If we are to truly transform education, imagining new possibilities and realities, then we need to embrace different models of education, structuring our systems accordingly. What do these new models need to be like? What are the factors that will enable new possibilities to emerge?
Through my research, I explore the ways in which educators imagine new possibilities and create new models for things that cannot yet be seen. I also consider the ways in which individuals negotiate and navigate the constraints within organizations. I seek to understand the degree to which innovation is embraced or exhibited as a result of the metaphors we live by and the intersection of the individual with the language and culture of an organization.
- Click to view: Thesis(Final) Karen Steffensen May, 2012
I invite you to explore these narratives and share your questions and comments in the comment box below. Thank you for taking time to accompany me on my journey of transformation.
“As Human Beings, we are defined by the causes we serve and the problems we struggle to surmount. Whether it’s Nelson Mandela battling the scourge of apartheid, Craig Venter unraveling the human genome, or Larry Page and Sergey Brin bringing order to the vastness of cyberspace, it is a passion for solving extraordinary problems that creates the potential for extraordinary accomplishment…You’re going to need passion for some very specific, very noble challenge.” (The Future of Management, Gary Hamel, 2007, p. 37)
It was mid September 1990 and in my newly appointed role as Vice Principal at Sechelt Elementary I was keen to put into practice suggestions I had encountered in the numerous leadership readings I had been doing, in particular, one that made reference to “managing by walking around”. As I wandered the hallways of the main floor, I soon came across a group of boys outside their respective classrooms, engrossed in a game of eraser hockey, oblivious to my presence and keen on scoring their next goal…(Read more…Creating Our Future)
“A narrative is composed of a unique sequence of events, mental states, happenings…these are its constituents. But these constituents do not as it were have a life or meaning of their own. Their meaning is given by their place in the overall configuration of the sequence as a whole, its plot or fabula. The act of grasping a narrative, then, is a dual one: the interpreter has to grasp the narrative’s configuring plot in order to make sense of its constituents, which he must relate to the plot. But the plot configurations must itself be extracted from the succession of events.” (Jerome Bruner, Acts of Meaning, 1993, p.43)
In this chapter, I share my experience with cancer and the way in which this unfortunate disease entered my life. I use the notions of dimensionality (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000), wakefulness (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000), wide-awakeness (Greene, 1978) and metaphor (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980), as the lenses to look back upon the events leading up to the diagnosis, the actual diagnosis of cancer, the subsequent treatment and finally, the arrival on the other side of this disease.
Through the narration of these events I intend to show that what I initially perceived as an unfortunate event is in fact extremely fortunate because of the insights and new plot line it created for my life’s story. Thus, for this narrative, the title Beyond the Diagnosis, which gets to the heart of seeing beyond “what is”, came into being…( Read more…Beyond the Diagnosis)
Our Vision: Achieving global impact
Our Mission: Exemplary patient care, research and education
Our Purpose: We are a caring, creative and accountable academic hospital, transforming health care for our patients, our community and the world.
Our Values: * Caring * Excellence * Teamwork * Innovation * Integrity * Leadership * Respect (University Health Network)
It was three days following my cancer surgery. I lay in the hospital bed reflecting on my journey with this frightening disease. A rare form of bone cancer had resulted in the necessary removal of a large portion of my hard palate. The typical course of treatment following the surgery would have involved insertion of an obturator (a prosthesis used to close the opening left as a result of the removal of bone and tissue), but fortunately for me, my course of treatment was not typical…( Read more…Transformation, Creativity, Caring & Accountability)
In this case study, I look back on my experiences as a newly hired music teacher given the task of bringing greater diversity to a school’s existing music program and I reflect on the choices I made and the factors that guided or influenced the program renewal that I was embarking on. As a narrative inquirer, I seek to understand the decisions I made in light of several theoretical contexts, in particular, connections to the theories and research of Maxine Greene, Paulo Freire and Homi Bhabha.
The telling of this story is intended to be a “mode of knowing” (Bruner, 1986, p 11) and through the process of retelling, I seek to find connections between the events in the narrative, how they have come to shape my identity as an educator and ultimately, how this retelling might inform others seeking paths of renewal and transformation within their spaces of learning… ( Read more… A Question of Renewal)
In this chapter, I share excerpts from the narrative interviews conducted with Tsimshian artist Roy Henry Vickers and surgeon Dr. Ralph Gilbert. Through analysis of these two interviews I seek to connect research on innovation, creativity and the imagination to factors that enable innovation and creativity to occur within systems, organizations and institutions. In this analysis, I draw upon the notions of wideawakeness (Greene, 1978), metaphor (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980) chaos theory and connectivism (Seimens, 2004), as well as concepts of what constitutes meaningful work and joy from The Progress Principle (Amabile & Kramer, 2011).
Interview 1: Through the Eyes of an Artist
Interview 2: Through the Eyes of a Surgeon
It is my contention that by tapping into sources of inspiration such as those described by Dr. Gilbert, inspiration empowered by “artful-mindedness” (Steffensen, 2012) and an open learning stance, organizations, schools and educational systems will be truly generative, responsive, free of borders and limitations, thereby optimizing the identity of individuals and the entire organization. This artful-mindedness will ultimately enable us to move us from a state of entropy to renewal and innovation in praxis, transforming and eluding “the politics of polarity”, where we might emerge “as the others of ourselves” (Bhabha, 1994, p. 39). ( Read more…Narrative Interviews )
Moving Beyond the Diagnosis: Redefining the Possible
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
(T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets, 1942 No.4 Little Gidding, V)
One of the greatest challenges facing educational transformation is getting beyond the diagnosis in order to redefine the possible. We have been tinkering at the edges in education for a long time without, in my view, any significant change or lasting effect. What will it take to get schools and systems to a place of truly “imagining forward differently” (Zatzman, 2009)? In seeking insight to this question, I ventured outside of the field of education in order to garner insights that might provide inspiration and inform thinking anew…
As I further reflect upon the personal narratives, case studies and interviews that have informed this research paper, I now see that these experiences have afforded me an opportunity look to each of the Four Directions for understanding: the Teacher (A Question of Renewal); the Healer (Through the Eyes of a Physician, interview with Dr. Gilbert); the Visionary (Through the Eyes of an Artist, interview with Roy Henry Vickers); and the Warrior/Leader (as captured by the case study Creating Our Future.
The narrative Beyond the Diagnosis embodies all Four Directions, a story about healing, teaching, vision, and leading change. It is my contention that together these narratives offer us a model for transforming the places and spaces within organizations that have become fixed by the status quo. ( Read more… Conclusions: Thesis Karen Steffensen)