Left Field Thinking

Why is my professional thinking always in left field? I am working on a project that I am struggling with. In a discussion about this project, I realized that my struggle is the depth of my thinking. This thinking is way out in left field – out of the box – the “What if?” kind of thinking. I’m calling this left field thinking but I know it is technically divergent thinking. I celebrate and embrace my left field thinking. As a matter of fact my left field thinking is what has kept me in education. My left field thinking gives me hope because I am always thinking “What if?” On the other hand my left field thinking keeps me in a state of frustration. In the past when I have had discussions with colleagues, my “What ifs?” were often ignored. Some of my colleagues would roll their eyes or pretend that I never asked a question. If my colleagues did respond, it was “that’s just the way it is”. Why is “the way it is” accepted? There are always alternatives. What if…?

I think now more than ever we need to consider the “What if?” in education. We are preparing children for an unknown future. A future that relies on the “What if?”. If education is not considering the “What if?”, then how are we preparing children to be productive citizens? When we consider the “What ifs?” we act differently. We change the way we think about school. We think about ways to redefine the school learning experience to be one of many possibilities rather than one correct answer. We think about ways to push all children and help them think that anything is possible. We use reading, writing, listening, and speaking as tools for communication rather than teach them as content to be tested. When we consider the “What ifs?”, we encourage students to read and think for themselves rather then relying on the teacher to tell them what to think. We provide opportunities for students to talk about their thinking with others. Open discourse helps us see, hear, and understand from another’s perspective. Reading and discussions about reading become food for thought. When we consider the “What ifs?” we realize the necessary shifts needed in our practice. We embrace that teachers have to learn to facilitate learning in a way that supports students as they develop creativity, critical thinking and problem solving skills. We embrace that we have to learn how to facilitate innovation in the classroom so that students can use innovative ways to apply their creativity, critical thinking and problem solving skills as demonstration of understanding. We have to embrace the power of listening even when we do not agree. As teachers, we have to embrace how to deal with controversial ideas so that we can help our students learn how to deal with them. We know that controversial ideas can make us feel discomfort, however, discomfort is essential for learning. It is the journey into discomfort where we grapple with ideas about what to do when we do not agree.

Already I can see the eyes rolling and what it looks like when my thinking falls on deaf ears. However, what I do know is that I am not the only one in the universe who thinks in left field. I know that I am not alone in this thinking and I know that these are not new ideas, but what I know for sure (in my Oprah voice) is that now is the time for action. What are your “What ifs?” Share your “What ifs?” in the comments.

Now more than ever we need to consider the “What if?” in education. #WhatIf Click To Tweet

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