Saturday, June 4, 2011

I - They - We: Multiple Perspectives -v- Group Think

One of the things I've been thinking about recently is the idea of multiple perspectives.  Last week when I was thinking about the sort of person I would ideally like to work with as Tech Director at our school, I decided one of the most important attributes of this person might be the ability to embrace diversity and dissent, to be a real communicator and to open up the channels of dialogue and discussion.  What I have come to see in recent months is how important multiple perspectives are as opposed to group think.  Having a  lot of people in a committee or in a department who all think the same is like being in an echo chamber and is not the best or most intelligent way to move forward.  In the past I've been on IT committees and have headed up an IT Action Team, and one of the best things about these were the discussions we had as we all came with different viewpoints and perspectives.  Because of this we were able to anticipate many of the problems that might arise and because we were looking at them from different vantage points we were able to come up with more creative solutions for them than if we were all of the same mind.

Last week I was part of a workshop on evaluation, compensation and school climate.  The idea of multiple perspectives was raised again at that meeting as many of the participants had different views about what good teaching looks like.  We were presented with the idea that the best teacher evaluations were done by teams of a minimum of 3 people who observed at different times of the year - not all planned visits.  These teams should have one administrator, but should also include colleagues who may well be looking at and appreciating different aspects of a person's teaching.

Having multiple perspectives, however, is no good unless they can be brought together in a constructive way.  Two years ago I attended a presentation by Tom Kelley at the Apple Leadership Summit in Hong Kong about the Ten Faces of Innovation.  He argued that organisations need lots of different people to be a success, one of which is a cross-pollinator.  In organisations where there are people with very different ideas, a cross-pollinator is vital for connecting these people and ideas together and facilitating open communication.  People often think in different ways because they have different values - they place importance on different things and therefore often find it hard to agree on the way forward.  At our school we obviously have people in the Aric Sigman camp, who believe the increasing use of technology and social software is damaging students' minds and undermining traditional methods of learning,  and we have those with the totally opposite view who feel that technology will completely transform the learning environment for the benefit of all.  Although diverse ways of thinking are beneficial, diverse values can lead to problems.  This is one reason why I think anyone who takes on the role of Director of IT will need to have superb interpersonal skills - to be able to pull all these diverse opinions together into a vision for the future of IT that is shared by all.

At the ICT in the PYP curriculum meeting I attended earlier this school year, we talked about the I - They - We continuum of the way students see and use technology.  The We part of this is very much collaboration and social creativity.  We will need to work hard on the We to come up with a shared vision for the future of technology and how it can transform the learning environment, we will need to get away from the idea of technology as merely a tool-set and a skill-set, something that students have or do that simply enhances the learning (the I part of the continuum).  We will need someone to focus on technology as a mind-set that redefines the way "We" teach and learn.

Photo credit:  More perspective combining tests by Tiemen Rapati

No comments:

Post a Comment