All Articles Education Superintendents: Are you leading or watching?

Superintendents: Are you leading or watching?

3 min read


Someone recently asked me: “What would prompt a superintendent to move his district to a 1:1 computer environment?” For me the answer is easy. The challenge comes with the multiple levels of deep systemic changes needed to fully realize the potential of embedding technology into learning.

Reality: Wake up Rip Van Winkle!

The world has evolved, but educational systems as a whole have not. The way we think has changed, relationships are being redefined, and creativity and imagination are crucial skill sets needed to compete and contribute in the 21st century. There are “dots” of innovative schools globally, but they are isolated and not connected. The urgency for change is now and the stakes are high.

The current educational system is institutionalized, grounded in industrial era, factory-model system thinking. The model is rigid, unforgiving and was initially designed 100 years ago for “shifting and sorting.” Children who did not meet “specs” fell into special education or talented and gifted programs. The design is further flawed today by the mandate that ALL kids must pass and that “no child is to be left behind.”

The rocket is blasting off, are you the pilot or in the afterburner?

We are experiencing change as we never have before. Technology is accelerating the change process. The potential is unlimited for increased academic achievement and the creation of knowledge by learners — students and teachers — who are equipped with digital mobile devices, connected to the Internet, utilizing Web 2.0 tools and social media. With these tools and a skilled teacher, learning can be individualized and no longer be confined to the “silo” classroom or bound by time.

A powerful synchronicity emerges as learners connect locally, regionally, nationally and globally. Generating a great synergy, this is the dawn of a new day and the next step in the evolution of mankind. It is both exciting and scary.

Superintendents: Do you have the courage and conviction to lead the charge?

John C. Carver is committed to transforming teaching and learning. As superintendent for Van Meter Community School District in Iowa, he led efforts that resulted in providing laptop computers to students in grades 6-12, computer labs for students in K -5, and through a partnership with Rockwell-Collins, acquired a virtual reality capacity. John recently was selected to lead the Howard-Winneshiek Community School District — a rural district of 428 square miles with 1,300 students in grades K-12. The new challenge is to take the lessons learned and apply them to transform teaching and learning in the region. You can follow the adventure on Twitter at #2020HowardWinn.