Sometimes I find the simplest ideas I have read stick with me, sinking away in the background and bobbing to the surface repeatedly in different contexts. Back when I was preparing for the interview for my current job I read a blog post by my now boss Tom Kenyon in which he considered the promise of technology in schools and asked:
“What if we’re wrong?”
I’ve been talking a lot in certainties over the last few weeks, and I’ve been hearing others talk in a similar way. This thing will be a really exciting development, that thing will never work, this idea will certainly fly, that one isn’t even worth starting.
When dealing with things we are passionate about it’s the natural position to take. For those of us fortunate enough to work in the field of learning, passion is so often a big part of what we do. It drew us to the whole thing in the first place, it excites us enough to stay, and sustains us when things aren’t quite how we would like them to be.
Yet it is so important to take some time now and then to ask ‘what if we’re wrong?’.
Would your whole reason for doing what you do fall down? Or would you, as Tom suggests, put it down to learning and be satisfied that a certain avenue has been shown to not be worth pursuing and move on to another? Would you even be able to realise that you are wrong?
The ability to ask the question and be open to finding the answer might be the most important thing. As teachers, I’m not sure the most important thing is being right, whether in your answers to a specific question or in your fundamental beliefs about learning.
What is more important is a willingness to think at all about the possibility of being wrong. Only then can you even approach what might be right.
Every time I find myself making a cast iron assertion these days, Tom’s words come back to me.
What if we’re wrong?
More on this theme in ‘The Thinking Teacher’.