“Educators have incredible power on impressionable minds to shape self-belief and self-worth”
“If the future is the undiscovered land, then education is the window through which we see this land.”
To Mark Sparvell, winner of the 2009 Worldwide Innovative Teacher Award
and National Inspirational Leadership Award in 2011, teaching and learning are simply creative pursuits. “What drew me in is the enjoyable creativity about shaping a rigorous learning program,” says Sparvell. “Shaping it like an artist would. I was fascinated by the possibility that I could customize learning.”
Today, Sparvell is most identified with exploring the possibilities of technology to improve learning outcomes at the system, school and classroom level. “When you connect peers with purpose, technology becomes an enabler,” says Sparvell. “You can do an awful lot with a little and an awful little with a lot. It’s a matter of looking at the assets you have whether they be technological, cultural or community and creatively accessing, inviting and re-purposing.”
In his role, Sparvell sees first-hand what is working, and what isn’t. “The best opportunity for innovation in education comes through the establishment of environments and pedagogies that develop a willingness to take risks and develop an appetite for experimentation,” says Sparvell.
And from Sparvell’s perspective, there is one learning method that stands out: peer-led online collaborations.
“There is no reason now for schools to not engage in online collaborations beyond their school, state, country,” notes Sparvell. “Peer-led collaborations are critical. This is great because it means that every teacher, every school and every system can start to edge towards innovative practices. Global networks of inspiring educators mean that individuals can leap-frog barriers to thinking and think out loud in the global spaces between people.”
Perhaps most important to Sparvell is the role educators play in creating critical thinkers who are creative, kind and engaged global citizens.
“Educators have incredible power on impressionable minds to shape self-belief and self-worth,” says Sparvell. “We need to remember every day that we are working with adults from the future in their child form. It’s a great time to be working in education – the future burns bright.”
About Mark Sparvell
Mark Sparvell is Executive Consultant with Innovation for Principal Australia Institute. He is an educator from South Australia and has worked in Primary schools for 20 years as teacher, e-leader, deputy and principal. Mark works with the Principals Australia Institute on the palnet.edu.au environment, a unique on-line professional learning space which connects Australian school leaders regardless of state, sector or level of school to discuss, debate and engage in the development of shared solutions.
Website I check every day: Every day I check my wordpress site at www.sparvell.com to share resources and ideas gleaned from Twitter and professional reading and to post my ‘thinking out loud.’
Favorite childhood memory: It was one of those flat, dry hot Summer school holidays where it felt the oxygen had been bleached from the air. My father had spent frustrating days piecing together and then filling an above ground pool. The sun sat obstinately overhead, black crows circling the parched forms of my twin brother and myself as we waited with goggles on, under the shade of the jacaranda tree. Finally the pool was declared ready and we made the blinding crossing from the shade, across the hot grass, up the ladder and into the delicious cool. And then the sides all fell outwards! A biblical flood carried my brother and myself out across the lawn with the thousands of liters of water. Sometimes the unexpected outcomes are the most memorable!
Next travel destination (work or pleasure): For pleasure I would go see the Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia. For work I would like to continue my international judging experience with the PiL Worldwide Forum in Greece 2012.
Favorite book: I’m an obsessive-compulsive reader of books with an ever changing ‘top ten’ books. “Maps Of Time,” by David Christian was recently consumed, “Seeds of Earth,” for my sci-fi dose and “Leading Australia’s Schools,” by Patrick Duignan and David Gurr for my professional pleasure.