Marketing guru Seth Godin describes a linchpin as “the essential element, the person who holds part of the organization together. Without the linchpin, according to Godin, "the thing falls apart.”
In our world of public education, our “thing” would fall apart without our linchpins, our human element – the teachers, principals, support staff, bus drivers, parents/guardians and custodians who show our learners they matter each and every day.
Regardless of technology and the use of a device in a classroom, the human element – a learning facilitator and others – must remain the linchpin of public education.
Think back to your favorite teacher and the impact he or she had on you during your education. Can you remember the earliest set of eyes that looked at you, while you were probably holding a parent’s hand, and introduced himself or herself as your teacher? There was magic in those eyes, in that smile, in that introduction. That magic will never die or be replaced by a machine.
Sadly, that magic is maligned today, whether through teacher-bashing, accountability measures, evaluations based on a testing window in April (translation: easy assessment) and the common use of “failure” in dialogue about public education.
Despite this, the magic that is in those teachers’ eyes - and in the relationships they form with learners – continues to survive. I am confident that the human element, the linchpin factor, the relationships between learners and learning facilitators will survive the current attempts to make education an enterprise at any cost.
If you’re a basketball fan, you may have heard about legendary UNC Coach Dean Smith’s “point to the passer” concept, where players point in acknowledgement to their teammates who passed them the ball and enabled them to make a basket and score. Pointing to the passer went viral, and fans and other players have adopted it over the years.
Imagine what would happen if we, as a society, started pointing to the passer in public education … pointing the public’s perception of education toward the positive.
I’ll start by pointing to Mr. St. Clair, my 6th grade teacher. Thanks, Mr. St. Clair, for a great year of assists, lessons and care that you showed me.
Without the linchpin, the thing falls apart, as Seth Godin wrote. Without our human element, education would not be nearly as magical as we remember.
Let’s bring back the magic that began when we were five-year-old eager learners.
Who do you need to point to as the "passer" in your education? Please share …