Refocusing on what matters

There was a point this summer not long after NECC that I started wondering if I was doing the right thing.

Are we barking up the wrong tree?

It hit me as I sat in the car one day looking at a bunch of people waiting at a bus stop. As I sat at the red light I starting thinking about these complete strangers and whether they really know what’s going on out there.

Do they know about blogs?
Do they know about wikis, the wikipedia?
How about podcasts and the fact that with an Apple TV podcasters are as close as ever of being on par with regular television?

and then I asked myself:

Does it even matter?

Do you know how scary it is to truly question everything that you have been preaching to teachers for the past 3 years. To truly look at it and wonder if it was all wrong, if maybe you had it wrong, maybe this isn’t it.

It’s scary really and the more I thought about those people just going about their day and wondering if any of this would or is truly affecting them the more I became depressed. The more I questioned if what I’m pushing in Education is the right thing.

I was pondering this for a couple days when I sat down with a good friend and we started talking. He reads my blog and even though he’s not an educator he kind of sort of gets what I’m talking about most of the time. We started chatting and I told him I didn’t know if I was barking up the right tree anymore…that maybe I have it all wrong. I told him about seeing the people on the street and wondering if any of this ‘stuff’ matters.

He said nothing while I talked and then when I had finished he said:

“But, it’s not about them right? It’s about the kids, about the next generation.”

And there is was…..the part I had forgotten. I had been looking at the wrong people. I had been looking at my generation and the generations older than me where none of this stuff even existed.

Think about it…really the Internet has only been around since about 1996…that’s all! Think of what it has done, the impact it has had on the world. When you think that it’s really only been since about 2000 since the Internet matured to a point that it affected our world in profound ways and what it has done so far…that becomes even scarier.

We are only at the beginning of a huge freakin’ shift. A shift that most of the later generations don’t see or don’t want to see. It’s a shift that includes living in a flat world, where work can be done will be done where it best fits the needs of the organization.

One example of this is our school here in Shanghai. We’re adding 300 more students! Now if you think that’s a lot think about this…we’ve been adding 300 students a year for the past 5 years! This school’s population has grown from 850 students to almost 3000 students since the Internet has been invented….and if it wanted to it could continue to grow.

Who are the students? Families from around the world who’s work brings them to Shanghai. Why? Because this is the best place for their company to do business at this point in time. Will this always be the place?….I don’t think so, but for now this is where companies are coming.

We talk about the flat world, about how the playing field is being leveled…but the students and families at my school are that flat world. They are here because the world has gone flat and their companies need them here.

How many students today realize the chance of them living and working in the same town they grew up in, or the same country for that matter is highly unlikely. That in today’s world you can…and most likely will live and work where your company needs you, and just because your company is based in America…doesn’t mean you’ll work in America.

So I’m refocusing…remembering that it’s our students. The same ones who bring cell phones to school, work on their facebook pages when they should be researching, IMing when they should be studying, and creating YouTube videos when they should be sleeping, that we need to be teaching.

That’s the reason why all this ‘stuff’ matters. It’s not about us…’s about them…their world…their future…and it’s exciting!


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