Friday, December 28, 2007

Fear of Flying

Tomorrow, I have to get on an airplane, and lucky for me it looks like we'll have a winter storm to fly through (written with sarcasm), hopefully to warmer weather on the other side! I'm sure there will be nervousness and trepidation for many of the passengers traveling this holiday season; and this has me thinking about how our fears sometimes restrict our personal and professional growth.

Recently, I had the opportunity to read "Helping Users Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway"
"Reduce my fear or guilt, and I'll be grateful. Help me do something that really IS scary, and I'll be grateful and exhilarated."

While succeeding (or failing) at something that is frightening, challenging, or with unknown consequences, may not be life-altering; there is little doubt that such emotionally-charged experiences, provide plenty of self-knowledge and enrich our lives regarless of the outcome. Providing opportunities for risk and reward in a safe environment is what much of teaching should be about. In the best of cases, educators take the occasional leap themselves and model learning through risk-taking, celebrating both success and failure at their attempts.

While many of the educational projects I've undertaken have been novel and unique, they've always been done within the relative safety of the classroom, or in front of a controlled audience of teachers. This blog on the other hand, is the forcing me to think, to reflect, to share, and above all, to take significant risks in front of a potentially global audience!

I just read Scott McLeod's Dangerously Irrelevant post "Blogs that Deserve a Bigger Audience", and I'm reassured knowing that those first to take the leap are working to soften the landing for those that follow. As an educator who has only recently been inspired to take the leap in ruminating publicly (talk about a YouTube moment!), this type of support cannot be under-rated.

Fear of Flying isn't just about the airplane... In the case of blogging, it's about the fear of what others might think of your ideas and about how effectively you engage others in the discussion. In the case of this blog, I'll go on... knowing that this type of risk-taking and learning is what education is all about. I love the metaphor provided in the EDS advertsement: "Building Airplanes in the Sky".

Knowing that educators are constantly flying without a net in implementing new curriculum; in attempting and adopting new strategies; and in making connections with new students, my hope is that educators will see themselves as model learners in taking personal and professional attempts at flight.

Maybe in the time I'm away, a few readers will take a risk in adding their comments to a blog that catches their attention and makes them think. I'll be back in a week or so... provided the plane makes it!