fuse16 Summary

What an amazing fuse16 experience! From the DT101 Flashlab to take a lap in design thinking to the core experience partnering with four non-profits in the Atlanta area to the DEEPr sessions at the end to connect more with schools, attendees and coaches alike were inspired and invigorated!

Here is a Storify summary of the conference– so many tweets and retweets occurred, and I tried to capture as much of it as possible.  If you have not attended a fuse conference before, make a note to look for information about fuse17 at http://www.mvifi.org.



A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life–Notes and Ponderings

Summer reading is a mainstay at many schools, and I always enjoy digging in when I have just a bit more time to read and think. One book is never enough, so I take turns reading a chapter a day in different selections. I find that each reading informs another in some way. My stack this summer included several books on assessment, one on research and design, one on leadership, and A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman. In this book, Grazer outlines his curiosity conversations which have inspired him in his personal and professional life. I offer a summary of quotes and thoughts here, and I encourage you to pick up this quick read. You will enjoy Grazer and Fishman’s perspective and conversation-like prose.

“Life isn’t about finding the answers, it’s about asking the questions.”  pg. xv

ME- This fits so seamlessly into what many educators have been asserting that school should be more about problem finding than about problem solving.

“In the well-ordered, obedient classrooms of the Eisenhower era, it [curiosity] was more like an irritant.”  pg. 6

ME- Is curiosity still viewed as in irritant in many classrooms or schools? How Might We design our work and relationships with children– correction, all learners, young and old– so that curiosity is revered and fostered?

“The quality of many ordinary experiences often pivots on curiosity.” pg. 8

ME- So curiosity is a prerequisite for empathy. Or is it synonymous?

“…curiosity has to be harnessed to at least two other key traits. First, the ability to pay attention to the answers to your questions…The second trait is the willingness to act.” pg. 9

ME- This reminds me of some of my other reading on formative assessment. Assessments are not formative by design or intention. They are formative by action that occurs as a result of them. How Might We learn more about quality assessment through the lens of curiosity?

“Curiosity is itself a form of power, and also a form of courage.” pg. 15

ME- I think this may make some uncomfortable as power can have negative connotations. Yet, if you think about curiosity as powerful courage, then this opens doors to how we might avail ourselves to curiosity as a form of momentum in learning.

“The truth is that when I was meeting someone…what I hoped for was in insight, a revelation.” pg. 25

ME- Again, the connection between curiosity and empathy is palpable! Imagine if we were to design school around learners’ curious quests for insights and revelations.

“…you are much more effective asking questions than giving orders.” pg. 28

ME- Woah! Imagine a leadership training course or retreat revolving around that!

“Yes, asking questions builds confidence in your own ideas.” pg. 33

ME- Yes, and asking questions builds confidence in your capacity to devise solutions. How Might We focus our attention on developing learners’ question muscles?

“…storytelling and curiosity are natural allies.” pg. 35

ME- This reminds me of my DT training, where we try in Discovery mode to have users tell stories to gain better insight. Keeps coming back to curiosity = empathy?

“…he completely disrupted my point of view.” pg. 44

ME-This is a poignant statement and alludes to the power of transformation! Asking questions and being curious are the rocket launchers for learning.

Following the idea of disrupting points of view… “Some of this disruptive curiosity relies on instinct…Some of this…relies on routine…Some of this…relies on systematic analysis.” pgs. 55-56

ME-So the sweet spot in learning lies at the intersection of instinct, routine, and systematic analysis? What could that look like?

“We live in a society that is increasingly obsessed with ‘innovation’ and ‘creativity.’…Curiosity is the tool that sparks creativity. Curiosity is the technique that gets to innovation.” pg. 59, 62

ME- Creativity and innovation are not functional constructs without curiosity. I would rather view curiosity not as a tool or technique, but as a habit of mind.

“If you only get the answers you anticipate, you’re not being very curious.” pg. 63

ME- LOVE this! Are we short-changing our children when we design school to get anticipated answers?

“I’ve learned to rely on curiosity in two really important ways…to fight fear…to instill confidence…You have to learn to beat the no…First, I listened to the ‘no.’ There was information in the resistance that I had to be curious about.” pgs. 100-04

ME- Sounds like a growth mindset to me– Fail Up!

“It [curiosity] does that by getting you comfortable with being a little uncomfortable.” pg. 124

“But familiarity is the enemy of curiosity.” pg. 158

ME- Grant Lichtman, you are being channeled here!

“The real benefit of asking rather than telling is that it creates the space for a conversation, for a different idea, a different strategy…questions can quietly transmit values more powerfully than a direct statement.” pg. 144

ME- Here it is again- the connection to empathy!

“Curiosity equips us with the skills for openhearted, open-minded exploration.” pg. 181

ME- Empathy!!!

“Curiosity looks like it’s a ‘deconstructive’ process…But, in fact, curiosity isn’t deconstructive. It’s synthetic. When curiosity really captures you, it fits the pieces of the world together.” pg. 191

ME- Synthetic? Yes, AND Symbiotic.

