Impossible is not a fact

impossible is not a factImage: Make a vision board

The full quote is:

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

— Muhammad Ali

It would appear there are a number of things which are impossible with technology in education at the moment. Why is that? It’s impossible to get enough girls into STEM and that will ruin our future. It’s impossible to put the A into STEM because it might ruin STEM which will then ruin our future. It’s impossible to use technology in the classroom even though it’s been in classrooms since the 1980s because it will ruin our teaching and that will ruin our future because it’s impossible to teach properly with technology and we shouldn’t listen to anyone who can teach well with technology because then it will be impossible to get it right and that will ruin our future and probably impact badly on STEM. It’s impossible to teach properly because we have national testing and then we have criteria for assessments , performance standards and then all of that makes it impossible to teach properly which will mean our future will be ruined.

Michael Jordan said , Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.

Maybe we need to be listening to our sports people at the moment. I have been in a classroom since 1973 as a preservice teacher and then a fully fledged teacher since 1974. This is the first time I have seen us find everything impossible as a profession. We have always had vision. We have always trail blazed and we have always taken on and embraced new ideas and , as we have worked with them,  we have criticised , complained, spoken up and out , applied ourselves and our intelligence and found the ways of getting a really good model of teaching and learning into place. Do we think we need no consistency across schools , especially now as we merge into a global community of knowledge and practice? Do we think should not have bench marking as data feedback? Should we just teach in a vacuum or should we have some commonality ? Should we identify what is good practice or leave it to serendipity? Should we just learn from ourselves or from each other? And, on top of that, should we just walk out on technology? Want to put that computer run car away and get the crank handle out?

Brett Salakas (@MRsalakas) ,who is one of the powerhouses behind #aussieED and a very committted, inspired teacher and educator of all who come into contact with him , has called for a national conversation about where we are headed in education: Being Between Paradigms Has Caused the Rise of the Edu Walking Dead!. He has declared and discussed his opinion and we need to be doing more of that. The rest of Muhammad Ali’s quote now comes into play : Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. We need to look at what is possible, what has succeeded, what we have been doing and make no attempt to denigrate, wipe out, undermine or deny what teachers have been doing all around Australia to improve learning outcomes for students.

Shulman (2001) directed special attention to the need to focus the “scholarship of teaching” on new learning technologies:

Technology is the 300-pound gorilla that no one can ignore, and this new element in all of our
lives has had a healthily disruptive impact on our old habits. For example, many faculty
members are now asking serious questions about teaching and learning: How do we know these
new technologies are effective in fostering student learning? What does student learning look
like, and how do we know it when we see it? What’s the difference between the kind of learning
that occurs in traditional venues and the kind that occurs in technologically mediated settings?
Most universities have already committed significant resources to the uses of technology. And,
since technology is not something you simply plug in, such research questions spawn a much
larger set of inquiries about the curriculum, the design of instruction, and assessment, thereby
encouraging a more general spirit of inquiry about teaching and learning.

Storm Clouds on the Digital Education Horizon , Thomas C. Reeves , 2002 University of Georgia

Fourteen years later we are still having that same conversation. I think we need to notice it is 2016, we have had ICT since the 1980s and that we need to  have the national conversation Brett Salakas has suggested.


2 Responses

  1. I do love that directly after mentioning my name you reference a 300 pound gorilla… I understand the similarities on more levels than you know but I love this blog!

    You quoted from one of my heroes and what a great line you used, “Impossible is Nothing!”

    Although the trap is that doing the ‘impossible’ does take tremendous effort! We may need more gorillas!


    • No, no no!! Please. In my lifetime as a teacher my weight has gone up and down. First I put weight on with stress. Then I lost it without even thinking because , as you say, doing the impossible , takes tremendous effort and then I put weight on with all the hard work of innovating and now …thin person again. Teaching well is hugely demanding and you have to pay attention…now I have done so many years of teaching…to what your body says and make adjustments of the real kind. I knew Muhammed Ali when he was Cassius Clay and I have watched this man battle so many challenges and then still come up with life changing positives and success. I do listen to him because he is a powerful influencer inspite of all the things life has thrown at him. We need to just keep the juggernaut rolling. Thank you for commenting. I appreciate it.


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