I am extremely honoured to announce that in conjunction with Dave and Shelley Burgess, the creators of the DBC, Inc. line of books, we have formed a subsidiary publishing company, IMpress. This is a joint venture that will focus on publishing four to six books each year, focused on innovation, empowerment, leadership and unleashing talent at all levels of an organization. Most of the books will have a connection to my book, “The Innovator’s Mindset”, but will not be limited to this. We want to join forces to publish timeless manifestos by incredible educators that will truly push education forward in a positive way.
That is why I am extremely proud to announce our first book, “Empower”, by AJ Juliani and John Spencer. This book is remarkably special and different than most books in education. When I read the first draft, I was not only amazed by the message, but its unique style makes it one of the most readable books in education. It is also LOADED with tons of practical ideas. It is an amazing read, and I am proud that this will be the first in a line of books from IMpress.
Here is the foreword from the book which hopefully sets the stage for the rest of this amazing read. I hope you enjoy it.
Recently I was listening to a teacher talk about their more “traditional” view of education and how “compliance” wasn’t a bad thing for students. He even went a step further, saying students should be “obedient.”
I cringed a little.
Okay, maybe a lot.
First off, let’s look at the definition of obedient:
Obedient—complying or willing to comply with orders or requests; submissive to another’s will.
Is this what we really want from our students? That they are simply submissive to the will of their teachers? Do we want to develop generations of students that will challenge conventional ideas and think for themselves—or simply do what they are told?
I do not know many teachers who would want to be “obedient” to their principals. We teach the “golden rule” to our students; we must follow it ourselves.
So let’s look at the word compliant.
Compliant—inclined to agree with others or obey rules, especially to an excessive degree; acquiescent.
Is compliance a bad thing to teach in education? Not really. In some ways, people have to be compliant. Think of tax season. You have to be compliant with the rules that are set out by your government.
As educators, there are times when we have to be compliant in our work as well. You have deadlines that you have to meet (i.e., report cards).
Compliance is not a bad word, but it should not be our end goal in education. My belief is that we need to move beyond compliance, past engagement, and on to empowerment.
These ideas are not separate but, in some ways, can be seen as a continuum.
Let’s go back to the word compliance. Has that really ever been the end goal of schools? Maybe as a system overall, but I think the best educators have always tried to empower their students. They know that if you are truly good at your job as an educator, eventually the students will not need you.
That is why “lifelong learning” has been a goal in education forever. If our students are truly compliant when they walk out of schools, they will always need someone else’s rules to follow. To develop the “leaders of tomorrow,” we need to develop them as leaders today.
Focusing on empowering students is seen by some as “fluffy;” students just show up to school to do whatever they want. This is not my belief at all.
Empowering students teaches them to have their own voice and follow their own direction, but if they are going to be successful, they will need to truly have the discipline (using the definition, “train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way”) to make it happen. “Empowerment” and “hard work” are not mutually exclusive; in fact, both elements are needed to make a true difference in our world.
Think about how many of our kids in school talk about becoming “YouTubers.” If you truly want to make that happen, you do not apply to some job, but you will have to focus on creating content consistently over time while building an audience. This might be your dream, but to make it happen, there is a lot of work to be done. Becoming a content creator allows you to follow your own path, yet to be successful, hard work is needed.
I love this quote:1
“Hard work does not guarantee success, but lack of hard work guarantees that there will be no success.”—Jimmy V
Helping students find their own paths—not the ones we set out for them—has always been the focus in education, yet we need to be more explicit about this path.
A.J. Juliani and John Spencer do a great job of sharing why empowering our students is not only important in our world today but crucial. As they state, this is about shifting our mindset, which will ultimately lead to students not only believing they can change the world, but doing it because of school.
We all want our students to be respectful to educators and peers. Hopefully, we all want them to walk out of school, become intrinsically motivated, and find their own ways to success and happiness. Compliance is sometimes a part of this, but it is not the end goal. Are we trying to develop students to fit into our world, or are we hoping students feel they have the power to create a better world both now and in the future?
“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”—Steve Jobs
Your legacy as an educator is always determined by what your students do. You change the world by empowering your students to do the same.