Quoting ideas

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Someone tweeted a link tonight to 100 quotes about innovation.  As I read through them, I picked out a few which seem to have make sense to me. After all, in the words of Anais Nin,

“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”

All of us are looking from the inside out.

Consciously challenging ourselves to examine our paradigms is critical if we are to look at new ways of doing things. We grow comfortable with what is, and moving on from it is sometimes akin to the final action of admitting that a favourite piece of clothing has had its day.  Do we try to buy a ‘genuine replacement,’ or do we look for a different way to achieve similar outcomes: be that comfort or statement or even utility. Mostly we want for that ‘different way’ to also add something to the experience we had before.

“You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.” – Albert Einstein

In large systems, the ability to move on, and not adopt different ways of achieving the same outcomes but to look at adding value to the experience depends on the capacity to imagine different futures.

“The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.”Albert Einstein

Just how might we get engaged in  the business of ‘planning school?’ This is not about bulldozing and replacement.  We simply cannot afford that, and we are left with the challenge of modifying key systems and motivation while the wagons roll on.  How do we imagine that we can do this without some breadth in the way we devise our policy and the means by which we source our ideas.  It may take time and some room to move for patterns and the lines which create meaning to emerge.

“I’ve been doing a lot of abstract painting lately, extremely abstract. No brush, no paint, no canvas, I just think about it.” – Steven Wright

There are great ideas out there. And, there are lone nuts dancing.

“The man with a new idea is a crank – until the idea succeeds.”Mark Twain

We have great tools at our disposal to connect: with people and ideas. Our access to a metalanguage which can transcend the ‘localisation’ of culture, religion and nationalism provides the fabulous potential for ‘glocalisation,’ in which our ability to act both locally and globally is seen as an enormous adding of value to our horizon of possibility. As we connect using social media like Twitter, we see linkages form across town, across the state, the country and the world.  Projects spring up between teachers, discussion and debate takes place about what it is we do, and woven through the warp is the weft of bright ideas and willingness to follow each other laterally, providing a meaning and expression for the vertical warp.

Sometimes it can feel as though we are travelling up and down in the vertical elevator of bureaucracy: glum with the realisation that you can’t even get to certain floors without a swipe card. And then, sometimes, when the doors open and we see a corridor of connectedness to fresh ideas and helpful others, we are reminded that the up and down can only ever really have meaning and purpose when it serves as a means of getting people to the places they need to be to laterally grow.

Look around: there are countless opportunities to learn and to find things to excite our curiosity. We, as teachers, will often find that we find the best opportunities for learning by looking directly outward and around, not up; or down.

After we connect, there is then the power of our ability to collaborate.

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct arising from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the object it loves.” – Carl Jung

Given an atmosphere where it feels safe to do so, and where it is clear what is expected, people have a great capacity to innovate and, importantly, to improvise: working from what is at hand, creating solutions which provide glimpses of possible futures.  If we adopt a tight, loose, tight model within the way that we structure our learning environment we can create ways of doing things where there can be sufficient looseness to encourage the harnessing of a plethora of possibilities in demonstrating the outcomes of learning.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” – General George Patton

Social media like Twitter and Yammer have clearly shown the vast store of creative capacity which exists within all of the people who work within education. Our huge challenge is to find ways which allow this creative capacity to be appropriately recognised and used productively, with benefit for all.

“After years of telling corporate citizens to ‘trust the system,’ many companies must relearn instead to trust their people – and encourage their people to use neglected creative capacities in order to tap the most potent economic stimulus of all: idea power.” – Rosabeth Moss Kanter

This is not just a challenge for the ‘companies,’ however.  It is a challenge for us all. New learning and the fresh application of things already known requires commitment and time.

You will never find the time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” – Charles Burton

Today, I was happy to learn something new about something I wanted to do better by noticing what someone else had done by accident and then learning, via a flurry of email, how the result was achieved. In the middle of this, new ideas took form to be added to the mix. Separated in the vertical elevator of age by at least 20 or more  years, we were able to get off at the same floor and walk away with a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that we can both apply something new to the way we do things.

This is a good result.

Cockle Creek – Reflecting on change

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A graffiti tagged girder frames a reflection of the reality of a bygone line to other places.  Rusting piers, capped by grasses and an air of indignation,  thrust their reflection onto the slick green Limpopo look of Cockle Creek at Teralba. This was a grand new project: a line to the mines at Killingworth and West Wallsend.  It must have seemed like an optimism of the age; now a memory.  How much of the stuff that we engage with, in the belief that it is the stuff of sound planning for the future, may, in turn, become rusted grass topped piers in the creek?

