Pull the string for better education

This post is a spin off of a post by Justin Wise over at Be Deviant.  In his post, Justin begins:

“There are two ways to get what you want in the world:

A. Push

B. Pull”

This ideas seems to mirror itself in the education world as well. There is a lot of pushing that happens in education…

Pushing students to perform better on standardized tests.

Pushing teachers to use more technology.

Pushing more structure and longer school days.

Pushing politicians to understand the reality of being a teacher.

Pushing colleagues to join a PLN (personal learning network).

Pushing parents to do a better job of preparing their kids.

Pushing awards as a way to convince students that their learning is worthwhile.

Pushing.

We (and by we I mean the collective “we” of teachers, parents, politicians) try to force our issues by pushing.

There is, of course, another option: Pull.

Again, from Justin’s post:

Dwight Eisenhower famously stated, “Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish. Push it, and it will go nowhere at all.” When you pull people along with you, you invite them on a journey.

Pulling by treating teachers with dignity and respect as professionals.

Pulling decision makers into the classroom as friends and not just a paycheck.

Pulling students along as you allow them to be individuals, think creatively, and provide the room to learn.

Pulling colleagues into conversations, relationships, and opportunities.

Pulling everyone forward with the focus on why we do this thing called education.

When we pull, people allow themselves to be led into new ways of thinking, acting, and considering because we are inviting them along on a journey.  When we push, the immediate reaction is to feel defensive and push back.

Right now education has a lot of pushing happening.  In the mean time students, the real focus of education, are getting lost in the shuffle.

Pushing seems to come from a place of fear and unrest. Pulling comes from a place of hope and insight.

How can we create cultures within schools, communities, and government of pulling?  How can we do more inviting and less forcing?

Pulling might take more thought, creative solutions, understanding, and work. The results of pulling are much more fruitful than the results of pushing. Let’s get out of that cycle together.

I would love to hear your thoughts about how we might create a culture of pull.

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14 comments

  1. You pose an outstanding question. I’ve never quite thought of it in this way…”pulling” as opposed to “pushing.” Of course you are correct, pulling implies coalition, synergy and consensus while pushing brings to mind chaos, resistance and force. Yes…pulling is better. And you certainly see “pulling” (or lack of a better term) within PLNs or within ed tech circles. We seem genuinely interested in supporting (i.e., pulling) each other along. But outside of these circles, the dynamic is quite different. Kelly, I just don’t know. Doesn’t pulling require the consent of the pulled? The pulled have to believe. The pulled have to want to go where you would have them go. (Every great coach understands this). Doesn’t “pulling” require a measure of implied consensus? Given the many divergent opinions about what is, and what is not, educational “reform,” (or for that matter, the need for reform at all), how do you do that? Can you do that? Or is the answer, once again, giving all children a choice about where to go to school? Can there be pulling absent choice in public education? I just don’t know…my mind is kind of spinning. But this is an outstanding question Kelly. A question that deserves asking. I look forward to thoughtful answers.

    1. @Mike- I am thinking of pulling more as a drawing out, a leading. Not a forceful activity like pushing. I am constantly being “pulled” by my PLN, “pulled” by my students. If a teacher isn’t willing to be pulled, stretched, and grow…are they truly a teacher?

  2. i agree teachers are pushed and sometimes are even forced to use technology in education , just lately a teacher came to me and said , how can use this tech staff and i hate to even hear the word , curriculum planners thought it useful and neccessary to used tech in the classrom but the appraoch they adhered to is faulty , they need to train teachers first on how to use it and convince them of the importance of technology in schools before they move to the practical step .

  3. i agree teachers are pushed and sometimes are even forced to use technology in education , just lately a teacher came to me and said , how can i use this tech staff and i hate to even hear the word , curriculum planners thought it useful and neccessary to use tech in the classrom but the appraoch they adhered to is faulty , they need to train teachers first on how to use it and convince them of the importance of technology in schools before they move to the practical step .

  4. You post made me think of Covey’s ‘The Speed of Trust.’ We need to work collaboratively as much as we can to get stakeholders to see the importance of our work! How can we make learning authentic for kids?? We must continue to allow them to create meaning and that means with the assistance of technology. Great post!

    1. Yes Kim! What stands out about your response is the “allow students to create meaning”. That is so important, that is how true learning happens! Thank you for your comment!

  5. Kelly,
    I appreciate your thoughts on push vs pull. It occurs to me that when pushing, we see the backsides of those we push and they only feel us pushing. If we pull, we have the opportunity to turn and see those we pull. We can see their reaction, their stresses, their successes. I also appreciate that you said “pull” not “drag”. The ability to interact with those we are pulling makes the job easier for all involved and may encourage others to join in the venture

  6. if you haven’t seen/read it yet – you will love Hagel and Brown’s Power of Pull:
    http://www.edgeperspectives.com/pop.html
    where they focus on accessing people and resources, attracting – or shaping serendipity, and achieving – pulling out of each of us the potential that resides within

    Hagel’s posts are excellent how to’s as well:
    http://edgeperspectives.typepad.com/edge_perspectives/2011/01/passion-and-plasticity-the-neurobiology-of-passion.html
    etc

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