Unleashing Genius: How and Why We Should Experience, Then Reflect
In my blog from 2 weeks ago, I wrote a brief blog about awakening the passion in our students, and really in anyone. The third approach which I touched on was to “experience, and then reflect.”
Why is this important?
How can we do this effectively and without “loosing control” and/or still “staying on task”?
Without first experiencing something, such as a learning objective, in a relevant and exciting manner, we simply are left with content with no context. We end up with learners who lack critical and creative thinking skills, and these will be needed more than ever with the tech revolution which is already here. However, there is a second reason, which in my estimation is even more critical. Experiencing something first, and then reflecting, will feel risky, and it can be.
However, the most magical, efficient and inspiring leaders are those who embrace risk enough, that risk itself becomes their norm.
These kinds of leaders also learn how to navigate which kinds of risks are worth the potential upheaval. If we do not present experience and its potential risk to our students, we will create generations of people who think all risk should be avoided, and in doing so they will become less creative than the Ai which will surround them.
What is control and why do we think we need to control our students? Think on your own experiences, tendencies, personality and be honest with yourself. Does our own discomfort in our areas of weakness influence how we teach?
What if we looked at empowering our students, instead of being the source of power for them?
Even if we mean well, the more often we seize power and control the classroom setting and the students in it, the more we weaken our students and their ability to discover their potential and truly address their weaknesses.
How do we define “staying on task” as adults? Does this mean we cannot take any detours of any kind in our thinking and acting throughout our day? Wait, didn’t some of the greatest minds in the world take detours of thought which led to a long list of discoveries?
Staying on task is one thing, but a lack of it, does not equate into a poor work ethic. In fact, some people who are very good at staying on task, use that as a poor example of supposed work ethic.
There are many ways to help guide students in experiencing first and then reflecting. Here are just four key points I’d like you to embed into your daily practice as a teacher, parent and friend.
Be present in the moment
Simple, right? Yes, it is simple, but not easy. Essentially, we all need to be practicing meditation in an active way. It’s alright if our mind wanders when we are in a conversation, as long as we are aware of it and we consciously bring our mind back to the conversation. Without this, we aren’t even in the game. Without this, most thing become moot very quickly.
Ask great questions
I speak about this alot, and the reason is that it is a foundational skill as a human being. The asking of questions opens up the world and allows us to “teach in the key of life” as one my great mentors, Mimi Chenfeld, likes to say. When students are asked a question, not just in words, but with our open handed gestures, raised eyebrows, and/or a slight smile, they know that “We want to know what they’re thinking.” Without this, you will find student responses bordering on meaningless, perhaps because we are not presenting a reason for being meaningful.
Be honest when you don’t know something
As both a parent and teacher, I have become a master of this as my humility has caught up to my intelligence. We want to be so inviting with others, that they seek us out. No better way to accomplish this than by saying “I don’t know, what do you think?” or “I don’t know, how can we find out?”
Apologize when you make a mistake, without...
We all make mistakes, yet some adults were taught to never admit their mistakes, even when it’s obvious a mistake was made. When we do this, we are teaching our next generation to not own their mistakes. We are teaching them that integrity doesn’t matter. We are also missing out on a unique learning moment.
When we can apologize without following it by using a comma, the word “but”, or “however”, we model true ownership of being human.
When we do this, we begin to let go of our fear, and we begin to risk with our ideas again. This is not only the essence of a high level learner. This is what it means to truly live.