I am regularly struck by just how persistent Change has become in our lives. For me, 2011 was a year of tremendous change, both personally and professionally. There were so few “normal” or “standard” days. Every week brought different challenges, ones that I had never encountered before. I recently read this quotation by Sir Ken Robinson, the “rate of change is going to accelerate; it’s not going to decrease. We are not heading towards some calm pasture where all of the change will be behind us.” While I have believed this intellectually for some time, it is only recently that I have begun to wrestle with what that means for each of us as educators. If there is no “calm pasture,” if we must adapt and flourish in the midst of constant upheavals and confusion, how do we survive? How do we keep our creative energies flowing when there are so few calm spaces?
Teaching in an ever-changing world is stressful, that is all there is to it. If Sir Ken Robinson is correct, and I believe that he is, change is now the new constant, and there will be no respite for us as educators. There will not be a simple Finish Line to cross. We will not learn how to teach with technology and be done or to master Project-Based Learning and be able to relax. The list of skills and novel ideas will continually grow. As soon as we adapt, the landscape will have changed.
What is a pasture and why is it so appealing? First, it is a place where each member of the herd is recognized and known. The group bears the same brand, no matter what the shape or size. It is a place where each member is accepted. It is also a place of healthy nourishment. The herd stops and rests there. The grass is green and the water is pure. Finally, it is a place of safety. The wolves and dangers of the outside world are held at bay, while the herd is refreshed and strengthened.
I want a place like that in my life. If I have to live with constant changes and shifting, I want a place to be safe and nourished. I want a place where I am known and accepted. A primary goal of 2012 is going to be to create that sort of space in my life, a Moveable Pasture that will allow me to maintain the necessary energy and creativity to survive all of the challenges. I want to create or build relationships where I can relax and be honest, where there is healthy learning and growth. Basically, I want to be part of a self-shepherded flock of educators who are in a Moveable Pasture that will support and nourish us as we travel this crazy road.
I believe that we need to connect with other teachers who are honest about the stress of this work and yet still are passionate about providing the best for our students every day.