I am reading the book A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger right now. It is a really good book. Mr. Berger lays a solid foundation for the importance of questioning as it relates to learning, creativity and innovation. One part (of many) that really made me think, was when he wrote about moving away from mission statements and more towards mission questions. This makes a great deal of sense. He writes how you really don’t want a statement that makes it sound like you have already achieved something and are simply resting on your past history, nor does a mission statement make it sound like you are constantly working to stay atop the field you are in. He believes that a mission question for a business (or in my case a school or district), promotes a desire to constantly adapt, be flexible and open to fresh ideas, all while still driving home the laser-like focus your business or school is all about.
So… this of course got me wondering about what a mission question might look like for my classroom and district. A few I thought of were;
How might we prepare our students to be future-ready?
What if our focus is on thinking and not content?
Where is the space for wonder, curiosity and imagination?
What does it mean to be future-ready in this district?
Do the teaching and learning inside school mirror the teaching and learning outside of school?
Is the teaching and learning inside of school relevant outside of school?
Hmmmm…. Something I will keep thinking about:)
Does the art studio develop creativity or hinder it?
Is the learning in the art studio relevant outside of the art studio?
What does it mean to be future-ready in this art studio?
Where is student voice, choice and ownership in the learning?
How do students express their own voice and style, and explore both internal and external influences as it relates to their world?
More to think about…
It really does make sense to think about a mission question as opposed to a mission statement. The mission statement seems to emit a sense of stagnation to me. A mission question, seems to empower from both inside and out, of an organization.
We want students and teachers to question more, but so much of our educational culture is still geared towards answers and products. How can we shift from a culture of answers, to one of questions? How can districts encourage questioning?
A metaphor I often think of, being in the arts and all, is that of a broadway performance. I feel like teachers are the stars and the audience is the students, parents and community. Each and every night, I think most teachers approach the performance as the final act. Only perfection will do. No shouting out, “line please?” No running through rehearsals dressed in sweats. The venue is pitch black, to make sure only the final product is viewed and nothing behind the scenes is visible. No understudies standing on stage learning from their mentors. None of this. It must all be perfect! No room for questions, mistakes, or failures.
However… What if… teaching was viewed as a dress rehearsal every day. The house lights were up to show the process. The actors could shout for help whenever they needed. Everyone could question parts of the performance in order to create a more meaningful show in the long run. Behind the scenes action could be more transparent. What if teachers viewed everyday as a dress rehearsal and approached each day as a chance to get better, ask questions, take risks and in the end, make someone’s day a little brighter:)