Openings for Possibilities

Amy Collier wrote a piece about “Not-Yetness” (posted at Keep Learning) on her blog The Red Pincushion on April 9. As has been the typical pattern, I bookmarked the article to read later when I have more time (because I was not yet ready?). However, Matt’s post on Monday (“However, while everyone has strengths, we also have not-yet strengths.”) sent me to the article and forced me to read what Collier had to say about not-yetness.

Essentially, Collier and Ross combined Veletsianos’ ideas about emerging technologies being “not fully understood, and not fully researched” with Gough’s ideas about emergence which “is allowing new ideas, new methodologies, new findings, new ways of learning, new ways of doing, and new synergies to emerge and to have those things continue to feed back into more emergence.” Therefore, “Emergence is a good thing. For us, not-yetness is the space that allows for emergence. Not-yetness is not satisfying every condition, not fully understanding something, not check-listing everything, not tidying everything, not trying to solve every problem.” Collier provides a very appropriate example of how this concept works with two videos of her child playing with Legos (check them out).

This idea has started a conversation in my head. First, as with the Legos, I’m wondering how often I stifle my students’ emergence by being too prescriptive with the assignments and tasks. Have I taken the joy out of learning by making my students follow my prescribed pattern? How nice would it be to see the excitement of learning on the faces of my students (much like that of Vaughn in the second video)?

The second idea focuses on the idea of not-yetness. As Matt mentioned, we all have some not-yet strengths. My top strengths include achiever in the executive category and input, intellection, learner and strategic in the strategic thinking category. As you might guess from these strengths, the qualities of not-yetness are not something that I inherently embrace. I want every condition satisfied, every item understood, every checkbox checked, every item tidied, and every problem solved. However, I am not someone who is set in my ways. I embrace change, not for the sake of change, but in the hope that it provides something better. I think that I am drawn more to the idea of emergence – that if we explore options and leave openings for possibilities, good things will emerge. I’m an optimist in that regard. I don’t automatically think about the negative – the things that could go wrong, the traditions that will be lost, the difficulty in trying and learning new things. Instead, I think about the possibilities – the students that could be helped, the motivation and engagement that might be peaked, the excitement that stems from learning something new. And if it doesn’t work out? Then I guess it was not yet the time.

What are your thoughts? What are some of the possibilities that might emerge from embracing an attitude of not-yetness?

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One comment

  1. This reminds me a lot of the idea of mindset (starting with Carol Dweck and picked up by many others). I feel like not-yet is similar to the growth mindset — embracing either of those is to recognize that we don’t have to be perfect all the time. It can be very hard to do!

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