The following guest blog is the latest in Learning Forward's partnership with Fierce, Inc. that explores aspects of communication that encourage meaningful collaboration. To read all of Fierce, Inc.'s blog posts, go to http://www.fierceinc.com/blog/.
I'm a very competitive person, and have been from a young age. In school I would stress out before tests and presentations, wanting to make sure that I was the best. The way the education system was designed only helped fuel my desire to be this model student. Good test scores and grades were rewarded, and I wanted those rewards.
My father recognized this trait in me early on. One night, when I was in the fourth grade stressing over the details of a project about the Oregon Trail, he asked me a profound question.
"Why do you want to learn this?"
I remember looking up at him, with my miniature covered wagon almost complete and the neatly written report ready to go, and being totally dumbfounded.
What kind of question was that?
I was learning this because my teacher told me I had to. It was a graded assignment, and not only that, the best miniature scene got the coveted role of being displayed at the parent/teacher conference at the end of the month.
When I told my father this he simply nodded his head. He then asked me if I had ever thought about how learning could feed my soul.
Being nine, I was put off by the choice of words, and yet more than a little curious about what he meant.
My father and I then proceeded to have one of the fiercest and most transformative conversations I've ever had. The fact that I was only nine meant nothing. In that conversation, my father and I explored the idea of what it meant to learn. He opened my eyes to what an education can do for a person's soul and, more importantly, their outlook on life.
Focusing on achieving the best grade or becoming the best student can only take you so far. It limits your thinking, and trains you to take only the steps necessary to achieve the minimum required of you.
Learning to better yourself, to teach others, and contribute to society expands your view to a bigger, global picture. It's that magical space where innovation lives, where creativity breathes.
That simple shift in my context didn't deter me from still wanting to excel, if anything it only amplified my motivation. The difference is how big I dared to dream with the knowledge I learned.
Educators, parents, and we at Fierce in the Schools cannot underestimate the power any single conversation can have on a child. Imagine a generation of students who have the mindset that they should take control of their learning, to not only better themselves, but the world around them. Imagine you as an educator being able to shift their context through not only a conversation, but also by exemplifying a commitment to continuous learning in your own work. You would be a game changer.
Account Executive, Fierce in the Schools