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The Lasting Influence of Will Richardson

February 7, 2014

If you spent this morning at Will Richardson‘s session, “Old School to Bold School: Modern Learning in a Changing World,” you may be feeling a bit unsettled in your views of education.  This is a good thing. Perhaps you are thinking that he nailed some of the counter-cultural impulses you’ve felt now and then as an educator who means to do well by his or her kids.  Trust that.

Will Richardson was one of my first teachers as I began to understand the shifts happening in education today.  He taught me about RSS feeds in a poster session at ISTE in 2006. He instructed me in how to try out new tools online in his book (the only one available at the time) on Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts at about the same time. I began experimenting with all three, and I saw their effect on my students. They were excited, scared, intrigued, engaged.  I cornered him at a kick-off session for Powerful Learning Practice and asked him how he was able to draw real readers to his blog.  He pushed me to read Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus and to challenge my students to use blogging to transparently document their learning. Once when I arranged for a number of my colleagues to attend one of Will’s presentations, one of my younger co-workers, who reacted strongly in the negative to the ways Will pushed this young teacher to question education, decided I was a revolutionary disguised as an every-day teacher in his midst.  I figured I was on the right track.

Will Richardson cares deeply about education and wants others to crack it open and pursue all it can be. He asks us the hard questions: Why School? If he doesn’t make you question what you do, he figures he hasn’t done his job.

Will Richardson teaches us to think about what matters — exactly as we hope to do for the students who walk into our classes every day.

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