A colleague (Gardner Barrier, head of school at Forsyth Country Day School in Winston-Salem) asked me this week if I felt gratitude was a motivator for my Wisdom Road journey. In that moment and from that question I realized that gratitude is probably the principle driver on this complex, challenging, and frequently uncomfortable project. I realized that at the end of every conversation I had during my wanderings across the Northern Plains this last fall, I felt thankful for the meeting, the conversation, the freedom of listening and learning without any preset conditions, agendas, or thesis of outcome.
How often does our learning have a defined goal? Clearly this is the case during our years of formal education: grades, progress, rewards. As professionals we “learn” in order to be better at our jobs. On Wisdom Road I am free to learn and grow with no real idea of where that is going to “take me”. It is truly liberating. Human interaction can be a rewarding experience that exists outside of any framework. Not having a thesis is a way of experimenting and experiencing that apparently leaves open the opportunity for things like gratitude to seep in.
Gardner posited that the biggest challenge in education for the next decade, and perhaps beyond, is re-finding our ability and skills to connect as human beings, to re-find the power of simple human-human interactions. I could not agree more. I am re-finding, or perhaps learning for the first time, just that along Wisdom Road. By the end, I will have concrete ideas to share with all of you that I hope will help us meet this challenge. In the meantime, it is an open, and welcome Road.
Leg #2 of Wisdom Road starts on January 28! Join me on this journey. I will of course share blog posts here, but please also join the Wisdom Road Facebook group for small, informal updates from the road. And, as always, I am more than happy to join virtually with you, your team, your teachers, or your students to share what I am learning.