Starting the Year with Questions

This first week back to school has me energized and it also has me curious. Through my learning walks, conversations with colleagues and the readings/videos I’ve paid attention to this week on social media, I have a lot of questions that have been rattling around in my head. Questions that I do not have the answers to and questions I realize hold bias based on my current knowledge (and belief) on trends in education, but here they are:

  • How we will continue to move the bold mission and vision of our school forward when the current system that is universally accepted (by colleges, parents, students and teachers) is flawed?
  • How will we leave room for wonder and opportunity to question, experiment and network  in ALL classes?
  • What if we acknowledge that the learning outside the classroom is valuable, too?
  • What if we stopped communicating to our students that “learning” should come from a teacher inside a classroom? That’s schooling not learning. How does that possibly foster life-long learners?
  • What if we spent less time talking about how we grade students and spent more time creating authentic challenges and opportunities that invite feedback and foster a growth mindset?
  • What if we engaged in professional learning communities around what it even means to grade and how that is very different than assessment?
  • How might we help adults see the value, the brilliance, the untapped creativity that lives within our youth?
  • What latent biases and assumptions do we as individuals and societies hold that prevent us from moving the needle forward on providing the most authentic, contextualized, relevant learning experiences that put learners at the center?
  • How might we graduate students who create jobs rather than look for jobs? What would this require of us as educators? What would we have to let go of to make that a reality? Which content would we deem life worthy learning? How would we decide?



2 thoughts on “Starting the Year with Questions

  1. Meg, I’ve been engaging in Design Thinking for over a decade and only recently (past three years or so) did I dig up Mount Vernon. I’ve connected with many of your colleagues on twitter and I feel lucky that so many of you are so open and transparent about what you do.

    To whit…these questions. I’ve asked them myself, to myself, for years. I’ve taught a self designed humanities course in MS that focused on creating designerly minded learners and always these questions . . . these which you have done such a fantastic job of delineating and describing. Talk about “A more beautiful question!” All of these are beautiful

    As my PLN has grown this summer through Twitter Chats, reaching out through facebook and elsewise, I’ve realized that my fears…my concerns are felt by so many. And truthfully, I’ve lost sleep over these things, for after being moved to the HS to start a new English class and now, of my own will (which is what it was) a Design and innovation course for students, I don’t have an answer to these questions that satisfies those who do not question the system. And their shoulder shrugs and sidelong glances (these are imagined, but real enough) haunt my midnights.

    However, I proceed as a teacher driven by two questions which I cribbed from a design ad campaign by Sappi Papers: “Why are things the way they are? and How can I/we Make them Better?” So long as those questions drive me, I can continue to live the life of a teacher who, as a colleague of mine at Bard’s Institute for Writing and Thinking once noted, “lingers at the point of wonder.”

    Thank you for this post. I look forward to sharing these with my own group of teachers.

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to cite your post on my own blog ( I’m working on a series of posts that all begin with “what if…” because that’s where people like us live.



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