Listening: kids are really really good at it, and managers are mainly awful at it…

The first word of Miles Davis’ autobiography is LISTEN. He described jazz as being about “freedom and space to hear things”

I often declare that I will write a book called “Everything I Learnt About Management I Learnt From Playworking.” A bit like a preschool version of Mark McCormack’s  “Things they don’t teach you at Springfield Elementary”. (But I digress,and I’m also in danger of revealing my punchline.)

🎶 You can’t improvise if you don’t listen.

🏭 You can’t manage if you don’t listen. 

🗽You can’t lead if you don’t listen. 

Here are somebody else’s wise words about listening: please listen…

“They are always listening. Not just to the words we say to them, but those we say in their presence to others. That is their real learning environment. When we managers take that seriously, that’s when our people begin to make us better managers, the kind who think about the words they say and the tones we use with the people in our lives. They make us work to become the managers we’ve always wanted to be, if only because that’s the sort of person we want them to be.

“Our staff don’t learn anything from obedience other than how to command and control, a dubious education at best. They learn everything else by listening (and watching, of course). Real learning requires processing, repetition, time, and experience to fully comprehend. It takes place on their schedule, not yours, which is why it can seem as if they are not listening. But they are: know it, and strive to be the manager you want them to be. That’s the real work of management.”

Read more here:

https://goo.gl/bNNIOq

…it’s probably not playwork…

Greetings, loyal readers, and passers-by. Today’s topic is playwork (again).
“I know it’s wrong of me, but when I read the newspaper headline, Out-Of-Control Kids Driving Wichita Teachers Away, Union Says, I felt a little like cheering. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m against anyone hitting, biting, or engaging in property damage, which are among the things this article alleges. I am fully supportive of teacher’s unions that fight for both educators and students. And I have nothing but respect for public school teachers, whose already difficult jobs have been made even more difficult over the past couple decades as anti-child policies like No Child Left Behind (Bush), Race to the Top (Obama), and Common Core (Gates), are turning our schools into high-pressure, drill-and-kill, test-taking coal mines. Yet still, when I read that headline I could only think, “Damn straight, the kids are fighting back.”

“I mean, public schools have never exactly been a bastions of freedom, and kids, like all humans, love freedom.”
What he is describing is recalcitrance. Kicking back against the System.
That’s why I called THAT presentation the Edge of Recalcitrance.
“It’s shocking, frankly, that we didn’t rebel more than we did: it’s a testament to the capacity of children to thrive under any circumstances. But now consider that the pressure has been slowly increased over the past couple decades: high-stakes standardized testing and the millions of hours of test prep; the narrowing of the curriculum to focus almost exclusively on math and literacy at the expense of life-savers like the arts, wood shop, physical education, home economics; the slashing of budgets leaving schools poorly maintained and and supplied; and a drive toward longer school days and school years. “
 
“I assure you that I, a generally well-mannered kid who was good at school, would have rebelled a long time ago.”
Playwork starts where teaching stops.
Teachers have to leave when they become recalcitrant. Resign or be sacked or obey the system, your call, pal.
Google John Taylor Gatto. New York teacher of the year. Three times. On the day of the award ceremony, to be his 3rd time as T of the Y, he walked. He walked, but not before he told them what he thought of what they were doing to the kids.
Like teachers, playworkers have choices.
Teaching is about educating children, supporting their learning, not doing the stuff that Tom describes being done to them in his blog.
Your job, as playworkers, is to work with the recalcitrance of the weasels, to hold a space in which they can be free to become, to do, to be. To doo be doo be do, if that’s what they wanna do.If you can’t do that, then what you are doing may be useful, or worthy, or positive…
andnotbut™…
It’s probably not playwork.

Thinking in Systems

 Donella H. Meadows
“So, what is a system? A system is a set of things—people, cells, molecules, or whatever—interconnected in such a way that they produce their own pattern of behavior over time. 

A system is an interconnected set of elements that is coherently organized in a way that achieves something. We can’t impose our will on a system. We can listen to what the system tells us, and discover how its properties and our values can work together to bring forth something much better than could ever be produced by our will alone.

There are no separate systems. The world is a continuum. Where to draw a boundary around a system depends on the purpose of the discussion.

We know a tremendous amount about how the world works, but not nearly enough. Our knowledge is amazing; our ignorance even more so… 

You can drive a system crazy by muddying its information streams. Purposes are deduced from behavior, not from rhetoric or stated goals.

Missing information flows is one of the most common causes of system malfunction. Adding or restoring information can be a powerful intervention, usually much easier and cheaper than rebuilding physical infrastructure. 

Remember, always, that everything you know, and everything everyone knows, is only a model. Get your model out there where it can be viewed. Invite others to challenge your assumptions and add their own.

Thou shalt not distort, delay, or withhold information.”

