You know that book, Ways We Want Our Classroom To Be? That book largely answers the question of “How.” How do we want our class to interact together?
But I think asking “Why” is even more important, especially in the midst of the radical transformation happening in education. I think we need to ask “Why” first, before we even ask any questions about “How.”
For example, I think we should ask first day, first hour, “why are we here?” Why are we all here?” Now there’s some trite answers like, “My parents made me come here.” And that is valid, yes. It is true. But on a deeper level, why will we continue to come here every weekday and become a group for the rest of the school year? “What reasons do we have for coming together as a group, as a team, every weekday?”
Consider a homeschooler. If you were homeschooled, you’d be able to accomplish a lot, right? And you’d meet with all kinds of people in other groups, right?
“So what can our group do that we wouldn’t be able to do with any other group? What can we do collectively that we wouldn’t be able to do as an individual? What impact can we have on our lives, on our communities, on our world?”
Like a start-up, or an established organization, we can create a statement of our purpose, our reason for existing. We can make it enlivening. It can be the central focus of all our activity.
Such a basis creates an identity. We all become practitioners in our self-created community of practice. We identify and highlight our significance. We create and label the way that we are essential to the community and to the world.
We arrive at this statement of significance by consensus.
“What do we want to accomplish or achieve that we can only do with this specific combination of people, this unique group? What change do we want to make in our life or in lives around us? What contribution do we want to make? In what way will we serve, be servant leaders?”
Simon Sinek had a Ted talk and has a book: Start With Why. And I think we need to do that for our class.
Someone might say, “We’re here to learn stuff.” But is that the real reason? Is that something you can’t do by yourself? Is that something you need all of us for? So then what is a better reason?
And whatever we co-create, it doesn’t new to be fixed or permanent. Maybe later we find it needs to be fixed or modified or re-imagined completely. So we can keep coming back to it and refining it if need be. We can keep checking in on our statement of significance and reflect: “Is this still our significance? Is this still out purpose, our reason for being?”