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New (But Not Too New)

I am currently listening to Woodstock sung by David Crosby joined by Michael League, Becca Stevens, and Michelle Williams. I am mentally comparing what I am hearing to my recollection of the original and the new version holds up well. The version is substantially different from the original--the approach to the harmonies differ, the lead singers change throughout the song, and the instrumentation differs. I could listen to this Woodstock any number of times. 

I compare this listening experience to other new songs I hear. Most of them I do not like and dismiss outright. Others I like but a single listening is enough. It is the rare new song that I want to listen to multiple times.

Thinking of why this version of Woodstock resonated with me I noted that the song was different from the previous versions I have heard and it was familiar. Not all of it was new--the basic structure of the song was known as were the lyrics. I felt comfortable with the song--comfortable enough to enjoy the way the artists changed the original.

I think this analogy might be important to keep in mind when as leaders we try to initiate change. Change is more likely to be accepted if it resembles what comes before it. 

To ask teachers to embrace AI seems to many of them to be such a big ask. Before last year, most of them had never heard of, no less given any deep thought, to AI. Integrating it into classrooms seems alien and strange. 

On the other hand, all English teachers are familiar with peer editing. To suggest to teachers to encourage students to use Chat GPT as a first cut peer editor is less scary. “Oh yes, my students need editors. It may be strange to let a machine do the editing, but it is better than no editor at all. Plus, another student and then I will edit it subsequently.”

I don’t mean to suggest that even approaching things slowly will convince everyone to embrace change, but by making the change look less dramatic, you are likely to get more folks willing to give it a shot. 

After all, I have a favorite new version of Woodstock. 


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