Here’s the story of two brothers named Peter Chamberlen, who were both highly successful obstetricians. The eldest Peter is believed to be the inventor of forceps, a revolutionary invention at the time, which helped make giving birth a significantly safer process. Wonderful, except it was a secret. In fact, when the brothers “arrived at the home of a woman in labor, two people had to carry a massive box with gilded carvings into the house. The pregnant patient was blindfolded so as not to reveal the secret, all the others had to leave the room. Then the operator went to work. The people outside heard screams, bells, and other strange noises until the cry of the baby indicated another successful delivery”(source:Wikipedia). Apparently, this secret was kept in the family for another three generations. It makes you wonder, if you knew your invention saved lives, why not share it??
How does this relate to schools, you ask? – Highlighting the importance of sharing the good stuff we have going on.
I was reminded again of the importance of collaboration recently, when Cathy Wylie spoke at an NZEALS event. She spoke of the fragmentation of schools following the inception of Tomorrow’s Schools and how we are more likely to compete against one another now. Now, I can’t really pass judgement on this, since I was certainly not a teacher during these contentious times, when Tomorrow’s Schools was just coming in. However, what she said did ring true to me, in terms of the importance of creating or enhancing the connections we have between schools as well as between the teachers we have within our schools.
Sharing the good practice in our schools and classrooms is, of course, vital to this. I think it’s very easy to think, “I’m busy enough as it is, why would I blog, tweet, share with team mates or speak at conferences?” I think we need to reframe this and think, “what would the positive impact on students beyond my direct influence be if I did share what was working for me?” After all, we are all in this together. We all have the similar goals for our students as they leave us and enter the ‘real world’. We all have the same responsibilities to our students and communities, as well as to society and the economy as a whole.
So let’s do what we can to break down the barriers to sharing. Be brave and put your ideas out there! Create an environment in schools where sharing is valued, not discouraged. Try to eliminate the competition that exists between schools and even within schools.
If you are looking for an opportunity to learn, share, collaborate and connect, come to EduCafe next term. See www.educafeblog.com for more details.