Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Polish painting of Ash Wednesday I found on Wikipedia.
Polish painting of Ash Wednesday I found on Wikipedia.

Ash Wednesday. That slightly strange day in the middle of the church calendar that starts the preparation for Easter. A year ago, the palm crosses used to remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem were burned and their ashes are today used to mark the sign of the cross on the foreheads of believers.

For me the last year has been one of burning what I once thought was good – turning it into ash – so that something new can come from it.

While much of the journey took place in 2015, it all started with a wise observation from Mark Anderson (@ICTEvangelist) at the Google Teacher Academy in October 2014.

My team had been working on our prototype: our big idea for something that might change the world of education. It was an exciting couple of days, meeting and working with some fantastic educational thinkers and innovators. Right in the middle of it, Mark looked at our idea and said that it looks like we had thought of a solution and were now trying to fit it into a problem.

Have you ever had one of those moments when the camera zooms in on you and you realise something significant has happened. A sudden epiphany. A moment of clarity that reveals all along where you had been going wrong. This was one of those moments. I knew it was significant. I knew I should do something about it. But in the heady fervour of the Google Teacher Academy, I couldn’t quite work out what it was.

Maybe I would work it out when I got home? Or back to school – when I was back to normality? Or maybe during the next break – at Christmas perhaps?

No. Not me. It took me a full year to realise what Mark had put his finger on.

The thing is, Mark hadn’t only described the prototype my team had been working on. He had described my whole life. It was me. I thought I was an educational solution and I spent my time busily structuring and controlling the problem so that I solved it.

In school leadership I often get fed up of others only ever moaning about problems. So in my desire to be solution-focused, I had begun limiting the problems so that my current set of skills and abilities could meet it.

Being solution-focused is great, but if it makes you blind to the scope of the problem it is very dangerous. That’s true in all walks of life and particularly I have discovered that the hard way in education over the last year. And that’s what much of my #lentblog is going to explore.

Image courtsey of: (creative commons)

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