The stories we can tell though: of best endeavour, or deceit, of human beings with all of their follies and fascinations, are the things which will inform us. There was a time where the creek was also a thoroughfare, then no more.

As things keep changing, as new bridges superimpose themselves on old, the importance of increasing the horizon of possibility for every child continues to assume a clarity which needs to be promoted as a simple and wonderful principle for what we do as educators within public schools.  That is what we do.

And the grass topped bridge?

We’ll cross that when we come to it.

(Pics taken on mobile phone en route from meeting at Speers Point to Barnsley via Teralba 25 May 2010)

Twitter: what’s it good for?

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Currently very excited by some of the links being made between a whole host of people.  Locally in Newcastle there’s a ‘diverse twitterverse’ with great potential for an innovative future. For anyone near enough, keep watching out for some amazing events coming up.

Planning for one of the events and trying to get some ideas, who better to ask than my ‘tweeps?’

Twitter: what’s it good for?

Within a very short space of time, here is what they said

BiancaH80 @pryorcommitment Free learning that is lively, engaging and fun! Constant support and a plethora of new ideas everyday. CCC :-)

MitchSquires @pryorcommitment Conversational learning that is relevant, interesting and really available at any level.
Mon, May 10 19:34:36 from TweetDeck in reply to pryorcommitment

k8tra @pryorcommitment learning and connections
Mon, May 10 19:34:43 from Tweetie in reply to pryorcommitment

MitchSquires @pryorcommitment Great connections that are invaluable to my class and me.

woojm @pryorcommitment constant inspiration and encouragement. plethora of new ideas every time you log in
Mon, May 10 19:42:35 from TweetDeck in reply to pryorcommitment

victeach @pryorcommitment opens my mind to professional learning not available in my school context and makes a big world smaller and more friendly.

alisa_williams @pryorcommitment twitter is immediate! No waiting on hold, no endless Google searches. You ask… your network AND the experts reply to you.

teachercolin @pryorcommitment Join the global conversation without barriers
Mon, May 10 19:45:47 from Twadget

siobhan_curran @pryorcommitment croudsourcing and immediacy
Mon, May 10 20:08:56 from Tweetie in reply to pryorcommitment

JSP2283 @pryorcommitment #twitter_what‘sitgoodfor : news, information links; encouragement; humour; diversion; venting;
Mon, May 10 20:13:20 from web

pipcleaves @pryorcommitment Twitter is connecting, collaborating and creating.
Mon, May 10 20:41:48 from TweetDeck

paulwils7 @pryorcommitment 24/7 Professional Learning FREE!!!! What more could you want???
Mon, May 10 20:55:45 from HootSuite in reply to pryorcommitment

growthwise @pryorcommitment benefit as gives you access to info to help build your business – the learning aspect
Mon, May 10 21:43:08 from TweetDeck in reply to pryorcommitment

growthwise @pryorcommitment Twitter is also a great way to stay connected to not only your client but also suppliers & the rest of the community
Mon, May 10 21:44:16 from TweetDeck in reply to pryorcommitment

growthwise @pryorcommitment it’s a forum to allow you to gather ideas & suggestions & a great tool to meet other like minded people
Mon, May 10 21:45:10 from TweetDeck in reply to pryorcommitment

jangreen31 @pryorcommitment resources, meanings, understandings. Synergy via CCC.
Mon, May 10 22:10:33 from web

jangreen31 @pryorcommitment Seems first tweet lost. Twitter great 4 modelling 21C leadership. Building, creating connections, school community, teacher

sandynay RT @jangreen31: @MCT_DG Twitter is a gr8 tool 4 modelling 21C leadership. CCC – school community, PLN, national/international. Create new…

jangreen31 @pryorcommitment teachers, PLNs, international/national opps 4 research and sharing. Its about CCC & synergy; personal & professional growth

And, last word from one of the ABC1233 crew from Newcastle

Twitter? what’s it good for?

carolduncan @pryorcommitment everything!
Mon, May 10 22:45:22 from HootSuite

Watch out for the New Institute, and the New Lunaticks

Pushing prams between an autumn sunset and a bold dawn

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Prams these days are triumphs of modern design.  Engineered with the lifestyles in mind of smart men and women who want to share a walk with dogs and community spirit, around the inner suburbs.

