This blog post is part of the #blimage (blog-from-image) challenge recently set by Steve Wheeler and Amy Burvall. You can learn more about it on this video https://youtu.be/-7K8cA-Iub8.
I didn’t build this bridge.
Neither did lots of people in Sydney.
Many of the people who drive, walk, cycle, train or bus their way over it every day didn’t have anything directly to do with the construction of such an integral piece of infrastructure that we now take it for granted and quake in fear when someone breaks down halfway along during peak hour. The queues are ridiculous.
When I look at this picture it reminds me that although I was not part of the original building of the structure, I am part of its purpose. I am integral to its survival, by paying my way across and paying my taxes to maintain it. I forget this most of the time, especially in heavy traffic, but I sustain it and it sustains me.
The same thing is true of us as professionals. Sometimes we feel we are integral to the system, other times we do not. Sometimes our professional aspirations and goals align with the system or our school, whilst at other times we are floating in a sea of doubt. The tensions that exist have been explored by many people under the term holonomy (thanks @debsnet).
There are several aspects to holonomy and many papers for you to read, but put simply holonomy is the recognition that we are both an individual professional and also part of a collective movement. And that’s OK. At times we will need to follow our individual paths but at others we need to forego our personal goals for the sake of the group. We will all move in different ways and at different rates, but we are all part of building the bridge.
When choosing professional learning to engage with, for example, I believe it is critical to think about why you are doing that particular type of PL. Who will it serve? How will you embed it in your practice and the practice of others? Is it for your betterment or will it have a wider impact? We can’t be expected to always be a slave to the will of the group but at the same time we shouldn’t be single-minded individualists when so much of what we do depends on the time, energy and skill of others.
When I look at that image, I am reminded that in education we have a shared purpose and we all have something to contribute to its evolution and effectiveness.