#IMMOOC: I’m Ready To Be More Dog

As I began re-reading The Innovator’s Mindset as a part of participating in #IMMOOC, I really tried to give a little thought to author George Couros’ reference to the O2 commercial in which a cat decides that he has had it with the sedentary, boring life of being a cat and determines to “be more dog”. (If you haven’t seen the commercial, here is a YouTube link so that you can watch it.) Honestly, after picking myself up off the floor from laughing so hard at the cat, I found myself wondering, “What is 02?”  Well, aside from the fact that chemically, it is oxygen, a little more digging uncovered the fact that it is a mobile network company in the United Kingdom. In their words, “‘Be more dog’ is all about encouraging Britain to embrace the new, have a go with the unknown and dabble in innovation. We’re also gearing up for our 4G launch later this summer, so it’s the perfect time to get the nation trying more and being a little bit more dog.” (https://goo.gl/JYTt9L)

If educat20160918_225354ors and, by association, schools are to “be more dog”, what does that really mean? I thought I would begin by asking my resident expert, Kona de Yorkie. Kona is a two-year-old Yorkie who lives with us and happens to excel at being all dog. He explained to me that for one to “be more dog”, one simply has to master the arts of being:

 

  • more spontaneous,
  • more forgetful or one’s size (or lack thereof, in Kona’s case)
  • less finicky about what you put in your mouth, and
  • generous in giving yourself to the one’s who care about you most.

Those things, he said, were the beginning points. I walked away from the conversation scratching my head — especially about the third point. But after I had considered them for a while, I realized he was right. So, my translation is that as a teacher I need to be more

  • “in the moment” with my students,
  • teach like no one else is looking,
  • be open to trying new things to see if they fit, and
  • pour myself into the “being” part of being human, especially when I am with my students and peers.

Then, according to Kona, I will be less a teacher and be more dog.

The whole discussion reminded me of a steer my wife and I once owned. (We also had 5 or 6 horses, but that is a story for another time.). Beauregard was a Holstein calf that we had adopted from a local dairy farm when he was three days old. He grew into a 2,000-lb. lap dog who behaved more like a horse than the bovine that he was. He had been raised with horses since he was weaned off a jumbo-sized baby bottle, and most of the time he considered himself to be a horse. One day, our horses were feeling particularly frisky and were running en masse through the pasture. Beau was in hot pursuit. The horses came to a fence and made a sharp 90-degree right turn. Seconds later, moving at a similar speed but with considerably less dexterity, Beau arrived at the same fence. Unable to make the sudden turn, he attempted to jump the fence, but only succeeded in crushing the five rows of wire, flipping tail over head and landing with a thud on his back. I thought surely he was done, but he stood up, shook himself all over, bellowed loudly, before running off to find his equine buddies. Maybe he was just trying to “be more dog” in a funny sort of way.

I am going to be more dog. I will undoubtedly flip over a few fences, break down a few walls, and put my tongue — well, never mind. You get the point. Let’s just embrace the opportunity that is change and get out there and be more dog.

 

 

 

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#IMMOOC: My Innovator’s Mindset

I teach technology. Well, actually I teach one of America’s most amazing natural resources. I get to teach ninth grade humans, most of who are 14-15 years old. I, on the other hand, turned 61 a week ago. It’s becoming more of a challenge to keep up, but I digress.

I told my students this week that I would rather that they become more proficient at asking the right questions, than more adept at recalling answers. Algebra, I told them, had not changed a great deal in the last 1,000 years or so. World geography changes with the speed of shifting tectonic plates. English grammar? Well, only slightly faster. Technology? Don’t get me started. All too often, the technology I understand at breakfast is hardly the same technology that I will teach in my afternoon sections. “Get good at asking the right questions and you can deal well with the rapid pace of change in technology,” I said. 

I am trying to bring depth to a knowledge-based technology applications course, filled with factoids and steeped in basic skills. For almost 15 years, I sought to integrate technology into English classes of seventh and eight graders. For the past two, I have sought to integrate biology and geography and English and Algebra into my technology. My world is backwards and upside down — both at the same time.

To accomplish that, I became a student of inquiry-based learning this past summer, and I have determined to shift from a lecture-based show and tell model , to an independent learning-based model in which students learn not only the “what” and the “how” of technology applications, but the “why”.  I don’t want them to merely efficiently download a world of information. I want them effectively change their world.

For the student who was amazed that WWW made such a “cool” abbreviation for a phrase that she grew tired of typing (“world wide web”) — as though she, herself, had invented the abbreviation — I challenged her to live without the “WWW” for a day  in order to measure its influence on her life.Her standardized test would ask her what WWW means. I would want her to also know what the WWW means to her.

So I am seeking an innovator’s mindset. I have enrolled in a course being designed by the author of The Innovator’s Mindset, George Couros, along with more than 1,000 other educators. I could not be more excited about the opportunity to challenge myself so that I can become more adept at challenging my students.