― Donella H. Meadows, 

Thinking in Systems: A Primer
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donella_Meadows
Donella H. Meadows (March 13, 1941 – February 20, 2001) was a pioneering American environmental scientist, teacher, and writer. She is best known as lead author of the influential book “The Limits to Growth” and “Thinking in Systems: a Primer”

( from the excellent: https://creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com )

Old management whine in VUCA bottles…

http://www.trainingzone.co.uk/lead/strategy/vuca-leadership-why-you-need-it-and-how-to-develop-it

Paradigm shift/leadingedge/bluesky/fad cycle/ same old same old.Yada

Yada

Yada yada.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemsley_Fraser

Buy our stuff.

Yada Yada

And…

I’m sure they are lovely people doing lovely things, andnotbut™, I’m afraid I have to say: old management whine in VUCA bottles…

 

 

Finally, somebody is realising that measures might be a problem!

“Outcome measures in research about treatment and service provision may not seem a particularly controversial or even exciting domain for citizen involvement. Although the research landscape is changing – partly as a result of engaging stakeholders in knowledge production and its effects – the design of outcome measures has been largely immune to these developments.

“The standard way of constructing such measures – for evaluating treatment outcomes and services – has serious flaws and requires an alternative that grounds them firmly in the experiences and situations of the people whose views are being solicited.”

Thank you, dear academics and researchers, for noticing!

https://i2insights.org/2017/02/21/user-design-of-outcome-measures/

This is why you should say no to Big Data

https://m.facebook.com/ArtLearning/photos/a.402772463087922.99151.402701759761659/1367923639906128/?type=3

The following is taken directly from the link, with the tacit approval of the owner, who wishes to widely disseminate these views and information:

Competency Based Education: The New Reformer Scheme for Collecting Common Core Aligned Data from Children Every Single Day of the Week…

“CBE (Comptency Based Education) is a data driven education system that follows a set of prescribed standards and requires demonstration of “competency” before advancement. It has embedded testing within the curriculum that collects hidden streams of data via unknown algorithms. Stealth, continuous data–collected by vendors, can be shared with third parties–parental consent not needed. The goal is to digitalize education so data can be collected and, remember, data is gold.” 

~Sue Kingery Woltanski 

Competency Based Education: Destroying Public Schools One Profitable Data Point at a Time https://accountabaloney.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/competency-based-education-destroying-public-schools-one-profitable-data-point-at-a-time/

Competency Based Ed- the culmination of the common core agenda. https://stopcommoncorenys.wordpress.com/2015/11/03/competency-based-ed-the-culmination-of-the-common-core-agenda/

CBE Online is Neither Personalized Nor Higher-Order Thinking! (Nancy Bailey) http://nancyebailey.com/2016/01/23/cbe-online-is-neither-personalized-nor-higher-order-thinking/

Great Schools Partnership and the Covert Agenda of Assessment Reform (Emily Kennedy Talmage) http://emilytalmage.com/2016/01/27/great-schools-partnership-and-the-covert-agenda-of-assessment-reform/

Competency Based Education (Read with care, this reformer website puts you inside the Mothership of the new Common Core aligned Snake oil the reformers are selling) http://excelined.org/competency-based-education/

Digital Learning Now- From Cohorts to Competency – “provides specific guidance regarding the adoption of Common Core State Standards and the shift to personal digital learning.” http://digitallearningnow.com/site/uploads/2013/01/CB-Paper-Final.pdf

Grisly truth about a system

 

“When I tried to sort this out by phone I was passed between offices, each denying it was its responsibility. Hours of hold music, occasionally being cut off – until eventually I was told there had been a computer error and I should visit my local Jobcentre Plus with evidence of my brother’s status.

“When I got there, I was told I needed to go to a different branch because of my postcode. When I pleaded with the staff member simply to stamp my letter rather than send me to the other office to get it stamped there, I was told: “If I do it for you I have to do it for everyone.”

“I looked around the empty office and said that there was no one else, but she refused. I repeated – calmly I might add – that this was for my brother, who was severely disabled. But then a security guard came over and shouted at me to remain behind the line. I asked: “What line?” – there was no line. He shouted that I wasn’t allowed to pass the edge of the desk that separated the staff member from me.

“If this had not been for my brother, at this point I would have been in tears. As I looked around, I thought how my university degrees, my 20 years working as a professional and my supposedly good people skills were all completely useless here. I felt humiliated. I wondered how this experience would make people feel who have to come to Jobcentre Plus and are vulnerable and in need: motivated, or to want to just give up?”

Read the full thing here:

https://amp.theguardian.com/society/2017/feb/15/ken-loach-tells-the-grisly-truth-about-benefits

Read, and weep.

This is people behaving like machines. It may well be cheaper, especially given government’s track record with IT, to train humans to act like machines than to train machines to act human.