The western gold glows in leaf falling colourscapes, the autumnal twilight melts slowly.

These are the parents of our Kindergarten children around 2015.

Intelligent adults full of expectation: with a world of information available on any conceivable topic. Curriculum to class sizes, policy to pedagogy, student welfare to sunsafe; it’s there, just a mouse click away,  for the reading.

Amongst these adults will be tweeps and mummy bloggers: intuitive users of social media available right now and not likely to go away anytime soon. People with huge opportunities for canvassing opinion and gaining input to a range of ideas about school and schooling: and their own child. From contentment with ‘getting what they got,’ to ‘expecting change, and wanting to see added value.’

The pram pushers will push us. Let’s not respond by pushing back.

Instead, let’s see if we can engage them in going about the business of planning school; as opposed to school planning.  School planning uses all available sources of data and information to plan how to make WHAT IS better.  Planning school is about being able to connect people and ideas; as well as using all available sources of data and information to collaborate across a range of forums and media, and then create something which is different, and allows us collectively to echo Michelangelo:

‘I saw an angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free.’

I don’t know about angels, but I think we all know that there is huge potential in a generation of young people. And, for those still being pushed up my street in the fading amber of an autumn day, I hope that, by 2015, we can be walking alongside, planning school as a shared journey where there is a sense that we have gone from pram pushing to sitting beside each other at a planning desk, as we build scaffolds around the fabulous humans we are seeking to build.

Testing Backpacker Rules

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Sometimes I think many of us dream about the potential to use our power to connect to build networks which go way beyond the traditional boundaries of state, or church, or cultural boundary.  It is early days, but there are many things happening which rattle the cage of beliefs we might have about just how things ought to be.

I still find it inspiring that a person with strict localised cultural, religious or political beliefs can, in a connected world, zoom between levels of engagement with these: sometimes wide-angling, and connecting with a potential new market, or relationship network which was formerly beyond possibility.

How then, do we define the ‘rules of engagement?’

Recently. In Melbourne, I was staying up the backpacker end of town, and wandered into the All Nations Nomad Hotel for a drink.  The pub is connected to a Backpacker Hostel and, another chalkboard over the bar offers treats like:

  • Goon Rouge or
  • Goon Blanc

Along with a scale of prices for beer in pots, schooners and jugs.

Music requests

They obviously have a computer set up running iTunes or similar and punters ask the bar staff for requests. Some simple rules appear in bold caps on a chalkboard above the bar.



There are some key messages here about setting clear guidelines and expecting co-operation.  By the time we read number 3, it puts some responsibility back to us and may make us re-read 1 and 2, which also ask for common sense and respect for the role of the other.  Calls for respect of property and common courtesy simply reinforce the potential for more civil ways of interacting when we are able to recognise that all parties have sometimes complementary, sometimes competing, needs.

This may or may not be a good example, but, for me, it says a lot about how there are different possibilities around gaining common understandings for the way we do things or would like to see things happen. A faith in this, however, requires a shift toward an environment in which there is a ‘bias to yes,’ and a promotion of that curious tri-chotomy of tight ~ loose ~ tight.

The underlying premise is that we have something to offer you: a song to sing

  • Ask us for what you want and we’ll try to help
  • Please understand that if we are busy we will still try to meet your needs but your understanding would be nice and would make it best for all of us
  • Think about the current vibe and the collective feel and reflect on how ‘what you want’ fits within this landscape of ideas.
  • So that we can continue to provide this, please don’t play around with our equipment.
  • Courtesy and ‘manners’ are trans-cultural matters which demonstrate our commitment to a ‘meta language for cross-cultural positive interaction.’

I then sat and watched young people, and listened to a variety of accents, and saw the possibilities of a ‘metaverse’ before me: where we can construct other possibilities for the way that we work and make decisions.

I then think about the possibilities which are provided in a connected web 2.0 world to enable a very much more varied ‘message stream.’

This will take much longer if there is anchorage in a past culture which seeks to garner support for collective action by employing rhetoric around solidarity which could be seen as exaggerated in an Australian work environment where less than 20% of workers belong to unions.

Our education system should be able to embody some simple rules for backpacker song requests in a pub.  And it would be really nice if everybody who wanders in to have a drink is happy to take note of a mutually beneficial and respectful way of doing things.

Then, if you are putting your hand up to ‘have a go’ we ought to be doing whatever is possible, to support you.

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