Maybe You're Looking At It Wrong

@MrBrettClark 0 Comments

I made a purchase the other day and I'm pretty excited about it. Before I tell you what it is, I must first tell you about the person who inspired me to buy it. Her name is Grace Hopper and if you've never heard of her, then you're not alone. Up until last week, I don't remember ever hearing about her either. 

Allison McCann said this about her in her post, The Queen of Code:
"As a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, Hopper worked on the first computer, the Harvard Mark 1. And she headed the team that created the first compiler, which led to the creation of COBOL, a programming language that by the year 2000 accounted for 70 percent of all actively used code. Passing away in 1992, she left behind an inimitable legacy as a brilliant programmer and pioneering woman in male-dominated fields." 
There is also a great mini-documentary directed by comedian of Community fame, Gillian Jacobs.

I was so impressed with her story and at one point the documentary it talks about a backwards clock she had in her office. The clock would really confuse people and they would ask her why she kept it in her office. She would say that there is absolutely no reason it has to go one way.

As soon as I heard that I knew I had to have one for my office.  When I opened it up, it wasn't long before I was explaining its significance to a coworker in my office. This new reminder to me and those who see it that we don't have to do it just one way. What works for one doesn't work for all.

I was recently in a conversation about best practices and the direction of schools. Upon hearing somebody tear down another school because they "weren't following best practices". I asked the person if the data supported their claims about the state of that school. Her response was that they are doing great work but just imagine how much better they would be doing if they followed best practices.

It just made me scratch my head because how dare we be so arrogant and say that we have the answer to every school, every student, and every community. I'm reminded of something my friend Dan Spencer is fond of saying. (And I'll have to paraphrase because I can't remember the exact quote for the life of me.) There are no silver bullets in education but if we use a bunch of silver BBs then we can make a difference.

It's the idea that we can't find one idea and then apply that idea to every situation. I was recently talking to a district about their technology plan and where they want to be as a district over the next couple of years. I was telling them about the great work we have done in our district and how we've transformed our district and community during my tenure as Director of Technology. However, I'm not naive enough to think that whatever we have done in my district will yield the exact same results in another district. It's about taking what you know, adding to it the knowledge of the community/audience and finding the best fit.

I would rather strive to find the best fit than just blindly implement the best practices.