Think about the last time you took a risk. Did you do a mental inventory of “what’s the worse that could happen?”
If I take this new job and it’s a bust, the worst that could happen is…..
I end up living in my in-laws basement in Scarsdale and working 10-6 at their local Walgreens. (not half-bad).
That worst case scenario – it’s your safety net. It’s what allows you to take a risk knowing that even if you fail, you’ll be able to live with the result. Instead of crashing to the ground, you’ll end up far from the highwire, but unhurt (just embarrassed).
Not all safety nets are created equal. There’s an undeniable inequity in safety nets depending on socio-economic factors, family support, previous performance or accomplishments. The list goes on and on.
So as we are thinking about how to help students become world changers, consider what is necessary to allow them to take risk (ASSUMPTION ALERT: Changing the world will require taking risks).
There are some things in your control. For example when a student takes a risk in your class and answers a question that he or she might get wrong, what worst case scenario is that student imaging? What can you do to make that worst case scenario not so bad?
For yourself, think about what safety nets do you need to take risks necessary to transform teaching and learning? (ASSUMPTION ALERT: Changing education will require risks) Do you need to discuss the risk with an administrator first and alert him or her to the fact you are trying something new? Do you need a community of practitioners to bounce new ideas off of? Whatever you need, work to put it in place.
This doesn’t mean taking the risk out of risk. Walking a highwire always has the possibility of failure, but the safety net means that you if you fall, you can bounce back.