Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"First one through gets bloodied."

I have heard this expression a number of times at the Digital Conferences  and in our staff room with different colleagues in Surrey School District.  Although I agree in it's veracity I also know that the second person following that same path of research in a new area of study can be in a worst situation then the first person.  Being with a large group of researchers at our school investigating everything from electronic portfolio, twitter, and Web 2.0 tools to researching the effectiveness and uses of Facebook, Document readers, and free web tools, we have come across a number of hiccups in what we are trying to do.  We all know there are always bumps in the road of change, and being the first you usually come across unexpected problems when researching something new.  This I agree with. 

Consider the 2nd person that goes through the same path of research.  We have a number of people trying twitter for learning with their students, for conversing on different topics and reporting homework to both students and parents.  Although one person introduced the use of twitter to the school there can be more then one person who's has gotten bloodied travelling down this same path in their research.
Broken window
by Questa Durron

Think of a window.  The first one through this window of research breaks the glass, and although sometimes they get cut, usually the glass gets pushed out of the way, falling forward and away from the researcher.  This person may get cut, but usually continues to break the path.  Now consider the second person through that same window.   You can see all the jagged edges that they now need to avoid.  

The second person down this path of research is scrutinized more diligently then the first, for failure instead of success because of the first incident of blood being let.  This 2nd person needs to avoid what possible mistakes or bumps were encounter previously, but now there are more shards of glass to avoid. Many people watching the 2nd person will assume the same mistakes will be made.  Some must work against a preconceived negative outlook of others, working uphill if the 1st attempt went bad.

In many ways to continue on with a path set by someone else is problematic because the 2nd person knows what problems they will encountered, what mistakes will materialize and knowing these problems does not necessarily make the voyage easier.  More then this, they have to overcome additional obstacles the first person did not have.  Notice the edges of glass that were left behind, or the barriers that were put up to close up that broken window.

We are all the same in our school, all looking at doing an better job by changing the way we do things in our classrooms, to make learning more effective and efficient for our students.  We all care about the students and we want to do the best we can.  The first one that tries something new is important but it is just as important that second person, and sometimes even harder for that person to continue on.  

As Winston Churchill once said "To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often".  We're trying to be perfect, but the definition of perfection changes in this changing world.  So we must remember as well what Nelson Mandela once said "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world".  We're working at changing a child's world, one child at a time if necessary.

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