Narrative Matters

10/21/2011 04:10:00 pm

Last night a group of Manitoban educators got together to talk about teaching and learning and how that learning takes flight when we take advantage of new opportunities offered by technology.

The evening was framed around having the six Manitobans who participated this summer in something called Unplugd, talk about this uniquely Canadian educational summit: 36 of us wrote a book in a weekend.

Anyone who's spoken to me since I got back from Unplugd knows what a transformational event it was for me and that I've really struggled with figuring out how to share what happened to me in a remote corner of Algonquin Park in North Eastern Ontario; a place entirely off the grid: they have no internet and the electricity and plumbing is powered entirely by the sun. The Northern Edge is a beautiful location.

I couldn't attend the event last night so my friend and colleague Andy McKiel asked me if I'd make a short video to share what I learned and what Unplugd meant to me. It's called Narrative Matters, a double entendre: stories matter and it's important to understand how to use storytelling to make ideas sticky. Here's what I made:

Ed. Note: I should have mentioned that The Northern Edge, where we stayed during Unplugd, is 23 km east of the small town of South River. In the video you'll see a brief picture of the South River train station where we disembarked. "The coat" is hanging on display inside that small building.

You can download the book we wrote (pdf or ePub), please do. Then share it.

I facilitated the team that wrote the first chapter: The Change We Need. Andy, Chris, Jaclyn, Lorna and Shelley made my job easy; they're some of the finest people I know.

I shared a story that motivated my written contribution to the book. Many people did, you can find the archive of all those shared stories in the Unplugd video archive. Here's mine as well as my written piece for the book.

You Matter
You matter because you can change the face of teaching and learning in your school. All you have to do is change the world - a little bit at a time. 

No teacher before you has ever taught children quite the way you do. No one ever will again.

The world needs to know what you’re doing. How you go about sharing your passion, your excitement, your enthusiasm for learning with the students in your classroom every day.

You make a difference in the world in the way you do this.

What you want for your students is for them to excel beyond your own expertise in all they learn from you.

It’s the dream of every teacher: to have your students become more knowledgeable, more capable, more competent than you.

It’s a measure of success.

Essentially you share your spark with them.

What we most want is to pass on that spark, this other centred attitude, an attitude towards the world that says: You Matter!

Adopting the attitude: “You Matter”, making people other than ourselves important and finding ways to make them more awesome, in the end, makes each of us a little more awesome. It creates the change we need in the world.

Let's pass that on to our students so they know they matter and understand their job is to make everyone they meet a little more awesome. When they’ve internalized what they’ve learned from us and brought it to another level: that’s success.

No one will ever see the world through the eyes of our students again. No one ever has, throughout the entire history of humanity. They have a unique contribution to make. We help them understand this is also true for everyone they meet.

Imagine a Canada, a world, where every politician, every trades-person, every professional, every store clerk tackled the world in this way? They’re all sitting in your classroom. Learning from you. Teach us too. Share what you know. Share how you know. Share what you learn. We need you too. You matter.

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