When I read one of @teachertechnol’s blogposts recently, I was immediately reminded of a few “a-ha” moments I have had about the power of language and how differently the same idea/process/activity can be viewed depending on what language is used to describe it.
Selena talks about “how the word change can infer that the thing you’re currently doing is in some way incorrect. That if you use the word ‘change’, ears can hear criticism. That the people you are trying to lead, to inspire to move in a new direction might hear a criticism, rather than a shared call to action.” Transform must be the word we use! If we want to encourage teachers to grow and transform their pedagogies, we need to use language intentionally. This is something I am trying to action in my own practice especially since attending the #CEGSA2012 conference in Adelaide this month where we had some good discussions about this topic.
I have read through several schools’ Annual Reports this year and professional development/performance management/performance development/professional growth are terms used to describe the same process. As an educator, what different thoughts come into your head when asked by your line manager to make a time for a performance development meeting as opposed to a professional growth conference? For me at least, the latter seems infinitely more positive…
Adapted and adaptive are two examples of powerful word usage that I heard from an educational consultant, David Anderson in 2010. David told us about the story of the Monarch butterfly who over the eons has adapted to live off the milkweed plant.
“The ecology and the home range of the monarch butterfly are closely intertwined, as with most species. Put simply, it is dependent upon milkweed plants… The distribution of the monarch is controlled by the distribution of milkweed, it regulates their density in a given area, and it is for this plant that the monarchs migrate for long distances every year. So dependent upon milkweed is the monarch that where one finds the monarch, one will also find milkweed.” ( source ) What will happen if the milkweed plant gets diseased and fails to produce enough of a food source for the monarchs? David then went on to tell us about the leopards in an African game reserve who had adapted their hunting habits so that rather than take to the trees with their kills, where they could easily be shot by hunters, they chose to stay in the long grasses where they could be camouflaged.
David invited us to consider whether we, as educators, were adapted to the previous century’s pedagogies of teaching or if like the leopards, we could be adaptive and change as necessity warranted.