Bud the Teacher asks, How do we continue to be active learners?

I am looking forward to meeting Bud the Teacher tomorrow.  I listen to his podcast and read his blog.  He is in a new job with the district working on technology district wide.  Our conversation will be a chance for me to learn his perspective about what we’re doing well in the technology realm and what we can do more, better or different.

I also am interested in discussing a point that Bud made on his most recent podcast.  I’m paraphrasing the question he posed: How does a person in a decision making role maintain an active learning approach as he/she goes about his/her work?  Bud points out that it is easy for a person in a decision making role to fall into the trap of "I’m supposed to know all the answers."  The notion of having all the answers is absurd, of course.  But, the pressure is there.

I know that I feel this pressure as a candidate for school board.  It is not uncommon for people to ask me, "What’s your position on…"  By definition if you’ve taken a position you’ve ended the learning process.  That may be appropriate in some instances but in most cases it’s not.

Now, I do think it’s reasonable for people to expect someone seeking public office to have opinions.  It’s reasonable to expect a candidate to have thought through issues and reached some conclusions.  But we all know that people in decision making roles, including public officials, will face new issues.

That’s why I also think it’s important to ask people seeking public office for more than their positions.  I believe that we also should expect people seeking public office – or in other decision making roles – to have developed a process or discipline for learning. 

Here is a first draft of questions we might want to pose to candidates for office (I will try to blog about this in the future):

– How do you go about learning about an issue before you make a decision?  Whose counsel do you seek and why?

– What values do you use to filter information?  How do you account for other’s points of view?

– What criteria do you use to make judgments?  How do you balance competing criteria?

I’m not suggesting that we want people in decision making roles to be navel gazers.  But I do expect people who make public decisions to strive to be active learners – and not know it alls.

Sometimes easier said than done.

One last thought that Bud’s question raised in my mind.  Or, perhaps, another question.  What can we do to help people in decision making roles be active learners rather than just get angry when they hold positions different than our own?

Thanks Bud and I look forward to meeting you tomorrow.

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One Response to “Bud the Teacher asks, How do we continue to be active learners?”

  1. Brad Jolly Says:

    Bud Hunt has indeed provided a useful resource on his blog. For example, one of his posts in the spring of 2006 exposed a truly shameful waste of money spent on technology in the SVVSD.
    In your post, you assert, “By definition if you’ve taken a position you’ve ended the learning process.” What definition of taking a position necessitates ending the learning process? One can take a position and still keep learning about the topic; further learning may then reinforce, sharpen, broaden, alter or even reverse the position.
    For example, you have taken the position that, “By definition if you’ve taken a position you’ve ended the learning process.” I’m willing to bet that you haven’t ended learning about this and may even consider modifying your position. Surely you of all people have not closed your mind to this possibility. Open-mindedness is one of your (many) strengths, amigo!

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