Next week I have an opportunity to look, listen, and learn as I travel to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. This trip facilitated by the University of Penn. is designed as a learning journey and a walk with members of the Lakota. I’m humbled and honored to have this opportunity. It is one of those serendipitous opportunities that I hope that we all still have space in our lives to seize. It was combined luck, connection, and the will to make it happen.

With the trip a week away, I find myself thinking about looking. There are many ways to look. You can look up at the beautiful skies and heavens and avoid what is in front of you. The beauty of looking this way is that we see wondrous sites including the moon, stars, sun, and clouds. We can also choose to look down. Looking down can be safe. It is near our feet and the ground. Looking down is often about being in the present. It is about seeing the grass, the computer screen, and/or a smaller view of the big picture. We can also choose to look out. Looking out can give us direction. It can help us notice where things are in relation to other things. Looking out can allow us to see new in the old and old in the new.

I’m hoping to look out next week, lips closed, words in my heart, and quiet souled. Looking out isn’t a natural place for me to be, but I know that it is a way of learning for me that brings deep understanding. Looking, listening, learning come from asking the right questions, listening with fresh ears, and building a deeper empathy for the situation that surrounds me.

I’m longing to think, read, and sit quietly with the complexity of life on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Let my heart be ready, my words be right, and my sense of adventure, awe, and amazement be set at the perfect tempo.

Dr Robert Dillon is a former middle school principal and is currently Director of Technology and Innovation for Affton School District, Affton, Missouri. You can reach Robert on Twitter here. This blog was originally published at Bob’s blog.


#aussieED was lucky enough to connect with Bob and our friend Joe Mazza during our visit to SXSWedu in Austin, Texas in March 2015. We are working together to unpack the educational response to cultural shifts and impacts. We will be working to share their learnings from the #PennLakota15 experience over the coming weeks.

Nick Brierley (@mythsysizer).

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