I have had the good fortune to spend time this last week with one of the world’s foremost digital education specialists. Steve Wheeler is someone who has been at the forefront of educational innovation for over a decade now, and he spent last week and this week at AUT working with colleagues in my school.
The highlight of his visit so far, for me at least, was a study day that we held over the weekend to look at 21st first century education. We spent the morning at a new school that has embraced the idea flexible learning environments (FLEs). Teaching at my university is often anything but flexible, and classrooms, curricula, and teaching and learning practices often look more rigid the fluid. So it was an amazing experience to spend the day with 30-or-so educators who were all passionate about innovation and creativity and thinking differently about that teaching practice.
One of the many things I reflected on was how much energy was created on the day. Everyone, it seemed, was open to the idea of change: accepted uncertainty and unpredictability of future education as given, and embrace the idea that tomorrow might be very different to today. There was no sense at any time during the day that we would have to justify our radical opinions, or explain ourselves to people who, through ignorance, apathy or fear, had long since given up challenging themselves to think about the future.
In many ways this reminded me of my experience with the CPN. Much of my working life is spent with people who would much rather keep things just the same as they are. These people often resist disruption, and find reasons to delay facing up to the inevitable. If you are a person who tries to be creative and imaginative, working with people like this can be dispiriting, so it’s important sometimes to spend time with people who just “get it”, and don’t expect to be allowed to sit back and have the future handed to them.
Some might say that spending time with people who already embrace change is akin to pushing at an open door. Others might argue you that we should use our creative energies to kick against those voices of conformity, and engage in frontline disputes with those who simply refuse to embrace change. And certainly both of these are fair arguments. But there is also a time and place for feeding your own creativity and nurturing those instincts that are going to be so important tomorrow if you are going to carry on massaging and cajoling colleagues to change, or to take the good fight to those who simply will not move.
One of the ways that new approaches to physiotherapy will emerge will be for creative and imaginative people to find ways to think otherwise about their practice. And so finding spaces where these people can express themselves freely and fully, and have their creativity challenged and developed will be vital for the future the profession.
So I hope you all can find space in the next few weeks to have even the smallest conversation with someone who appreciates your work, celebrates your creativity, and challenges you to push further.