Message found in a bottle of snake oil, in the Sargasso sea…

A friend of mine said, in a lovely,erudite presentation to some very smart folk:

“a weakness of my current thinking is a lack of explicitly encompassing the group, the social.”

Totally agree, we all lack this.

Re-examine page 49 of ‘Navigating Complexity: the essential guide to complexity theory in business and management’, written by myself.

Then think about that botanical nostrum – Early Years textbooks teach that there are three kinds of play in young humans and many mammals: 

  • individual play
  • parallel play
  • social play

Know that this is botany – classifying plants by the shape of their leaves. We observe the spots of a leopard, but what is the mechanism that creates them?

What are the primitives, the atomic irreducible processes that underly the phenomena?

We do not have a language to describe phenomena in groups. I  suspect they are incommensurable, like weather prediction after Lorenz.

We do not have a language to describe phenomena in groups.

This has hamstrung playwork, education, professional football, orchestral performance, NASA budgetary oversight inquiries, Air Accident Investigation, Corporate Fraud Investigation, etcetera etcetera.

There are clues in the Miles Davis approach to group play.

There are clues in Taoism, and Zen.

But as Sapir, Whof and Wittgenstein, and probably Gibson (JJ not W) would tell you, language shapes thought and we do not have the language. 

Try explaining how to put oil into a car without using any car-related, or engine-related words. Go on, try it. Write it down, now go through it and strike out any car-related and engine-related words that crept in. We don’t have a big enough RAM, our short-term memory, to hold even one sentence of the resulting tedious arm-waving stuttering verbiage.

Why doesn’t the world move when I shake my head?

~~~~~~



M’learned friend also said:

“This has many implications, but that main one is that we should judge education by the value created for stakeholders (laudate Tom) – this is fittingly complex and circular. 

NO NO NO, NO!

Very pleased that you rate teecha Tom.

Not stakeholders, feck stakeholders. Leave that to the Tory Goovey Gradgrindians.

I  think you might mean participants? If so then I‘ll semi-agree.

How would you judge a Beth Chatto garden? Answer that and you’ll know how to judge education .

~~~

Read Seedstock by Frank Herbert… full text here… https://momentoftime.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/seed-stock-frank-herbert/

I  cannot link to that story without rereading it, and when I  reread it, I  cannot help but be moved to tears.

~~~

Koan for you: “how can we value things without judging them?” asked the abbot.

Answers on a postcard to my fastness by Ruabon mountain, please, or via ‘e-mail’.

~~~

They need more training (lessons will be learned)

I used to think that. I used to think that training was good. Then I started to have doubts and then I found finite and Infinite Games by James Cause. “Education is what’s left over after training” I think he said. And “All training is about the past, education is about the future” and i realised that training want the answer.

American cops don’t kneel on black necks for nine minutes because they haven’t been properly trained. They do it because they have an attitude towards other human beings. Also, driving around dressed like SWAT-style Starwars stormtroopers might have a negative affect on community-minded bonhomie.

Somebody, some CEO, think it was Jack Welch, CEO of General Electrics, I think said “Hire for attitude; all the rest can be learned on the job.” Notice he said learned.

Learning on the job, very effective. But, unlike training, which these days is mostly Gradgrindian instruction anyway, you can’t control what they learn on the job. You can’t control what people learn, full stop.

Maybe they’ll learn to accept bribes, you know, free doughnuts and coffee, and maybe later, brown envelopes.

You need to police them.

See what i did there? Policing the police. Quis custodiet custodiens? Who watches the watchmen?

In this case the answer is quite simple, managers. Managers exist to manage their workforce. When they’re not asleep after free doughnuts.

Haven’t seen any managers in the dock alongside George Floyd’s state-sponsored murderer.

What I’m saying is, too many cops have the wrong attitude and you can’t change attitudes with fecking Powerpoint slides.

Maybe you need to manage what they learn.

Because lessons won’t be learnt. Mainly because that sentence parses out as “the results of a training event will permanently change behaviour in the targeted cohort”

What are these lessons? Who is learning them?

I memorised the 8 times table and the King’s of Queens of England. I learned my lessons. They taught me to hate history, a parade of robbing scumbags, or so it seemed to me at the time. Quite like that Lucy Worseley on the telly don’t dress-up, mind. Posh people on the BBC, it’s like the 1950s again. Is rickets back yet? Dolly blue?

Yes, lessons will be learned. They need more training.

Kill me now.

No not you officer, it’s just a figure of speech, please don’t.

blind men and elephants, naah… it’s worse 

blind men and elephants, naah… it’s worse
it’s more like people living at the bottom of their own private mineshaft,
gazing up at the flickers of light far above them,
like victorian families viewing daguerreotypes
projected by candle flame via an epidiascope.
Like this herbert…

​who obviously hasn’t read this ‘product’..​.

