Starting with why

For me, the theme of the last two weeks has been starting out; starting my teaching in my new lecturing role, delivering the first lectures on the ICT course for both our BEd and PGCE courses, and working with BEd students on their first experience of designing a lesson. Throughout these starts key message has kept coming to the forefront of my mind; start with why.

In 2009 Simon Sinek gave a TED talk about what he called ‘The golden circle’ , a model to conceptualise how we see the What, How and Why of what we do. He argued that most people start out by looking at What they will do, then they move on to How they will do it, but rarely consider Why. Instead, the most successful businesses start instead with Why and then work out, giving them a gravitas that creates fans instead of customers.

When looking at encouraging students in their use of ICT in the classroom this week, it was tempting to start with What. What could they put on a slide, What interactive elements could they use,What could they get the children to do…

What leads to focusing on technology use and not on learning.
What leads to trying to fill and structure every moment and not letting learners lead their learning.
What leads to busy work, for teachers and for learners.

Starting with why gives you confidence to leave empty space for learners to fill.
Starting with why leads to using tools to support learning and not at all when they don’t.
Starting with why  leads to an emphasis on learning and development and not on producing ‘stuff’.

It took me a long time to work out that when you start out with Why, the What and How largely take care of themselves. They become obvious and straightforward when you have the confidence you get by knowing and consciously defining Why you are doing things.

Sinek’s model is inspired, because it straightforwardly puts across a concept that can transform educational practice just by reminding people to think of the simple, core elements every time they start. In everything I do in this new role I am starting with Why, if I can be successful in encouraging my students to do the same I know I will already have made a big difference.





One response to “Starting with why”

  1. […] back from there to design the learning. I’ve written about how I think teachers should ‘start with why‘, but in ‘Making Learning Happen‘ Phil Race brings something else to this […]

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