Agent of change

All of the topics we have discussed in GEDI throughout the semester has lead to this: we need to revamp the system, use our tool belt and change the old way of thinking.

I pondered about how I would word my last GEDI mutterings until one overarching theme finally reared its head: we need to incorporate the real world.




Yep, that’s right. We need to connect the dismal enclosed classrooms that we expect these newfound adults to thrive in, and expose them to the real world. Isn’t college about figuring these things out? A cushy world where it is, in many circles, socially acceptable to wear uggs, shorts, and a white t-shirt in 30F weather? In my mind this isn’t even okay in college, but I digress.

It’s about making mistakes, asking questions, exploring new topics and NOT costing your career because of it. We need to show our students that thinking is encouraged… and the real world DOES connect to your classes! Ground-breaking, I know.

Problem based learning, student-centered classes, using technology, encouraging new experiences… these are on our tool belts. Let’s put them to use.

Embrace change

Gawande’s article makes sense… everyone needs a coach. A fresh perspective, a new way to look at something, a way to improve.

There are some folks at my barn that I really enjoy riding with, not just because they are fun to talk to, but because they criticize me. They watch me ride, they make suggestions, they tell me how to fix what I’m doing… and they don’t sugar-coat it. I’ve been riding for nearly two decades, long enough where many riders get an impenetrable ego and don’t allow change. However, I haven’t ridden all the horses in the world and never will. I can always improve.

I’m lucky, it’s especially easy to ask for advice with a green (“newbie”) horse, when in doubt just blame all the road blocks on her lack of training. What it boils down to though, is that 99% of the time our issues come from me. The only way to improve is to (a) video and critique myself (ain’t nobody got time for that), (b) have a friend critique (read: coaching), or (c) suck it up and never improve.

I like option B.

I have a lot of coaches… better yet… free coaches. This is an important thing to note, there are resources all around us- the minds of our colleagues. Let’s put them to good use. Chances are, they’ll enjoy giving their opinion and your mind will be opened because of it.

PBL… offering REAL solutions?!

Okay, so we’ve given PBL the golden seal of approval. We know it helps students learn, gets them to make critical connections and teaches them to apply acquired skills to real-world problems.

But there’s more. PBL can actually use the available brilliant minds of students, an incredible resource, to actually solve actual problems. Why on earth wouldn’t we ask students to challenge themselves, dig deeper into subject material and potentially change their world?

That’s what a middle school in Roanoke did. Not a bad idea..

The world is full of problems

How many times in your day are you encountering problems and have to find a solution?

If it’s not daily, you aren’t human.

Why should our classrooms be any different? To me it’s shocking that more professors haven’t implemented this practice. Life is problem-based learning. Let’s use it in class… classes to prepare students for real-life jobs.

This teaching method shows students that they can solve problems and there are more than one way to find a solution. It’s a confidence builder and a great teacher on conflict resolution.

The drawbacks? Teacher investment. They don’t have the time… if the desire is lacking.