The other day I was hanging out with my god daughter (she’s in grade two), and she showed me a project that she was working on for school. Basically, the task was to make a 3D piece of art out of found items. Using her knowledge of shapes, she had to draw the project in class then go home and build it with her parents. She made a pretty cool truck out of cereal boxes and toilet paper rolls. She was really proud of it when she brought it over to show me.
I asked her: 1) what was the best part of her truck 2) what would she change if she could do it all over.
She looked at me quizzically and told me that Madame does not let them change their minds.
The thought horrified me. I countered with “but isn’t that what learning is all about? If you haven’t changed your mind, then how will you know that you’ve learned anything?” She gave me a look that said “I have no idea what you’re talking about”… and then I let it go.
Our conversation got me thinking about how we view change. Changing your mind has a pretty negative connotation in politics. If a political leader changes direction or views on a particular subject, the person is called a hypocrite or a liar. Having said that, change also has a very positive connotation when we talk about design. If a designer changes his/her mind about a piece of work, that person is progressive. How does that work? What makes the politician’s change and the designer’s change different?
Right now in my school board there is a real focus on knowledge building as a form of learning. In fact it’s one of the Six Competencies being pushed in by our 21st Century Learning Department:
In my class we talk a lot about changing our minds and refining learning. The hope is that continual improvement of ideas will “increase the likelihood that what the community accomplishes will be greater than the sum of individual contributions”. Basically, if we keep changing our minds, then the learning that we come to will get closer and closer to “the best idea”.
Heidi Siwak refers to this process as a ladder with her students:
Here’s a pretty great example taken from Heidi’s class. I love how the students are able to articulate the refining of their ideas. As they think and rethink, their ideas change. Their ideas improve.
Maybe it’s the dialogue that is the important piece. If voters were able to better understand a politician’s change, maybe they would cut her/him more slack. If my god daughter’s teacher had a mechanism for documenting the thinking of her students, maybe she would embrace change.