Be Subversive: A Message From The Future

Though my coursework for Walden University is complete, each faculty mentor has an online “class” for his or her mentees. We, the mentees, are expected to participate in a few online discussions (and other progress reports) per quarter. For this quarter, Dr. Nolan, my advisor, put out a call to the participants for discussion prompts. I was thrilled that he chose my suggestion for our first discussion: “If you could deliver ‘a message from the future’ to the educators of today, what would it be?”

It was great to read the wide variety of perspectives in my colleagues’ responses, and though I can’t share all of those here I realized that my response might make another good blog post. Obviously, I’m indepted to Tom March for this response, too.

Hi, all. I’m thrilled Dr. Nolan decided to use this question. It comes from a welcome activity I started doing with principals (in a technology training for administrators). I finally put it down in a blog post a few months ago after a particularly powerful version of the discussion. Here’s a link to that post, which also tells the story behind the question and includes some others’ messages in the comments:

For my answer in this discussion forum I think I’ll tell another story. When I was at NECC in 2006, I was in the live audience for a webcast interview panel with Will Richardson, Tom March, and others – moderated by Chris Walsh. At the end of the session, Chris asked for questions from the audience, and I decided to ask what message the panelists had for teachers who felt they were unable to use the technologies the panel advocated (blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc) because they were not allowed by their superiors or their organization. It was a response from teachers I was encountering often at the time. Tom March gave a response that struck me at the time and has stayed with me. He said simply, “be subversive.”

He elaborated by suggesting that teachers should try these technologies (and new pedagogies) anyway, and then show their superiors what their students had accomplished. Hearing Tom say that validated my feelings on the subject and made me feel empowered to pass it on. I’ve repeated the story (or just the answer) for many educators I’ve worked with. And if I were to send “a message from the future” to the educators of today, that would be my message: “be subversive.”

The fact that today some educators are not afraid to try new things and then share them with others will be critical to building the educational systems of the future.

I’d love to read any comments responding to the “be subversive” message… or responding to the “message from the future” prompt.