Saturday, September 6, 2008

Flanking the Centurions

I can't remember my first lessons about the Roman centurions. I don't recall the grade or the teacher. I have no idea why I carry a clear imprint of these ancient that closely resembles this award-winning image from Wikimedia Commons. Admittedly, I am not a history scholar. In fact, my current understandings about centurions are quite likely shaped by my schooling, old movies and my husband, the history buff. As I began thinking about a name for my blog voice, however, a synapse of stilled dendrites and axons rattled my dormant "centurion schema." After a bit of cursory fact-checking, my uncontested choice for a blogspot title was "The 21st Century Centurion." You see, on some level, I know we need a militia of highly skilled educators to lead the learning in the 21st century. I am compelled by the urgent need to energize, empower and mobilize a vast corps of courageous, innovative educators who will redefine teaching and learning for the 21st Century. Having worked in technology professional development for years, I'm able to recognize that the "season" for transformation is upon us now--in the present--today. All things past have come together - to NOW. A symphony of knowledge, tools, resources, conditions, policies, societal needs, educational crises, and the pulse of the human condition is at full crescendo. After 25 years of change vibrations, beginning with a Nation at Risk in 1983, the call for a learning revolution resonates at ear-splitting intensity. The shrill cry for change will certainly shatter the fragile remains of traditional, monolithic schools. Our students hang in the balance trusting society to rally and rebuild them. The good news is an army of 21st century "education centurions" is forming.

Having said all of that, I confess that this centurion paused before charging into the edublogosphere. It is truthful to say that she looked over the blog horizon, saw the army of naysayers, and considered a quick retreat. It is intimidating to make one's self vulnerable to arrows of criticism from the bows of colleagues. Yet, over the years, I have learned to take blows from traditionalists without negative emotion. Uncharacteristically, however, I have silently followed and learned and grown from the courageous lead of edubloggers who overcame fears and wounds to lead the net-charge for school reform. I've long been inspired by the web queen, Kathy Schrock and the flat world princess Vicki Davis. I've been energized by the passion of Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, the sheer volume of Wes Fryer's outstanding contributions, the humor and wisdom of Christa Allen, the selfless and brilliant insights of Terry Freedman, the faithfulness of Lisa Durff, the erudite rants of Gary Stager and the tireless and amazing efforts of gifted leaders including Dean Shareski, Lucy Gray, Lisa Thurrman, Scott Floyd and Bud Hunt. There are so many others. I owe so much to so many.

How can one sit on the sideline once the mission is clear? How can one "be still" when walls are crumbling and students must be served? How does an educator say "no" when colleagues are assembling to reform our profession? Here's the answer to all three questions. We will not be still. The educators will rally. They'll enlist. They'll disrupt, conquer and rebuild our schools for the 21st century. I am certain of this. Toward this end, I join the ranks of web centurions that marched before me and paved my way in the blogosphere. Thank you for your leadership.


  1. You are my new best friend! Thanks for the mention! I'm honored to be included...there is hope for the consummate "class clown"!

  2. Unfortunately, I disagree. There are more educators not integrating technology and scoffing at it, than those integrating. I find myself suddenly thrust into such an environment unwillingly. Don't know how long I will last.....

  3. Wow, Beth! Wow! You are now in my Google reader on my "hot" list (the small secret list I have of people I read the moment they post.)

    You will also be featured on my blog in the morning as a "newcomer" to watch -- it is so funny to call you a newcomer but in many ways -- jumping in and trying something new is a testament to your longevity and ability to innovate through the years.

    I am so honored to know you and consider you a trusted advisor. Thank you! Thank you for blogging - now I can take you with me!

  4. A fantastic post - just the way I feel. How can we bring along those nay-sayers you mention? How can we change the paradigm of teaching so the students and the teachers have time to become 21st Century Centurions?

  5. Hi there, just popped by to wish you good luck with your blogging, after having seen a tweet by @coolcatteacher.

  6. Thx for kind words, Elizabeth. For some reason, I had assumed you've been blogging forever. Regarding the "mission" as you put it, there is a very apt quotation from Jewish religious literature:

    "The work is not yours to complete, but neither are you free to desist from taking part in it".

    Welcome aboard!

  7. Beth - I'm honored to be included and I'm looking forward to reading your posts. BTW - Love the blog name.

    I and agree with you with regards to the question "How can we be still?". Enthusiasm is contagious. If we all continue to model using 21st Century learning skills with educators and students, the lurkers will enlist. It's already happening.

    It's very exciting.

  8. Great article Beth! The issue at hand is that there are so many of the thinking, this is the way it worked before, it will work now. I look forward to you future posts.

  9. Beth, I am honored to even be listed with these folks but even more so in a post on your blog. I have enjoyed following you on Twitter, and now the blog will give you the much needed 140+ characters to get it all out. ;)

    Keep the faith, and fight the good fight. We cannot make progress alone. If it is one person at a time, then so be it. Thanks for joining in, and thanks for bringing me into your conversation.