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What If?

Session 1
David Jakes — Glenbrook South High School, Glenview IL

In todays educational climate, its easy to continually focus on why things wont work and cant be accomplished. Federal, state, and local mandates and requirements have contributed to a school climate where fresh ideas, new directions, and the development of new pathways for learning are met with resistance and skepticism.

Changing the language of interaction is a simple, actionable step that can undertaken tomorrow to reverse the nature of how people interact together and with ideas. It can begin with refocusing on What if and seeing the potential of ideas instead of continually focusing on why things cannot work and why things wont work, and in effect, challenging everything with Yeah But.

Designing solutions to the problems that education face requires an opportunity to vision, to dream, and to create climates where ideation is not only encouraged, but is the norm. How can school climates become environments where ideas be acknowledged, amplified, and actualized?

Together, in this session, well ask What if and use the power of two words to reframe how we think and how we develop ideas that contribute to new pathways for educational change.

Conversational Practice

The design thinking process begins by immersing people in empathy, and the human need involved in addressing problems. The process continues by focusing on ideation, and developing creative ideas that can potentially address the problem that needs to be solved. To be able to develop ideas, the climate where these ideas are developed needs to be one in which all participants contribute, accept and extend ideas, and can begin to connect ideas together to create all together new ideas.

After a short presentation on What If to set the stage, attendees will be charged with developing a set of What If statements.. Participants will be given the following as an ecosystem of questions that can promote ideation:

  1. Grounding question: What does it mean to be well-educated in the 21st Century?

    2..Four skill domains: What does it mean to communicate, collaborate, be creative and demonstrate critical thinking.

3..New model of learning: anytime, anywhere, anyone, any path, with any device.

The charge is to ask What if? and develop/vision/dream new ideas that that can be put into place tomorrow, in a week to a month, or in a year or longer. For example, one group may choose to ask and develop What if statements about collaboration as it applies to any device and learning with anyone.

I want go give them an opportunity to reverse how they think, focus on possibilities, understand that with the right mindset, ideas can indeed be developed and put into play. I also want to give them the opportunity to understand how to ram ideas together to create absolutely fresh new ideas.

Participants will work in groups and ideas will be shared with the larger group. Ideas will then be shared online for anyone to see and comment on.

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