I recently attended a small meeting with an impressive group of current and past leaders of a number of education’s largest and oldest organizations. It wasn’t a secretive get-together or sensitive topic, and I’m not going to reveal the name of any participants or discuss any specific content. So if you’re looking for some inside scoop or salaciousness, you’re about to be disappointed.
Instead, I want to explain how something as seemingly simple as a meeting’s form and tone influenced my thinking, and I want to thank, in absentia, those responsible.
As for the meeting itself, I was a bit of a fish out of water; it was not populated by any of the reform community’s usual suspects. I was also probably the youngest and least experienced person in the room.
There were two other notable sets of differences between this gathering and my frequent haunts.
The first related to style. At this meeting:
- People dressed more formally; just about everyone had on a jacket, and all men wore ties.
- There were zero laptops. Most people took notes on paper pads.
- Because there was so little technology in the room, almost no one multitasked.
- Each person at the table had several minutes at the beginning of the meeting to give his/her thoughts on the subject at hand (this alone took almost an hour).