How can we move into a future we cannot completely understand?

I'm flying toward Arizona and the AzTea WoW conference where I'll be
speaking to administrators this evening about school leadership in the
21st century. It sounds generic but I consider this a sacred
opportunity. I know the importance of school leadership and I
understand the power that comes from administrators having a vision for
positive change. I want to seize this and every opportunity like it to
inspire or re-inspire these people to take the helm of their districts
and school and steer them into a bold future. Whether we are gazing
toward the far off lands or waiting in a fog bank, our kids will live
on the shores of the future. They will have to make fires with
indigenous wood and hunt for local game. They will have to be
comfortable and empowered to live in a future that we in education
don't always understand.

How do you help kids prepare for a future we cannot ourselves see? It
would be the height of egocentricity to pretend I have the answers but
I look to other leaders and authors and thinkers to help me help
schools answer this question. If we were taking our students west in
pioneer America I think I know what we would do. We would work together
to learn all we could about the new frontier. We would send scouts out
to survey the land and look for opportunities and risks. We would find
natives who could help us understand the unfamiliar surroundings and we
would make sure our kids had the knowledge to survive as we moved west.

What does this look like when the west is the future? I look to the
people on my networks on Twitter and Plurk and Classroom 2.0 and others
for help finding the answers. I have strategically built a powerful,
fun and intelligent crowd of minds and I look to them for inspiration
and guidance as I lead my particular wagon trains west. I look to
scouts with their crazy willingness to go first and risk the arrows of
misunderstanding and fear, because they return to camp with crucial
knowledge of what lies over the next hill. I look to natives and people
who are helping to build the next horizon, the coders and software
engineers and thought leaders who imagine the future our kids will live
in. I look to teacher practitioners who try innovative approaches to
integrating new technologies and empowering their learners, while still
hitting all of the required standards.

With all of these resources in hand, or as close as my smart phone, I
summon the wagons, snap the whip and move forward. This forward motion
is not without some risks. I don't think we get to be completely
certain about the perfect way to settle the future. We're moving toward
a destination that is always moving farther west and it is always
changing. I know we will spend sleepless nights worrying whether we've
made all the right decisions but I think that knowing we are moving our
schools toward a future that our kids must succeed in is one thought
that will help us overcome our fears.

If we stay back safely ensconced in our old settlements and fling our
students into a future that we do not understand, I wonder what their
landings will be like. Fortune favors the bold and I admire the
educational leaders who don't ask: Can we do it? They ask: How can we
do it. The answers are out there in the form of other leaders,
classrooms and schools who have already started moving. If we network
and pool our mind resources, we can take our kids into a successful
future, no matter what that future holds.

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