From Now On
The Educational Technology Journal

 Vol 11|No 1|September|2001

Digging the Holes for a Foundation

We are often warned to build our ideas, our houses and our relationships on strong foundations. The prior system of wires and posts fell down in a wind storm. To dig 13 holes 2.5 feet into the ground and 2.5 feet in diameter, I rented a large augur.

© 2001, J. McKenzie, click on picture for full size.

When we search for new solutions to old problems, we should avoid using the rotten wood, shallow thinking and flawed planning of earlier attempts. We arrange the right tools for the occasion and dig deeply and well, determined to build our new system on firm footings. We prepare the ground. We cultivate. We don't rush things, pounding our stakes into the earth as if mere force will suffice.

The trellis book I had consulted underlined the importance of digging holes and setting concrete. The author also recommended the use of power tools for such a task.

Such good advice. And yet here was a demanding set of new skills and a tool that required new learning for me to succeed.

It is the same way with research. Sometimes we cannot access the information we need or convert it into meaning until we have acquired new tools and new skills. Data may be readily available while meaning lies far below the surface.

In looking to restore species and habitats to healthy conditions, for example, researchers must do more than end the current threats. They must dig back into time to figure out what conditions existed before the degradation of environments began.

Effective solutions are almost always deeply rooted in past experience and tied firmly to evidence and experience that supports and validates the strategies being proposed.

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Credits: The photographs were shot by Jamie McKenzie.

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