Hello. My name is Jennifer Sertl, President of Agility3R. It is an honor to be asked to contribute to the Cooperative Catalyst – where education is being changed at the speed of speech. Being given a chance to share my voice, I felt the greatest contribution I could make was to evoke in all of us a cause to foster even more curiosity and passion. In both the school room and the board room I see more and more emphasis on results and measures. I am fearful that our ability to compete in a global economy will be compromised if we don’t counter that focus with the skill and practice of passion and curiosity.
When I think of education today, I am reminded of the wisdom of Jean-Jaques Rousseau’s Emile written in 1762. This was arguably the first book published on how to formalize education. The whole premise was based on the power a personal tutor has to develop the heart and the mind of the student. If you want to learn astronomy – go hiking, get lost, find True North, etc. Real life simulations where attention can be paid on what is personally relevant to the student experience. I believe so long as there is passion and curiosity-students will learn naturally. Our natural state is a desire for growth and curiosity. We are trying to hard to “orchestrate” and “formalize” something that is so natural.
Whether it is teachers in a classroom or leaders in a business–there is so much wisdom in the pupil , in the employee. We need to better honor that natural desire for growth, curiosity and value creation. What is needed is more one-to-one time where people can truly discuss out loud their current thinking, emergent challenges, and the types of questions they are asking. In our culture “the process” is devalued as the focus is on “the result.” I believe we will get better results by honoring the process of learning.
One of the greatest influences on my life is Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic. You can meet him, too, on this recent TED Talk where he discusses music and passion: http://www.ted.com/talks/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion.html
Zander is relevant here as the greatest lesson he taught me was that the conductor of the orchestra doesn’t make a sound. He/she gets her powerful by facilitating other people’s power. Teachers, leaders – we get our power not from our lectures, but of the way we bring out the passion, curiosity, hunger of the student/employee. We need to put more focus on our role as facilitators rather than educators or bosses. It is an exchange of power and information– it is a dialogue of experience.
Learners – learn. It is their role to experience, interpret and act. Teachers/leaders are conduits– we are to draw forth.
May you be a better facilitator today and tomorrow.
Co-Author Strategy Leadership and the Soul