The Agile Mindset: EdCamp Meets Mr. Penumbra

There are always those snippets that stick in my mind at the end of a conference presentation or in this case, en EdCamp session. Listening to Don Buckley describe design thinking, I latched onto the term he used “agile mindset.” What people really need in the 21st century is an ability to update, shift gears, change course. His example was the continual stream of updates we get for our computers, but I see it as much more than that. We need to be willing to learn, always, everywhere.

On Spring Break this week, I asked a friend to suggest a book I could read where I could kind of get lost in the story. I wanted to think but not too much. Bill suggested Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. It did not disappoint. For those who may want to read it, I will avoid any spoilers here. I raced through it in a few days, which is no small feat with small children around.

The book is about an old mystery with many people looking for the keys to unlock it. One important character, Corvina, is convinced that a traditional approach is necessary. He is not interested in hearing new ideas. He is classic example of a fixed mindset. Another character, Mr. Penumbra is willing to try new methods to tackle the challenge. To me, he represents more of a growth mindset, where he is ready to incorporate new ideas. The main character, Clay, is the one who represents the agile mindset. He is willing to try new things and reconsider old ideas, combining new technology with old technology. He is able to see things others cannot because he looks at the situation from every angle.

I have been a big advocate of the growth mindset since reading Carol Dweck. Now, I am adding the agile mindset to what I want for myself and my students. Growth and agility combined are what we need for the 21st century to be able to solve the challenges we face. We cannot throw out old ideas simply because they are old. Solutions can come from anywhere. Inspiration can be triggered by an infinite number of things, if we are open to receiving it. We need to shift our thinking enough to be able to recognize those opportunities. Laser focus can be very useful, but so can a willingness to shift our attention. Sometimes the best ideas come when we are not locked into a solution mindset.

Even with this post, I am hoping people will challenge my ideas, add their thoughts and move the conversation forward.

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2 thoughts on “The Agile Mindset: EdCamp Meets Mr. Penumbra

  1. Molly, I am very happy that you enjoyed my book recommendation; thrilled that it engaged you as it did; and overjoyed that you’ve written this post. By doing so, you’ve shown me the book in a completely new light. I now want to re-read it in order to explore the ideas you’ve gleaned from it. Thanks!!!!

    • That is truly the best part of sharing reading with others – we all bring different thoughts and experiences to the mix. I had no idea when I wrote that post that a friend had also read the book and really loved it. We are now talking about starting a book discussion club with people from different schools participating. Mr. Penumbra may be our first book. The power of Twitter! Look what may come from a single tweet.

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