“Curiosity–asking questions–isn’t just a way of understanding the world. It’s a way of changing it.” pg. 195

ME- And sadly, perhaps this is why it is not encouraged and fostered…sigh…

Expressions in abundance! The authors are masters at using metaphors and phrases that help us visualize curiosity so that we can literally see it in our mind’s eye. What connections and insights do you gain about curiosity by the following?


1) is the spark that starts a flirtation.

2) is the path to freedom.

3) is the flint from which flies the spark of inspiration.

4) connects you to reality.

5) leads to storytelling.

6) rewards persistence.

7) creates the moment of surprise (and before that the moment of respect).

8) is a state of mind.

9) is a kind of receptivity.

#fuse14: A Virtual Experience

Confession:  This is my first blog.  I have been involved in social media and the blogosphere for about 5 years now.  Most of my curation, though, has been in response to others– either commenting on their blogs, tweeting to and with them, etc.  Another confession:  engaging in this type of connection and learning through blogs and tweets helped me remain invigorated and excited to be in the field of education at a time when I felt I was surrounded by those who were disengaged.  I consider myself blessed to be connected to so many outstanding people (though I don’t know all of them personally), and I thank them for partnering with me in ways they may not have imagined.  Having said that, it is about time for me to fully engage with my own blog and invite others to connect with me here!

I had the pleasure to participate virtually in #fuse14, a design thinking extravaganza organized and offered by Mount Vernon Presbyterian School and the MV Institute for Innovation last week.  For those of you who are unaware of Mount Vernon, you must take a moment to visit their website http://www.mountvernonschool.org to learn more about them.  Under the leadership of Brett Jacobsen (Head of School, @jbrettjacobsen) and Bo Adams (Chief Innovation and Learning Officer, @boadams1), Mount Vernon is moving the pendulum when it comes to envisioning education and learning.  Brett has established a top-notch team of educators and thinkers, and this team is on the move and making an impact!  There were a number of outstanding individuals who partnered with Bo to make this conference possible:  @scitechyEDU, @TJEdwards62, @treyboden, @gregbamford, @AllisonToller.  I have probably neglected someone’s name here, so please accept my apology in advance.  This is a wonderful team of people who you must follow!

Please peruse the following Storify for a synopsis of my engagement in this exciting 2-day experience:


To be honest, I would have much preferred to actually be at the conference with colleagues, interacting face-to-face and minute-to-minute.  However, barring that, I found engaging in the conference via Twitter extremely exciting, fast-paced, and worthy.  Having Grant Lichtman (@GrantLichtman) as the official “Tweeting Tom” and real-time blogger aka Virtual Facilitator was immensely helpful for those of us virtual attendees as he posed interesting questions, shared a bit of the action, and continued to encourage all to engage.  I think this role is an important role for conferences if virtual attendance is encouraged and desired. How Might We continue to design a way in which virtual connections at actual conferences add depth and value to the conference, both for physical and virtual attendees?

What I also valued was the ability to peer in to both the Design 101 (beginner) and 201 (experienced) Deep Dives.  I was able to jump back and forth to witness the design challenges, comparing and contrasting along the way.  Due to intense work on their own team challenges, the Tweets decreased except for those team leaders or Grant who were in share mode.  It was more difficult to add a question or comment specific to a team’s design challenge as they were deep in to each other and their challenge, understandably so.  I would have loved to have an archive or reporting of the different prototypes that emerged for us virtual attendees.  How Might We consider this in the future?

As always with social media participation, I was blessed to make some new colleagues and contacts and engage with them not only about #fuse14, but also about some additional or tangential topics that emerged.  I look forward to continuing to make new connections. I am left with some questions that I will continue to reflect upon as a result of this conference, the contributions of all involved, and some new contacts.  They include:

*  HMW foster Ts breaking the chains of isolation to share & collaborate using the lens of scaling excellence?  HT @jbrettjacobsen

*  HMW we better understand the concept of “collective fear” and “collective group-esteem,” their roots, and their effects on individual fear and individual self-efficacy?  (sidebar conversation with @DrLeeAnneG and @profragsdale)

*  HMW utilize the process of design thinking to internalize the mindset of design thinking in learners?

*  HMW continue to reshape PD in schools so that it not only furthers the mission and school wide goals but also the personal and professional goals of each teacher– moving away from compliance-driven PD to proactive and highly sought after PD by each learner?

*  There are those who are more likely to take risks and chances in an environment with those they do not know, indicating a paradox-Strangers allow for more freedom to fail while safety of known colleagues increases “cost” of failing? HMW understand this better?

*  As thrilled as I am about the shift in learning and conversations happening within and among many learning organizations, I am concerned that teacher training programs are not systemically present in these conversations.  HMW? (sidebar conversation with @gregbamford)

I will continue to periodically blog on these and many other topics.  I invite you to follow me and contribute to the conversation!  Thank you for reading!