Unearthing the Coronavirus TreasureOct 23, 2021
Broken. Incomplete. Discovered by chance during worldwide upheaval. Fought over. Studied by the world’s brightest minds. Transformational. Priceless.
What possible correlation exists between a soldier’s shovel scraping a stone chiseled with ancient languages and educators scrambling to continue teaching in a pandemic-weary & wary world?
A learning opportunity just as transformational to education as the Rosetta Stone was to understanding history.
Crises always involve digging. Not necessarily with shovels and picks in sand and dirt but with the same aim: remove rubble and unearth artifacts. As educators have scrambled to learn, create, and employ new methods and technologies to continue serving students, so the opportunity exists for clearing the layers of silt blow in by decades of incessant, fluctuating, and contrary educational winds.
Society is not stagnant. Just as one cannot escape the aging process, so schools cannot escape the sand which cultural winds continue to deposit. Driven by ongoing and powerful belief and technological changes, these winds have increased in intensity and frequency. Changes in college admission requirements, government mandates, career-readiness skills, testing requirements, minimally viable workplace abilities, parental expectations and involvement, and a barrage of competing voices all proclaiming their educational model is “the” one.
Buried in the ugly ruins of the coronavirus is a precious find: Clarity.
Clarity empowers. It unifies, energizes, soothes, and safeguards. It removes distractions, prioritizes values, and separates the vital from the frills. It frees people from energy-draining activities, ambiguity, and confusion. It creates alignment of purpose and multiplies effectiveness from its synergy. At its core, clarity is knowing your why. While it may seem counterintuitive given the time required to address the logistical and practical issues of coronavirus – masks, physical distancing, online versus on campus, and so much more – those who seize on this opportunity to unearth their why’s will be more empowered and at peace than those who don’t. As an educator, you want students to complete assignments but not at the expense of learning the lesson. Along with challenges, Covid-19 presents a teachable moment for educators. If new technologies are installed, policies implemented, and practices instituted but at the expense of learning the “why” lesson, a phenomenal opportunity will be lost.
Excavating your “why’s” may reveal a need for a backhoe and total rebuild. Or clearing away cultural silt. Or removing obsolete clutter. Or minor repairs. Or nothing but a commitment to preservation. Whatever the inspection uncovers, confidence will result!
Uncertainty is an insidious saboteur of peace, creativity, and resilience. The less energy spent on accommodating, delaying, or discounting resolvable uncertainties, the more energy is available to combat effects from uncontrollable unknowns.
A “why” dig focuses on mission, model, methods, and measurement. The more defined and communicated the “why’s” at every level – from the dress code to the vision statement – the more empowered, unified, and energized everyone will be. From teachers with clearly identified course and lesson plan “why’s” to board members with clarion reasons for policies, all participants will be more resilient in the face of fatigue and overwhelm.
Why these graduation requirements, curriculum, course objectives? Why this grading rubric, exam, assignment? Why these extracurricular activities and programs? Why do we have/not have a newsletter, website, podcast, social media presence? Why are we viewing, implementing, and measuring education the way we are?
Choosing courageous objectivity and comprehensive examination can be the catalyst for an invigorated, robust, and effective education system. Compelling concerns abound. Time-sensitive needs await. Pressing issues accumulate. Yet sage advice applies. From Charles Hummel in his 1984 book, Tyranny of the Urgent,
“Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.”
The work of archeological digs can be tedious, dirty, exhausting, lonely, and discouraging. Yet, a single “Voila!” moment is worth all the effort. Just as the Rosetta Stone’s discovery and later deciphering opened doors of understanding into ancient Egypt, so what your organization unearths can provide priceless and transformational outcomes for your students.
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