Why Creative Tension?

The gap between vision and current reality is also a source of energy. If there were no gap, there would be no need for any action to move towards the vision. We call this gap creative tension.

Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline

I have had this quote hanging on my office wall for years but during the past year it has become much more meaningful to me. More meaningful because the gap between the vision that I have for schools and the current reality seems enormous. This large gap has created a sense of urgency for me that continues to build.  It’s extremely exciting and I’m now on a  personal and professional mission to provide the type of  leadership that is necessary to move schools into the future. Fortunately or unfortunately, according to John Legend in If You’re Out There, “the future started yesterday and we’re already late”.

Myvision for schools is one in which:

  • teachers and students seamlessly use technology in the teaching and learning process. 
  • students are engaged in meaningful and relevent learning experiences using technology just as scientists, engineers, mathematicians, artists, social scientists, etc.
  • teachers and students have access to resources from all over the world. 
  • individuals  are not constrained by the curriculum and have the opportunity to explore areas of study about which they are passionate.
  • students are authors, publishers, creators of knowledge, collaborators, researchers and contributors.

This creative tension has me hungry to seek out ways  to close the gap and this blog provides me with a venue to reflect, share ideas and promote discussions with colleagues and peers who share a common interest. I believe that this will help me grow professionally so that I can provide the type of leadership that our students deserve. Let’s use this energy to start closing the gap. The mission begins!

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8 thoughts on “Why Creative Tension?

  1. Welcome to the edublogosphere! It is a weird place at times, but each person makes their own niche and leaves their own mark.

    It is always great to have members of admin teams sharing the vision of the new schools.

    Working toward changes is a long an arduous journey, but the more administrators are on board the faster we can get there.

  2. Thank you for including me – this is indeed a discussion we simply must engage in when it comes to approaching learning and designing the best in schools. This weekend at our strategic planning session I asked the group to envision our school in 2042 and the feedback was most interesting. One member envisioned that our school would “take place” over the span of the globe, and would involve collaboration and inquiry within a framework that demanded multiple perspectives, languages and … fully embedded and “enabled” with technology that was real time, synchronous and asynchronous in mode, and multi-sensory. The challenge is here, the blueprint is in process. Let’s add to the discussion on how to get there!

  3. I like your point. We know that we have to change, so how do we do it? There are many that still need to be convinced but I believe that we are getting to a tipping point very soon. Even some of the staunchest non-believers are starting to accept the inevitable. I think the blueprint that will look much different than those that we are used to and that it’s going to be fun making it happen.

  4. I’m not an administrator, so if my comments should not be included, please let me know. I teach media studies classes at an urban high school just west of Detroit, Michigan. I am also the chair for the communication-technology department. We do have some amazing technology, but one of the many challenges we are trying to address is the digital divide…or the “haves” and the “have nots.” My department, which also includes many technology classes has decided we now need to run a competency test in order to properly place students in computer classes. The lack of knowledge from those w/o technology in their homes is astounding. I think there is an assumption on the part of our administration (which we just recently successfully addressed) that because students know how to send texts, or use Facebook,and Myspace, that they also know how to communicate via email, send emails with attachments, etc. This is simply not the case. We want to advance the skills that we teach in our technology classes, but with students coming into our school so bereft of basic skills, we are not sure how that will be accomplished.

  5. First off, I love the quote you chose for your blog and I love the
    direction your blog is taking and I am excited about the dialogue that
    will inevitably ensue 🙂 Without a clear vision, no creative tension exists and therefore no accomplishments/developments can be made and
    accomplishments/change are needed in academia since little has fundamentally or authentically changed.

    But why is change feared? I do believe we (as educators) do lip-service to tech inclusion and other aspects of integration and athentic assessment do to the fact that educators (not all, but enough) are against change because they lose power with change (ie. feel insecure until mastery is reached). It is unfortunate that that occurs and that it occurs so consistently in education where the loudest voices against change tend to be tenured/veteran teachers who have the most say.

    What can we do to combat this negativity? I guess what I think is all people in education should realize is that we
    are in the business of learning and therefore we need to know, as those
    individuals guiding the learning, that learning is an ongoing experience
    that focuses (and forces) us (as educators) and students to constantly
    change and move outside of our learned knowledge base/ knowledge comfort zone. If you look at education in that model, all should be in different stages of mastery learning (on any given topic/skill) and to state that an individual ‘is done’ with learning is to state that that individual is no longer a viable or needed entity in the new learner paradigm of education.

    I agree with Chris’ comments about what school could/would be like in
    2042…all that is suggested certainly is in the realm of possibility
    (probably more so in overseas or private schools which can and do fire
    those who are against change) and I certainly hope that those
    achievements are made since all of the suggestions would benefit student learning and certainly will have real world applications 🙂 But there are other aspects of the school climate/the ‘system’ that need to be addressed before one can move a school (system) out of the dark ages.

    Personally, I strongly believe that to encourage change in each school
    and in all districts we need to support system like Obama’s incentive plan which includes some type of merit-based system to validate financially (or by other means) teachers and adminstrators who create true learning environments. I am also for the remove of tenure for teachers and adminstrators. I only mentioned the last bit in this paragraph because too many people do not want change. They do not want things to move forward and they are not ‘learners'(in thought or deed) and I feel they are far too powerful on a global and local scale (in educational institutions). If these detractors were removed and innovative teaching recognized (fiscally and through other means) true change would happen at a move rapid rate and teachers and adminstrators would see change as a positive (something new to learn to help the learners in their classrooms) instead of a negative.
    Anyway…just a few of my thoughts 🙂

  6. Blair, I found your blog while surfing to see what has been written lately on creative tension, and you led me to define my own creative tension relative to education. Thank you! The definition process and strategic planning to close the gap has relevance for individuals and organizations alike, so this falls directly into my points of emphasis at Flawless Execution. ttp://craigalan.wordpress.com

    Post if you’d like-I won’t re-create here.

    A couple of key points:
    Per the pundits (cool word for “people smarter and more famous than me”) managing creative tension requires clearly defining current reality, then painting a compelling picture of the desired future. It is simpler for an individual than it is organizationally, as personal relevance is easier to establish. And that’s where most organizations fail—they don’t reach Everyman with a compelling message for either the current reality or the desired future. No reason to change.

    I’m looking forward to taking my time looking through your thoughts-thank you again!

  7. I Think that this ‘creative tension’ concept is a good starting point for us to change in the world. so, The key success point of ‘creative tension’ is to set vision in appropriate level with a consensus by communication message.

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