I came across an interesting Thomas Jefferson quote in Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus today.

Here it is:

(Original Image:  Half Mast by Alosh Bennett, licensed Creative Commons Attribution)

Jefferson’s thinking here really resonates with me.  When I give ideas away—to the readers of the Radical, to the teachers that I work with on my professional learning team, to the teachers who follow my digital professional development wiki—-it doesn’t make me intellectually weaker.

In fact, when I share my ideas with others, everyone sees more clearly.

That’s why collaboration and intellectual philanthropy—whether it happens online or in our school buildings makes so much sense.  When we allow walls to keep us divided, everyone suffers.

Does this make any sense?

And if so, what lessons can educators—and educational policymakers—learn from Jefferson’s thinking?

Should we be designing compensation and evaluation systems that incentivize collaborative thought and shared reflection on practice?  Should we be restructuring teacher preparation and professional development models, centering new work around sharing between practitioners?

How would (should?) instructional practices and student assessments change if we believed that sharing is essential for developing the collective intelligence of organizations and communities?

Just thinking out loud here….Not sure I have any real answers.



Share this post: