Posts Tagged ‘intuyu’

I recently had an email conversation with a friend of mine in the USA who asked me what I meant when I told her that one of the areas we are now working in is “culture shifting schools”.  As I wrote my reply I had to really think about what our vision is when we work with schools. I thought it worthwhile to share with you what I wrote.

“To fill you in a little on culture shifting in schools … I recently wrote an article which addresses the shift in paradigms that is occuring at the moment (Age to Age article below in the blog list). In its essence we are moving into a new paradigm in the world and it is important to realise that people are still operating, thinking from, and acting from the old paradigm when new ideas are being brought in. This means we must first shift their context before bringing in new actions, structures, etc.

If we had to work with a new school (where we chose where to begin rather than if they just employed us for a specific task!) I would first find out if they have created a real vision for their future and uncover what they are building (what are they aiming to be best in the world in). It is critical for the school leadership team to have clarity in this as quite often we have found that schools have visions but quite often they are locked away in a drawer somewhere and it purely exists as words on a website or piece of paper to be brought out when someone asks.

From there we would have them describe what it would look like when that is delivered upon. This is important as the leadership team must be clear about what the entirity of the goal is and means. In fact, exemplary schools do this quite well.

Being clear about what it looks like, feels like, what things would be in place when that vision is accomplished, we would then look at where they are now against this future and then look at two things
1. What barriers would be in the way between now and the future
2. What projects (who, what, when, where, why) could be created to get from now to the future

Much like in “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, we can explore Level 5 Leadership, Having the right people in the right places, confronting all the brutal facts, and building a disciplined team, disciplined thinking, disciplined action.

We would then work with them inside of truing all their systems, teaching, processes, etc against this future such that they are delivering on them. I have seen many strategic plans that have great visions and ideas but their plans DO NOT address the constant measuring of the set actions against these visions. How do they know that the end result is definitely going to be that vision expressed in the world?

It is at this point that schools can assess what programs, professional development, staff resourcing and requirements, and so on are needed. What we have found is that it gives REAL clarity and direction to a school so they don’t beat around the bush so much when they are out to build the school they wish to build. It gives a context and direction that every stakeholder can understand.

Just to end this blog … one thing we have discovered is that schools are a wealth of experience and knowledge … they don’t need to spend huge amounts of money to get outsiders in to tell them what to do. Once they have clarity … it becomes about harnessing the extraordinary people who are already there. The answers are all there in the communities!

Until next time!

Have you ever had an “ah-ha” moment?

Archimedes did, apparently, when he stepped into his bath and noticed that the bath level rose by the volume displaced by the volume of his body. Archimedes yelled “??????!” (or Eureka which is Greek for “I have found it!”) before he went running through the streets half-naked excited about his discovery!

Insights come to us seemingly only at certain times and the process doesn’t seem to be reproducible. But insights is what is at the core of our learning and the learning of all human beings. What if we could make it reproducible?

David Rock in his recent book, Quiet Leadership, has given us an insight into insights.

David discusses recent neuroscience research that suggests that there are four stages to insights. The following is my paraphrasing from David Rock’s book and other researchers.

The First Stage: Awareness

Consider that the brain forms mental maps that gathers the information it has stored into some cohesive whole. As a way of accessing the information and ordering it has organised the information and patterns it has discerned into some map and then uses these maps to interpret and relate to the world.

In this first stage the brain is immersed in new information. It could be new perspectives about something we are examining in a class or heard on TV or are currently reading in a book. New information is essentially being processed and the brain is attempting to fit these ideas, thoughts and concepts into its current mental maps. As the brain attempts to integrate the new knowledge it begins to see that there is a dilemma because the new knowledge is creating a different mental map than the one that currently exists but the brain has not yet worked out how to reconcile this conflict by creating a new metamap or by reconfiguring the existing maps.

The Second Stage: Reflection

If one is to develop a consistent process of having insights and thus more productively then there needs to be more second stage “reflection” time in our days.

MRI scans show that people’s brains give off alpha-band waves just before they come up with an insight. Alpha waves correlate with people shutting down inputs from their external senses and focusing on internal stimuli. When we perform tasks that engage the conscious, logical mind we decrease the alpha-band waves. So reflection is NOT helped by asking your students to reflect by writing down their reflections (which is what many teachers do). The writing process should occur after true reflection.

