Welcome to another episode of the Horizon Room’s Open Mic series, a chance for educators to be a part of a high-profile discussion on the most important issues facing education today.

Your hosts, Learning Counsel News Media and Research CEO LeiLani Cauthen and CAO Chris McMurray, bring you a brisk, grab-you-and-never-let-you-go platform that gets to the meat of the issues in K-12 education today.

In today’s episode, Cauthen and McMurray bring you some In-the-Box Thinking like you’ve never “thunk” it before.

“What we're thinking about today,” said McMurray, “is outside-the-box versus inside-the-box thinking. So, every time we hear, ‘Gosh, we have to innovate, we have to change, we have to keep moving forward,’ we're looking for outside-the-box thinking. Except… what that means is not what I think people think it means. The Learning Council would prefer to point people to inside-the-box thinking, referring to innovation occurring. We all have a box that has all the opportunities, all the challenges, all the mandates, all the things that surround our work. And, when you have that box, you're defined by the dimensions of that box and innovation really involves taking advantage of what's there versus bringing in something completely different that you don't already have (and know). And so, we're going to dig into that, to start thinking differently about the box.”

“I'm in the middle of a series of editorials that address the Problems in schools,” said Cauthen. “The problem with school problems is, they don't know what the actual problem is. And so, they're treating symptoms of a much greater problem. So, when I look at inside-the-box thinking versus outside-the-box thinking, you think you know, but you don't actually know because you're thinking in isolated little bits and pieces rather than looking at the whole scene and that might be in your box, but it also might be outside your box, like what's going on in the world.”

Just in case you aren’t completely confused now, Cauthen and McMurray bring in some of the best minds in education to straighten us out. First up is Derek Brown, Director of Technology Operations at Portland Public Schools. “It's interesting times,” said Brown. We like to think we're post COVID, and we want to move things forward that are stuck. There are always hurdles with funding and things of that nature, but if we're doing what's best for our students, we will work through how to get our educators there. We will do that side by side as Chris (McMurray) and I did many years ago. We have to get into the classroom. We don't do the PD, sit and get, and it's grassroots slowly but surely either by grade level or by curriculum. We get in there and do the work; it's time to continue rolling up our sleeves and it's taking action, small steps, and then we can adjust and be flexible from there. It's better to move than to have paralysis by analysis.”

The next caller is a superintendent from Mercer, Wisconsin. “I think we're dealing with some of the same things we see in the larger school districts…”

You won’t want to miss a word of this fast moving, ‘makes-you-think’ podcast, full of good advice from districts around the country and from sunny Benton, Arkansas, world-wide headquarters of the Learning Counsel News Media and Research.