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Aurora Institute

Audacious Thinking

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Rose Colby

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Rethink Instruction

audiaciousI was recently reading about Google X.  We often think of the Google workplace as the sandbox of Millennials.  It is filled with spaces for work and play and sets the pace for work-space design that challenges the thinking of educators who are working in spaces that are far different. Google X is the Google work environment on steroids.  It is the think tank of Google, where the only expectation of the employees is audacious thinking.

This has really jarred my thinking.  As we look at this new entity called competency education, we could really use a good dose of audacious thinking.  The No Child Left Behind era, which I hope is firmly ensconced in our rear view mirror, has trapped our thinking and caused a great deal of reactionary behavior in our ranks. Have you heard the following:  “Our kids haven’t done well on the state test for the past few years; we must need a new literacy program.”  “We don’t have enough supports in math, we’ll just have to build an RTI system for that, also.”What is really missing in this thinking is not our heartfelt effort and need to do better, but the need to rethink audaciously – not what we use in education, but how to create a new design for learning. What if instead of herding our educators together for a one- or two-day retreat to fix things, we create spaces for audacious thinking by some bright divergent-thinking educators, parents, and community members?  Let’s give them time – six months to a year – and an open space to gather together and research, think, and design prototypes for a real solution. I like to use the ‘Dream, Design, Deliver’ concept.

Google pretty much works under wraps. (Where did those Google glasses come from anyhow?  Who knew they were doing that?) Secrecy in audacious thinking by a bright group of individuals who are passionate about kids would have to be guaranteed. Have you ever seen some really good ideas tank in your district because too many people jumped to the assumption that it could never work?

Audacious thinking by good people in a space dedicated to redesigning local education: Think about it….

Rose Colby is an experienced educator. She taught high school biology and chemistry and has served as assistant principal and principal at several middle and high schools. She has been working with schools to develop competency-based learning and assessment models for the past three years. She is the co-author with Fred Bramante of Off the Clock: Moving from Time to Competency.