Stuck Behind a Turtle - Breathe Life into Winter


Are you "stuck behind a turtle?" It's a quaint phrase that observes that innovative minds may often get bogged down, stuck behind a slow moving organization. When I reflect on much of the frustration in my professional career, I realize that it involves organizations that are slow to change, moving like turtles when they need to be a bit more nimble and quick. Another reason is some times I'm not as innovative as I need to be!
Turtle Creation Myth from the Iroquois (Image Source)

Of course, this comparison brings to mind the Aesop's fable of the tortoise and the hare. But these are sufficiently different ideas. While I love turtle stories, including the turtle creation myth and the Aesop's fable, I find the concept of being stuck behind a turtle to be an apt analogy for technology educators stuck in slow-changing K-16 schools.

"Everyone knew you were always 'stuck behind a turtle,'" shared a colleague earlier this week when I remarked I'd embraced a new job. When I reflect on this, another insight hits me--when you're stuck behind a turtle, how do you react? And, if you're reacting, how do you regain the initiative?

In the Iroquois Turtle Creation Myth, one of the Sky People--a woman--is cast down (because she was going to have twins) to Earth, where two birds catch her and the animals make a home for her and all of creation on the back of a turtle. She has two sons, Sapling and Flint. The former is "good," creating life that was helpful to humans. The other son, Flint, is "bad," trying to undo the good things his brother has done. Sapling gives life even to those things that are bad, so that they can find another way (such as giving life to Winter so it can move and become Spring).

As I reflect on my past experiences being stuck behind a turtle, I wonder how I could have been more of a Sapling--perhaps less a "sap" haha--than a Flint? It may be too late to change the facts, but there's always tomorrow. The duality in this Creation Myth reminds me of Dick Westley's Redemptive Intimacy and his view of the two stories of creation we find in the book of Genesis in the Bible.

In the first (Adam I), humans are out to dominate and control. In the second (Adam II), the focus is on nurturing and embracing our differences within the context of community. How we interact with others often seems the subject for human creation stories, explaining why we act the way we do. Often, these choices break down to one or the other, an either/or that leaves one the hero or the villain.

As human beings, we have many choices available to us...in the future, I hope that when I'm stuck behind the turtle, I'll find a way to transcend being a hero or villain...and, display the kind of innovation schools need to succeed.
Image Source: http://www.knowonder.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/innovation-turtle-on-wheels.jpg



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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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