David Thornburg's Recent Blogs

Pragmatic Visionaries

The Thornburg Center is composed of Pragmatic Visionaries—people who live and work in two spaces, and who bring those spaces together in their presentations and workshops.

One of these spaces is the world of pragmatism—we care deeply about effecting real progress in education, and this means providing the kind of drill-down depth needed to show how the ideas we espouse can be brought into real world classrooms with real world learners at all levels.  Toward this end, many of us have been educators, and many of us continue to wear that hat today.  For example, our founder, Dr. David Thornburg, not only designs and teaches doctoral level courses for Walden University, his office is located in a pre-K-12 school where he interacts with children and their teachers almost every day.  We have University professors among our ranks, and others who have taught at various levels.  We are driven to make an impact, and this demands that our work be relevant to the daily world of educators—hence our focus on pragmatism.

But, in our view, pragmatism is not enough.  The second space occupied by each of us is the world of visionaries—people who are not content to perpetuate practices that have failed, but who are constantly on the lookout for ideas on the horizon that have the power to transform learning experiences in deep and lasting ways.  The easy part of this task involves technology, and we all have an active interest in thinking about how emerging technologies can help education.  Our founder spent the 70's at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center where he contributed ideas in user interfaces that are still in use today.  But neither he nor any other member of our organization has rested on his or her laurels.  Technology is a fast-moving target, and thinking about which technologies can have lasting positive impact consumes a significant fraction of our time.  Our work in this area is not limited to reading about new tools, but includes active hands-on participation in the process of evaluating technologies.  What is important to our clients is not just the technologies we've found to have promise, but also our critiques of technologies that might be very popular, but which fail to reflect lasting value.  This is not, by any means, the limit of our visioning.  The transformation of pedagogical practice in support of the needs of all learners growing up in this century is a topic of constant exploration.  Toward this end, we are voracious readers and thinkers who travel across the globe to visit places where pedagogical magic is happening.  Sometimes the ideas are current; sometimes they are reflections of some of the best thinkers in the world whose ideas, some published many years ago, are ripe for rethinking in our modern fast-paced world where a good education is essential for survival of our society.

Given both the pragmatic and visionary spaces we each inhabit, our presentations and workshops are carefully designed to blend the two together.  This is why conferences keep having us back year after year; why many of our clients retain us for multi-year projects.  Most importantly, this is why your organization will benefit from the insights of any of our associates.