Dominoes Episode Six

Charley wanted to use Lynn’s experience in pushing the first domino as a learning experience in the process for making a difference.

”Today I want to dissect Lynn’s experience with the mentor program imitative to begin showing you what it takes to make a difference. Actually you began the process on our last call. When you selected the mentor program as your test case, each of you had stories to tell about why students needed mentors. I call this STORY FRAMING. You can describe a problem in abstract terms, but that won’t get attention. What you need to do is describe the problem in examples of real situations.”

“Next, you need to describe what you propose to do. When you do this, avoid over complicating your idea. Lynn used experience with one successful mentor to start the development of what the mentor program might be. What she also did was leave room for others to contribute their ideas as well. We call this SCAFFOLDING.”

“In the process of inviting others to contribute, you are also building a BELIEVER’S NETWORK. It’s rare that one person can alone create change. You need the power of others. Using our domino analogy, that’s when the other dominoes begin to fall. When Lynn had other faculty enter the room in support of her proposal, she was showing the President that others had contributed to this idea.”

“Now think of how the idea was presented. There were no power points or traditional ways of presenting an idea. Recall she had students rising from their seats and giving short two-minute stories of the need for and the value of mentoring. Power point presentations are easily forgotten, but how long do you think the President will remember the pop-up presentations? We call these VALUE SHAPING EVENTS.”

“While everything that Lynn did was impressive and inspirational, it’s likely that the President would have long forgotten about his promise to push for the mentoring initiative after a while. What Lynn did to sustain his attention was gutsy, and maybe illegal! She recorded the presentation so it could be shared with the Trustees. You might think of this as blackmail, but it was probably necessary. You’ll be surprised how tactics like this have worked to bring about some of the most positive changes in our society. We call this SUSTAINED ACTION. It’s often the little battles that ultimately decide victory after the big battle is won.”

“One more thing, the reason I asked you to try out this change experiment is what I call DISCOVERY LEARNING. Do you think the people who do the domino chain reactions succeed on their first try? They learn from failing, reflecting on these failures, and trying again. I’m glad that Lynn was successful, but I’m also glad that the rest of you did not. What you learned from this experience will set the tone for what we will be doing this semester.”

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“All genuine learning is active, not passive. It involves the use of the mind, not just the memory. It is a process of discovery, in which the student is the main agent, not the teacher.” – Mortimer Adler (Philosopher & Educator)

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