To "Think out of the box" is not new in the local educational landscape at all... Many many years ago... (ah! the grandmother story begins...)... even before the "Blue Sky" talk about "Teach Less, Learn More"... Educators have been encouraged to "think out of the box", to think how to do things differently... in the light to seek improvements or better current practices.
I think, the biggest challenge is the environment... (if we were to unpack what it means by environment)
- While it seems like the parameters in the school seems to be be within the control of the MOE/school administrators and leaders, it is not always the case... depending on which aspects of 'environment' we are looking at
- Environment is not made up just by the physical infrastructure, it includes the people, the systems and structures around... and of course, the soul of the environment - the Culture.
- The 'easiest' to manage (amongst all facets of environment) is the physical infrastructure aspect. For example, efforts of mp1 had successfully transformed conventional chalk-and-board classrooms to become classrooms that are fully wired and connected to the world. Similarly, to create learning spaces, to bring in state-of-the-art facilities, etc. These changes can take place, and could only take place, with huge $ investments.
- The next, systems and structures could be both easy and challenging (for change to take place)... easy as it's possible (and easy to some extent) to establish the systems and structures; challenging, because what's planned would only come alive if the "people" element works. How long does it take for people to internalise the practices so that would make the new processes work. It takes time and perservence to reinforce to make it happen!
- Last but not least, is the most challenging one - the people element. People, it includes beliefs, practices, behaviour... which eventually shapes the culture of the organisation.
People, perhaps I would say, human beings are the most complex and difficult-to-understand creature! hahaha... the "older" (the more experience) one is, the more challenging to pin-down to their beliefs sometimes... because of the many external (push-pull) factors out there...
There are those changes that could not take place (easily) because of the people factor - one's personal beliefs - Is it aligned to the direction of the organisation? There are 2 layers to it, at least - outcomes and processes (i.e. the way to get things done)
- Outcomes (or more explicitly, Results), I think, there's no issue in terms of alignment.
- It is the processes - "Many roads lead to Rome"... There are roads (paths) that are well-travelled - tested and proven to be safe! So, that's inside the "box"... these methods would guarantee results!
- In an organisation that strives to change the experience, it calls for individuals (that make up the organisation) to think and deliver the processes in an "out-of-the-box" manner. I think, this is utmost challenging to those who want to stick to their good-old-ways! This is what I mean when I said "human beings are the most complex and difficult-to-understand creature!" If one doesn't believe in the potential of new ways that change the learners' experience, then why bother to migrate (from a 'standard' box) into this box? There's definitely a mismatch!
Perhaps, before one decides to migrate, one needs to think... why one wants to migrate from its current comfort zone...
- Is it because the current box is not comfortable enough? It's not well furnish? Then when looking for a new box, what does one exactly looking at?
- An enhanced version of the existing box? The choice of box matters. There are many out there... however, to make it comfortable, one has to stop making comparison and complain - because, the problem could lie on the individual! One has to play a part to adapt too! (To be fair to the box, you make the choice!)
- If one intends to find space to experiment, however is not ready to leave one's 'old' beliefs and practices behind to be more open-minded, then perhaps one should forget migrating to this box that's full of 'holes' that require the butterflies to leave the comfort zone to expand the box virtually!
The box that provides the "out-of-the-box" experience is definitely not a place for those who are prisoners to their old beliefs and practices.
Well, all in all, I think the above applies to all of us... whenever we make the choice... whether being a learner... I choose this environment to pursue my passion... or being a professional... I choose to come to contribute (see, the word is contribute and not to just do the 'job')... I choose to change my path, because I believe that's what I'm looking for and I'll try my best to make a difference to the path... to participate wholeheartedly in the transformation process...