Studies have shown that during reflection we are not thinking logically or analysing data; we’re engaging a part of our brain used for making links across the whole brain. We are thinking in an unusual way, tapping into more intelligence than the three to five pieces of information we can hold in our working memory. We are allowing the brain to think across the whole dataset of ideas, images, thoughts, knowledge to connect and reconfigure its mental maps without any new input from the conscious or working memory.

A simple process to reflect is to sit still and close your eyes (this removes about 70% of external stimuli) and focus on your breathing. Listen to the way you inhale and then exhale for about 60 seconds. Then open your eyes just a fraction and close them again. This sends you deeper into the alpha-band state. Listen to the way you inhale and then exhale for another 30 seconds and then open your eyes and write down your reflections. During this period you don’t think about anything logically just focus on your breathing.

By the way, we have all experienced this process naturally. Quite often we have insights when we are lying in bed before we go to sleep or when we wake up. It is in the quiet “non-logical”, “non-thinking” times that we suddenly go … “ah-ha”!

Third Stage: Insight

At the moment of insight our mental maps have been reconfigured or a new mental map has suddenly snapped into existence. In this moment the body releases various neurotransmitters like adrenaline as well as possibly serotonin and dopamine. This is why there is a sudden excitement and a rush throughout the body.

At the very moment an insight occurs, the brain gives off strong gamma-band waves. Gamma-band waves are the only frequency found in all parts of the brain and are seen when the brain simultaneously processes information across different regions. Gamma-band brain waves signify various parts of the brain forming a new map.

Fourth Stage: Action

The intense motivation from having an insight is short term. If you can get people to take tangible actions while the insight is close at hand, even just to commit to doing something later, this will be a big help to ensuring new ideas become reality. If you don’t take some action then and there the insight and new mental map is not reinforced and the insight is lost.

What I invite you to look at today and in your teaching (or working environment) is how are you setting up a reflective and insightful environment for yourself and others?
Any feedback?

I was having a conversation last week with a teacher about the change that has occured (and is occuring) in the world since the advent of the computer. I believe I was one of the lucky ones because I jumped on the wave right at the start.

I had my first PC at the age of 15 back in 1982. It was a black and white screened Tandy Model III with 48K RAM and I installed the floppy drive myself (it was initially a cassette driven PC). I bought it myself out of money I earned doing paper rounds. I had seen a mate of mine play around with a computer and I thought … that’s cool. My school didn’t get its first computers until Year 12 (1984) and we mainly played games on those Apple II’s. But these factors led me to choose a science/ engineering double degree as my preferred degree with a major in computer science.

I was there when the personal computer revolution began and then when the internet began I had already played around with it at University (we had the early versions of it at Monash). As someone who is an early Gen X person I was someone who was very different than most other Gen X’s. In terms of being able to adapt to this world … I was in the right place, at the right time, making the right choices.

This brings me to the current social media revolution that is occuring (see video below). We are in the midst of a breaking wave that some people are suggesting is the next revolution. It will impact our communication, our sense of the world, our relationships, marketing and advertising, how we perceive each other and the world. It can be a huge opportunity for us as educators to explore and educate our students in this world.

It can be scary and confronting as a teacher to understand and use the new technology. In fact Schools and the Education Department are quite slow in adjusting policy to deal with the changes occuring in the world.

What I have discovered as I work with students in an inquiry approach is that I don’t have to know how to use the technology. What I had to become skilled in was distinguishing what are the capacities I want to develop the students in and how can I use what they know to develop that. I have had to become more of a thoughtful coach, guider and applicator than the knowledge font. I am still a great collector of information and knowledge. I read the paper daily. I read articles and watch videos such as the above weekly. I talk to teachers and students and even my kids (who are 6 and 9 yrs old) about what they are doing.  I then share what I learn with others to instigate thoughts.

My question to you is … how are you facilitating and supporting your children and students in keeping abreast of this revolution. Are you a Luddite or an Innovator?

Are you preparing them for a 21st century world that is changing so quickly that a recent article suggested that in the next two decades we will advance technology-wise as much as we did in the last 5000 years.

This is not about just introducing technology to our schools and children. That would not work. This is about thoughtfully scaffolding learning and teaching such that we all grow and learn together and develop particular capacities in our community. Technology for the sake of having the latest gadgets is useless. And I have seen schools do that.

So while you have a Christmas break and you have time to think. Think about how can you use one piece of social media to improve your courses and have a go at it next year.

Merry Christmas and see you in 2010!

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