Friday, May 18, 2012

Week 3 Reading - Tearing Down Walls

In Zanders’ Seventh Chapter of The Art of Possibility both Ben and Roz takes the reader on a “journey of possibility” by given examples and experiences that shows us how we take negative experiences and turn them into “walls” of challenges instead of paths toward our journey of possibility. The antidotal quotes and stories they use seem common sense, many of which we know. They have a way of helping you understand why it is “OK” to view the world from the “glass half-full” view instead of the opposite of half-empty. The focus of view that we should take should be on what is positive about the circumstance. In that ay we can focus on what moves us forward and not what holds us back.

I made an emotional connection as well as had an “Ah ha!” moment when reading the chapters of this assignment at two points. The first point; I teach teachers technology integration and continually hear from some teachers, “I can’t do this stuff”, “I’ll never understand this technology”, where am I going to get the time to practice”, or my favorite, “I haven’t needed technology in all these years, why do I need it now?” For most of these teachers their focus was on the “wall” or the technology. Many could not see the possibility in advancing themselves or their students through its use. Zanders’ explanation helps me to understand my role as an educational leader to reach them. Teachers often fear technology because they are afraid to make a mistake or “break” the computer. Zander says it is difficult to maintain an approach to things positively, “…in our competitive culture where so much attention is given to mistakes and criticism that the voice of the soul is literally interrupted.” This is where my leadership skills come in to make them feel secure both in training and when they return to the classroom.

The second point of encounter came from Roz Zander’s discussion of “The Wall”. In that section she talks about the “the wall” between a 16 year old boy and his parents. She addressed how the more the father talked about the wall that the boy put up the more the boy withdrew in the conversation. The only question I had when reading this section was how did Roz Zander get in my house without me seeing her? I had a mirror reaction to my now 25-year-old son when he was 15-16 years old with the same situation and circumstance. The conversations always centered on the wall and not what caused the wall or better still what would it take to fix it or tear it down. Discussions were usually “downward spirals” that inevitably led to a higher and thicker wall or as she puts it, “tend to look more and more helpless.” The long story cut short, leads to our finally remembering how much we loved each other and my realizing that he only wanted to be heard and seen as some value to the family. The wall fell down.

I am enjoying the journey.


  1. Bill, isn't it great when one receives the light bulb that changes your lighted area. Man, I must say that it brings joy to know that one can see things differently. See things in ways that create those possibilities. Your story about the barrier between you and your son is what so many go through. So many children always feel they are never heard. As adults we see children from the time they are born, as a person to teach, mold, show, guide, and watch grow. There is one thing that many struggle with is allowing for the child to become an adult and allow for them to use what was taught to them and flourish to be the man or woman they are meant to be. Plant the seed, care for the roots, water as needed and allow the harvest to flourish.

  2. Bill,

    I am also enjoying this journey that Ben and Roz are taking us on. They are both really insightful and have a good grasp on the issues we face everyday. A few chapters earlier I was moved by one of Ben's students who realized that he could make the decision to change from being # 68 to being an A. It made me realize that as teachers we have the ability to be a light for many students who have only known darkness.

  3. Bill, I really enjoyed your connection of the reading into your real life application of teaching teachers how to use technology. I too have come into contact with many teachers who are afraid to try under the guise of not seeing the implications it could have in their classroom of not feeling the time spent on leaning this new technology outweighs the benefits it could have in their classroom. I have given many presentations at many different conferences around California trying to tear down this wall that teachers have built up believing that learning a new technology will take too much time or is too hard to learn. By the end of the presentation many members of my audience are excited to go out and try new things. We have to realize that many of us still need that one person to hold our hands, tell us everything will be ok, and walk us to a place which we have never gone before.

  4. Bill, I love your take on this book. It is a wonderful book and it is definitely eye opening for me as well. Your comment about the Wall view some teachers have of technology made me instantly think that they should instead look through the "window" Technology provides into the new learning spaces it creates for us. These walls we so comfortably build for ourselves are our sense of security in our survival mode for self preservation. Ironically, they are the same walls that will ultimately lock us away from our greatest potential....outside the box.
    I had a few "aha" moments in the reading this week as well. Leading from any chair really struck home for me being a military veteran. We lead from every rank depending on the situation and the person. Sometimes the lowest ranking person is the only one in the group with a specific skill set, making them the subject matter expert. We cannot lead where we will not follow.
    It was helpful to read your reflection on your experiences relating with your son as a teenager. Knowing I am not alone in the struggle to communicate with my teenager helps me know that I haven't suddenly lost my grip on reality. Sometimes I forget how I felt at her age, because I see her as a strong, confident young woman, and forget that she is still a teenager trying to find her way. I pray every day that the Lord gives me the right words to match what is in my heart, so that I can convey what is important for her to know and hear from me.

  5. Wonderful reflection on the reading and your frustrations trying to do the right thing. it's so good to know that others have gone through or understand what we're going through. Wonderful.