“Some people use statistics (data) like a drunk uses a lamppost. For support, rather than illumination.” Andrew Lang.
— Dean Shareski (@shareski) July 24, 2014
Accountability is one of those #edu-trendy words educators can’t get enough of. The word is solid and reassuring (I myself had a brief torrid affair with the word). It’s as if…simply using the word is magic and students will “Ta Da!” do “their” work when we simply announce what they are accountable for.
The reasoning behind the word goes something like this: students do not always apply themselves to meet their full potential. We as adults need to make good choices for them and as such make sure they get their work done. Phrases such as “we need to hold kids accountable” and “students need to be held accountable,” pop up like earthworms after a summer deluge. Even let’s “plan for accountability” gets tossed out as if it’s a new safety feature to add into car manufacturing.
A couple of weeks ago I bought a Fitbit. Some Fitbit wearing peeps explained to me how the wireless wristband helped them stay on track to meet their fitness goals. A wireless wristband, really?…ok…I’ll try anything in the name of fitness and I was searching for new inspiration towards meeting my fitness goals. I am still a Fitbit novice but wearing the wristband thus far has provided me with an invigorated fitness plan. The data I access empowers me to hold myself accountable; I set a goal for myself and Fitbit tracks my progress for me. When I view the data it allows me to quickly compare it to my long-term goals. I can share my data with fellow Fitbit-ers and this offers me another layer of inspiration to get moving. In other words, I can ask for support and encouragement towards holding myself accountable. The data is a gentle reminder of how my actions in the present align to my long-term goals I have set for myself. This subtle shift in my awareness makes me feel empowered to stick to my goal.
While I am not suggesting every student needs a Fitbit-like dashboard of data, wearing my Fitbit over the last couple of weeks made me wonder:
How might we equip and inspire each and every one of our students to feel accountable to their own goals and dreams?
How might we find and design tools, strategies and conditions that empower our students to be inspired to be accountable to themselves?
How might we create environments where our students feel ownership, agency, autonomy and inspiration?
In my next post I hope to outline some practical considerations for developing and nurturing agency in the classroom. And…I say that to hold myself accountable to my goal to blog on a regular basis.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some steps to do…