“YOU THREW AWAY THE MAP!”, is the terrifying pronouncement that leads to the demise of three young, guileless campers in The Blair Witch Project. Without the map, they despaired of finding their way out of the dark and scary woods. Fortunately for us, that film is from 1999, and in the 21st century, as Seth Godin notes, the map has been replaced by a new compass.
It is time to disrupt schooling as we know it. Yet many educational leaders are looking for the mythical Map to Transformation that will provide the steps necessary and outline a clear path to future learning. This Map is reminiscent of the strategic technology plans of our recent past, which clearly outlined “what needs to be done” over three, five and sometimes even ten year years. We had such confidence in those documents; encoded pathways to a secure, successful future.
In this period of rapid change, educational leaders can no longer rely on a map, but must instead set their compasses towards a compelling vision of schooling that is more authentic, student-centered,collaborative and creative. Technology propels us towards an ever-changing, open landscape. Like explorers before us, we must chart the course and constantly recalibrate and adjust as we go.
Luckily, educational leaders do have some things they can rely on during this time of transformation. Schools with cultures that embrace change, support teacher leadership, and develop shared vision can move forward, tentatively at first, and then with bolder steps towards a transformed learning environment. The compass adjusts to each step we take, hopefully, bringing the destination closer. Those waiting for a step-by-step map, will be increasingly left behind. Those venturing to a different future do so with the interests of students at the heart of all they do, confident in the knowledge that the 100 year old status quo will no longer suffice. Only by keeping the compass steady, will we make it through the woods. This is the moral compass that obligates us to do what’s best for students.