flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

I recently wrote a creative post wondering about leadership. It occurred to me that there is always another side to things. So here is a second instalment …

As the siren blew for half time, Thom walked off the ground with his head down feeling a little despondent. Although he had held his man well for much of the game, in time on he’d gotten away, managing to kick two goals to give the opposition a three goal buffer. To Thom, it didn’t matter what had unfolded throughout. The reality was that the team was behind and it was his man who had done the damage.
Before he had gotten a few steps, three of his team mates had b-lined to him. Encouraging him to keep his head high. The game was not lost. They were both 50/50 decisions. As he took a few more steps, a few more players ran past. Reminding him to stay focused on the game ahead. What was done was done. The game was to be played out in the future.
With most of the players now together, Captain brought the team together to speak with them before going into the rooms. This is a team game, he explained, it is only by playing together that the game will be won. Don’t be sucked in by the glimmer of brilliance. The players all walked off as one.
Coach brought the team together. He explained the situation as he saw it. An even game with a half to play, the opposition had a small lead. He said that none of that really mattered though. That was done. The focus now needed to be on the second half.
In regards to meaningful statistics, coach applauded the contested ball and efficiency of use. This is what mattered. He also pointed out that the game could not be locked down for four quarters, so when it eventually opened up, whether it be because the opposition tires or things change, everyone needs to be ready to adapt.
He closed by touching on the lapse in time on. To blame this on the failure of one person was to miss the point. This was a lack of discipline from the team. The reality was and is, an opposition player should not be able to break the lines. When the opposition was able to play on and run straight through the centre, not once, but twice, it put undue pressure on the forward line. Everyone has their part to play and as a team we need to work together. Trust in yourself, but even more so, trust in each other.
The players all split off to their smaller groups to speak with their assistants. Whereas Thom had doubted his place in the team, the coach had reinstated his faith. Again the message was loud and clear. The Assistant spoke about sticking to the structures, but also having enough intuition that when the situation required to work collaboratively as a unit to resolve it. For it is fine to have coaches supporting from above, but it is the players on the ground who actually play the game.
Thom walked back out onto the ground ready to trust once again and do everything possible for others to trust him also.

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Whenever I go to ICT conferences there are always companies offering the opportunity to gain complete control over student computers, complete control over their activities, seemingly complete control over their lives. Maybe that is a little bit of an exaggeration, but it does beg the question, when does the responsibility to create a safe and meaningful learning environment crossover to being a situation of control and domination?
I have taught in many schools and been privy to many systems of control, from using software to hijack a student’s screen at any one time, to having open access to the student’s network drives, to using knowledge of passwords to monitor emails, to doing random spot checks of student laptops. Each method comes back to one thing, the notion that we can be watched anywhere, anytime. It reminds me of Michel Foucault’s metaphor of the panoptican in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison to describe modern society. As Paul Oliver describes, “The principle of the Panopticon was that prisoners could be observed night and day, without realizing that they were being observed.” This sort of approach creates a culture of fear and surveillance, but does it have to be that way?
Now I am not saying that schools shouldn’t have have points of control and surveillance, but in setting the scene this way, what are we really teaching the student? Often when you ask students why they can’t listen to music, why they aren’t allowed movies on their laptops, why they shouldn’t have various games or software installed, there is little discussion of why. Take music for example, other than being a distraction from learning (at times), often the argument is made that the music is illegal. It is then left up to the student to prove that it is not. 
The problem with this situation is that there is little discussion about the consequences associated with downloading illegal music, let alone what other avenues there maybe to listen to and download legal music, such as Soundcloud and radio web applications. The big question is that is forgotten in such situations is what are we teaching students about copy write? Are we taking advantage of the teaching moments? Associated with this, what happens when things change? For example John Birmingham’s article on Game of Thrones for a fantastic critique of the torrent culture, how often do we have such conversations? In the end, we ‘ban’ putting music on their laptops, so they keep it on a portable hard drive or the more savvy students keep it in the cloud. The same can be said about publishing images online. In refusing to discuss these matters, we resort to the ‘no’ just because, instead of using the flowchart from Common Sense Media to develop a dialogue where we can discuss why and develop a better appreciation of technology and the 21st century.

So how do you monitor your student’s activities? Are you creating a culture of fear or a culture of learning? Do you ban or embrace the power of social media? The question that we need to consider is whether we are setting ourselves and our students up for failure, where nothing is ever learnt, but everything is lost.

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