The Opportunity of Uncertainty
Few would argue that across the globe we need to rethink what education looks like, at scale. There are certainly pockets of innovation, but by and large, those embedded in the current system see and feel the tremendous need to create learning environments that are considerably different than what we currently have. While some innovative educators may be inspire and excite us by dreaming up what is possible, most stakeholders in the system are gripped by uncertainty and fear. Such a daunting task of reinventing such complex environments and systems that can enable deep learning for all our youth.
That fear and lack of clarity about the direction forward can be paralyzing. Jonathan Fields’ new book reminds us that “Uncertainty is a signpost that what you’re doing matters, that what you strive to create will not be derivative.” So at the very least, educators should take heart that a large source of the fear comes from the importance of this work. That aside, not letting the uncertainty paralyze you is not something that most people talk about. Fields’ book demonstrates that great work requires decisions and actions, and in fact, research demonstrates that the ability to tolerate ambiguity is directly related to creativity. So, if collectively, we are largely paralyzed by fear, it is likely that we won’t create a critical mass of creativity and innovation need to turn the tide on system transformation.
Therefore, getting comfortable with uncertainty, and critically, taking bold action in light of it, is a critical capacity and skill of all key stakeholders in the current education system—and that includes teachers and parents. Fields’ advocates to spend as much time training in the mindset that allows you to embrace uncertainty as you do training in your actual chosen medium, and to specifically focus on four areas: changes in work flow, daily personal routines, shifts in your working environment, and outlook prompts.
So don’t keep calm and carry on, get excited and make things,
get inspired and try things,
get moving and do things, and
see the opportunity in uncertainty.