Irrelevant Schools

Schools are moving to new models of learning and becoming more aware of the need to scan the environment, to think beyond their current paradigms of schooling and to consider what is needed for the future success of learners. At least some schools…

In my work as a leadership futurist I have the pleasure of supporting schools and organisations that are committed to extending their thinking and taking action towards a preferred future. This is not always easy in conservative communities but the openness of a leader’s mindset is crucial. Adaptive leaders understand that schools are #learningecosystems and that status quo will ultimately lead to the death of the organisation. When I hear a school leader saying that they don’t need to change because they are already top of the league table and have a waiting list… I wonder how long they will survive.

I use #learningecosystem deliberately – no acronym! A #learningecosystem is a living organisation, constantly adjusting to be fit for purpose. It acknowledges and learns from the past but changes constantly. These changes will become increasingly disruptive.

Technology is a key driver of change, a disrupter that will have an exponential effect on all organisations, and schools are not exempt. Salim Ismail describes this well in his latest book, Exponential Organizations. Recently, I had the pleasure of listening to Salim talk about the Exponential Organization in more depth. Here are my key ideas relevant to schools, and just as relevant to other organisations:

  • Update curriculum in real time in order to keep up with the pace of change. This means constantly creating and interpreting curriculum based on feedback loops from students, scanning the environment and spotting signals early. Exponential change starts off looking incremental but as it doubles… woosh.
  • Use digital technologies to augment the human experience. This means intentionally designing high order thinking processes to create powerful learning. Without this digital technologies are an add-on for doing today’s work – functional but not connected.
  • Move from scarcity to abundance. This means teachers and schools working collaboratively and passionately for the common good.
  • Be open to ideas, to information, to structures, to sharing, to community. This means continually testing your own assumptions and flexing the muscles of an outwards mindset.
  • Find your Massive Transformational Purpose (MTP). This means identifying your aspirational purpose and living it in heart and mind.
  • Pull don’t push. This means co-designing with users of the system so they want to be part of the movement. Meaningful and connected involvement is irresistable. Grow the tribe.
You can’t fix the existing system. You need to create new structures and migrate to them.

My twitter feed has been alive with people who are disrupting education, who are not (and will not be irrelevant). I am sensing a sea change in education in New Zealand and particularly in Christchurch. As changemakers at the edge it is important to keep bringing from the outside in. Share bold ideas with others. Help them connect. Listen. Stretch. Act.

If you want to explore the Exponential Organisation in more depth, check out the following slideshare:

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