYP (annual yearly progress) the following year.

It has always been clear that the measures of NCLB would ultimately be unattainable.  It would be wonderful if we could legislate away cavities in the teeth of our children, but a variety of factors beyond the control of the dentist probably make that impossible. Likewise it is impossible to say that all students will achieve to a standard unless that standard is set low enough to in essence make it meaningless.

It seems that every reform begins with the presumption that our system is inadequate or failing in some form or another. So, why not ask those who have identified the gaps to express their desired state for education? Why not embrace the conversation about education coming from the corporate world? Why not listen to the manufacturers and the construction trades? Why not engage with higher education for a conversation beyond ACT scores?

The change in perspective for our district’s thinking came from authors Sir Ken Robinson and Tony Wagner. Robinson challenged our current state of thinking about creativity and the ways that public education can either stimulate or suppress those skills and Wagner challenged our thoughts on essential skills, not just the knowledge that students need to be successful after they leave our doors.

We are charged with preparing our students for a world of unknowns that we cannot imagine. This is unknown territory and the fact that knowledge and technology are increasing at an exponential rate, we cannot possibly assess students abilities to cope with changes five, ten, especially fifty years from now with multiple choice, essay, or Scantron evaluations.  With the current economic realities, it must be acknowledged that the students of today will likely be working and required to learn new skills even decades after graduation.  This is unchartered territory for society and yet schools are charged with the initial preparation for this ability to cope with change.  So, how can K-12 education possibly remain stuck in a 1950’s model of teaching and learning.

We began to look for partnerships everywhere we could, with an emphasis on information and ideas rather than money and things. We wanted to hear the desired state for our students from those who would employ our students. We wanted to know what they needed our students to know and be able to do. This journey has involved conversations that ranged from Google and State Farm to our local flower shop and city hall.

These conversations have led us to make three very intentional leaps:

1.) Listen and engage with everyone we can about what they desire from education,

2.) Engage specifically with our students about their desires,

3.) Consider nothing as impossible if we believe it better for the future of our students.

We are endeavoring to create an environment that endorses risk and celebrates failure as a critical learning opportunity. One that capitalizes on the passions and talents of our students and our staff, and one that gives our students the opportunity to experience the real world application of their learning. While Sputnik may have led to a manufactured crisis and NCLB an ill-­fated effort to solve a perceived problem, to ignore the flattening of the world economy and to resist the evolution of a 1950’s model of education, the failure to innovate in education may lead to the first real crisis in education. We desire to selectively forget the past, in order tobetter define the future.  We choose this statement intentionally, “We are at a place in time where the unimaginable is not only possible but likely.”

So what is different, maybe nothing, maybe everything, in time we will know the true fruits of our labor?

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The Power of Voice

The Voices I Hear


When my son was born, before excitement overwhelmed me, I was anxious.  Until I heard his cry, I could not enjoy the moment; the voice indicated all was well.  I remember that voice distinctly to this day eight years later.

My sister died of cancer 16 years ago.  I often use pictures to remember details of her physical appearance.  She called me to say goodbye the day before she died.  I remember that voice so clearly so many years later – it haunts me.

Whether they are the voices of those who are no longer with us, voices of those still with us, voices of celebrities we easily identify, or voices of musicians that are so crucial in developing our stories, voice has immense power.  That is a power that can change the course of people, events, systems, societies, history.

Voice Can Change Education

The voices driving education have traditionally been the policy makers.  These voices probably can’t remember what it is like to be in elementary or middle school.  They don’t generally understand the power of education to transform one’s experience and life; they for the most part grew up enabled and expecting a full education experience.  What is missing is the student voice.  The reason the system exists, the souls the system should empower and enable. Students have loud voices – at young ages they are brilliantly creative and honest voices.

Child VoiceTender and terrible all at once! As they age, these voices evolve into exploratory and challenging adolescence chaos.  And eventually these voices turn their attention to critical questions and reflective insight.  We need policy makers’ voices in the conversation, as well as administrator, teacher and parent voices.  But we cannot silence the student voices.  We need to engage the 7 and 8 year olds who are trying to decide if they like mathematics, science, art, cursive writing.  No matter what age or grade level, the students are capable of great contribution to reshaping education.  Their voice is powerful.  Ask any parent!

