Where to start??


There is just so much in Part 2 to discuss, but I think this graphic is a great place to start! I remember the first time I read The Innovator’s Mindset, I stopped at this graphic and just pondered all that is presented here. The funny thing is that I asked myself…what if the physical schools could be like this graphic. Funny because I had yet to read the What if section of the book just a few pages further! Those eleven bulleted points are HUGE! Imagine how the world and our kids would be different if we focused more on the right side of the graphic than the left.  The right side is what I wanted for my kids when they were in school. There were those teachers who inspired and challenged my kids, but I would say that most of their formal education took place on the left side. I tried to promote the right side when I was in the classroom as a high school social studies teacher, but I think in the end the left side won out more often than not. There were those that I think I fostered in my students…challenging perceived norms,  promoting the idea that everyone is both a teacher and a learner, and making your own connections. Those were the ideas that made me love teaching.

But (and I don’t mean to get negative here!), it is challenging to truly make some of the changes that I believe need to be made. Schools are behemoths…they change at a snail’s pace. Let’s not forget that it is not just the teachers or administration who might be resistant to change. One of the biggest “roadblocks”  to change is the community. The mindsets of some communities are hard to change. I know that I am preaching to the choir here, but it is REALLY hard to encourage innovative thinking when community members are not convinced of the benefits of the right side concepts. I can only speak for the areas in the Midwest where I have lived and taught but, the common thought is teachers need to teach and kids need to learn. Teachers talk, kids take notes. Teachers give tests, students take tests. Community expectations make it more difficult to convince teachers to try for more of the right side!

So what can be done is what has been suggested by George Couros, innovate inside the box.


As educators, we need to make those right side ideas/concepts part of the culture of the classroom. Just as we can help one teacher at a time innovate, so can we make changes to the community as a whole. It would be hard to question the excitement for learning that your child brought home as a result of having a teacher who believed in the right side ideas. What if education became more about learning and less about schooling??

Don Sturm

5 thoughts on “Where to start??

  1. I like this thought, Don. Where I struggle with it is that I work with kids who have not mastered the essentials of arithmetic and communication. I don’t think most kids simply discover those skills, which are essential for life. Maybe because I can’t let go of that teaching piece, I have trouble getting third grade kids to see that they can learn independently from me. I’d love to hear from someone in the primary grades who has found this balance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally understand this …. “it is REALLY hard to encourage innovative thinking when community members are not convinced of the benefits of the right side concepts.”

    I think that is one of the reasons relationships are so important. I know of teachers who might think an idea makes them feel out of their comfort zone, but if they trust someone to help them work through it then you have them.

    I also sometimes people fear change, even if they know it should happen. Keep working on innovation!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Don,

    I so appreciate your post right now. It is SO difficult sometimes when the way to move forward seems so obvious but others might not be there yet. For me, it becomes hard to be patient. Sometimes it feels like it doesn’t HAVE to move at a snail’s pace, but I know I might be underestimating the roadblocks as well. So we keep trying, we focus on the kids and sharing our ideas, and we work hard to keep sight of what really matters: fostering a love of learning in ALL students. Thanks for your support this week and for your very honest reflection. You kept it positive without misrepresenting the truth of the situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The hard part for me, I think, is that I was educated in a school that embodied the right side. I didn’t realize then how rare it was. I am so thankful for it because I know it is possible but it becomes so very suffocating to experience so many schools that embody the left side.


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