Voice Can Change Entrepreneurship

Is the customer always right?  Absolutely not – nobody is always right.  However, businesses should always listen to the customer.  The customer voice shapes businesses. Especially startups – it is the customer’s voice that leads successful startups to sustainable business models.

Customer VoiceFounders who can draw out and really listen to customers speaking about the product, the service, the experience, the pain can gain a competitive advantage over competing firms.

How Do We Hear The Voices

Voices are power.  Listen to any great orator, whether it is the beauty of Dr. King or the ugliness of Adolf Hitler, and you can feel the power, you live the experience.  Students voices can be the power of a new frontier of education.  Customer voices have become the power of a new frontier of entrepreneurship.  How do we harness this power?

1. Ask the right questions.  We need to ask students to describe their experiences – what they do during reading time, how they feel as they’re studying geometry.  We need to ask customers to describe their experiences with the problem we’re trying to solve.  We need to figure out what they are doing, what they are thinking. For students and customers, we shouldn’t care what their proposed solution is.  We want to understand their experience, which can only truly be understood through their voice.

2. Give ‘em the mic. Find the students and customers with authentic, powerful experiences.  Don’t waste time with the vanilla ones.  Track down the crazies, search for the magic.  Talk to students until one makes you cry, or gives you goosebumps.  Give those students the platform – record their story, share their story.  Talk to customers until you feel that adrenaline rush.  Turn them into your earlyvangelists – give them every opportunity to use their voice on your behalf.

3. Shout with them. Experiences are more powerful with multiple voices.  Create new experiences with the earlyvangelists and the student storytellers. Let them lead, but empower and enable them by adding your voice to the conversation. Bring in more experienced disruptors; create a choir of glorious disruption! Use every medium possible – shout with hashtags on Twitter, with video on YouTube or Vine, with intellect in news columns and television interviews.

4. Listen up. When the chance presents itself to talk to students about their educational experience, we really should listen to them.  When we find customers who feel the pain we’re trying to solve, we have to listen to them.  It is really hard for most folks to listen instead of to drive the conversation according to some ridiculous script.

Voices change history. Voices change experiences. Voices evoke emotion. Voices create meaning. Listen to the voices that matter.

Learning Is . . . #!%$#$!

I’m Learning, They’re Learning, We’re All Learning Together

I spend a ton of time learning with students. Let me make sure you heard me: I spend a ton of time learning with students. I’m not paying lip service here, I learn so much every semester as a new batch of my students create their own learning experiences. I talk to them at length to unearth their feelings about previous time in the education system.

Learning Has Not Been Positive

The kinds of words I hear as my students describe their previous experiences in education:

Learning Sucks

pointless, boring, sucks, dry, OK (with a shoulder shrug), typical, awful, irritating, flat, hollow, unproductive, false, f**ked up, annoying, a waste, nonsense


The kinds of words I don’t, but long to, hear:

Loving Learning

fun, invigorating, challenging, awesome, killer, fantastic, orgasmic (OK, maybe that’s a little bit of a stretch but it would be cool!), addictive, brilliant, epic (I hate that word, but the kids sure do love it), useful

Peeling the Learning Layers Back

We need to change the vocabulary.  The best way to do that is to talk to students.  Don’t let a bunch of old folks continue to develop and deliver a model of education that was meant for a society over 100 years old.  We live in the 21st century and our education system needs to reflect that.  Do administrators really understand how students today learn?  I sure as hell don’t, and I spend my time with college and high school kids, and with an 8 year old at home.  Their brains develop in a different age than anything I could have comprehended as a kid.  It’s digital.  It’s flat.  It’s magical.  It’s overload. It’s plugged in. It’s opportunistic.

How absurd, ignorant, and egotistical of those of us who design learning experiences to think we know what that experience should be for a generation of kids that we never take time to understand? Giving the students a voice can’t make it any worse! It would by nature create more relevant content, more relevant tools, more relevant experiences.  And the vocabulary would change. Instead of “yeah but” we would hear more “yes, and”.  Instead of silence in classrooms, we would hear cacophony.  Instead of defending education and learning systems, we could all focus on building them.  Together.  With students.

I’m so tired of the negativity.  Of kids counting down to the last day of the school year.  Of teachers celebrating as much as students for snow days. I want the potential of impact that I see in the students and in the system to be blatantly obvious to everyone everywhere.  Wishful thinking, perhaps.  But I do know one way to start down that road is to let the young guns have more control and put the old thoroughbreds out to pasture.