The Origins of Order – Stuart A. Kauffman – Oxford University …

https://global.oup.com › product › the-origins-of-order-9780195079517

​or maybe he has, but he certainly hasn’t read …
Systems of Survival: A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics (1992) ISBN 0-679-74816-4
​or 

The Nature of Economies (2000) New York: Random House, The Modern Library. ISBN 0-679-60340-9

…or maybe he has, and does not acknowledge it. Aeon should be ashamed to publish essays without references.

Another mineshaft dweller

 in his own little academic bubble, 

lord of his tiny intellectual domain. 

Another seeker of the one system, 

the one theory, 

the one ring, 

the theory of everything. 

There are a hundred theories of everything 

and they all hold fragments of the true cross, 

and they are all right in some ways

 and sooo wrong in others.

What is it useful to believe right now, grasshopper? 

Does that make you happy?

​Still, you gorra larf innit?​

An homage for Lou Spartz, unsung hero of ‘stuff’

Lou Spartz, who passed away recently was an adventure playground pioneer, who introduced Simon  Nicholson to the idea of kids doing stuff with old stuff that was lying around. Simon , being an architecture student, coined a confusing and intellectually reified terminology , based on his good friend’s own moniker. This slight playful moment, has now, courtesy of an academic journal, become a rod (a stick, louspart1, in the jargon) with which to beat children who put garden canes in the fabric tray. Aieee! Back in the day, we just called it stuff. Stuff. Stuff lying around.

LostWorkshops1: why lying to children is a parental dutyand lying to consultancy clients is a crime

This workshop, drawing on the work of Lakoff and Johnson, Postman and Weingartner, Dunbar, Tsoukas, Miyami, Minkoff, Vespuigi, Cohen and Stewart, Maturana and Hegel explores the complex relationship between truth, solidarity, tribal bonding, decision-making, leadership and socialisation, and the limitations of consultation and evaluation.

In today’s complex world of true lies and false facts, where the internet is blah blah.

To book this workshop contact Plexity. For more information, please reread.

Scarfolk Books have asked me to point out that they are not sponsoring this workshop and apologise for the misleading flyers.

#mumtoodadtoo school girls against boyswillbeboys

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2019/03/26/teen-boys-rated-their-female-classmates-based-looks-girls-fought-back/

“Yasmin Behbehani had just walked into her third-period health class when her friend asked her if she had seen the list.

““There’s a list of the girls’ names,” her friend Nicky Schmidt, a fellow senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Maryland, said. “And we’re ranked.” 

“Behbehani didn’t want to see the list, or know whether she was on it. She had spent the past four years recovering from an eating disorder, working hard to avoid comparing herself with others, she said. But by her sixth-period class on that Monday earlier this month, a text message appeared on her phone with a screenshot of the list, typed out on the iPhone Notes app.

“It included the names of 18 girls in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, ranked and rated on the basis of their looks, from 5.5 to 9.4, with decimal points to the hundredth place. There, with a number beside it, was Behbehani’s name.

“A group of male students in their program created the list more than a year ago, but it resurfaced earlier this month, through text messages and whispers during class. One male classmate, seeing the name of his good friend Nicky Schmidt on the list, told her about it, and within 24 hours, dozens of girls had heard about the list.

“Lists like this one had silently circulated among teen boys for generations, and it has happened in more recent years at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, too, the students said. But it was happening now, in the era of the #MeToo movement. Women had been standing up to harassment in workplaces and on college campuses and the high school girls, who had been witnessing this empowerment, decided they weren’t going to let the issue slide.”

~

Superb fight back.

I’m increasingly of the belief that all presidents should be replaced by three 8 year old girls.

If anyone’s interested, I can say why in some detail.

You can’t think about complexity if you can’t think in grey, not just black and white

http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/2019/03/the-world-of-gray.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TeacherTom+%28Teacher+Tom%29

“Preschoolers are notoriously drawn toward extremes, which is, I reckon, both part of how they make sense of the world as well as how they try to assert some control over it. It’s the simplest way to categorize things: good or bad, yummy or yucky, black or white. As adults working with young children, it’s tempting for us to assert our own more mature vision of the world, to point them toward the gray areas, the “in between” that comprises most of what we know. When I was a younger teacher, for instance, I can’t tell you how many times I found myself futilely trying to get kids to see that “good guys” and “bad guys” are a matter of perspective.

” I no longer try to persuade them any more than I try to persuade adults. I’ve come to understand that they need to explore the world in this way. It’s not an ending point, but rather a natural starting point for coming to grips with a rich, complex, ever-changing world. They are doing what they need to do, what we all needed to do in order to ultimately persuade ourselves as the world of gray begins to reveal itself to us. My job is not to hurry them through, but rather to be with them, role modeling and knowing that the older they get, the more they will come to know that they don’t know.”

 

 

Childrensaving and Ship Building (NB: it’s Shipbuilding, all one word)

Currently, Wallsend is having its children saved. Hurrah.

Childrensaving is happening, thanks to a government-funded programme, delivered by a national children’s charity, saviours of  children, heroes in their own lunchtime {a lunch of rocket, kale and organic polenta, to be precise}.

This is part of the ongoing long-term —some things are long-term, aren’t they— the ongoing long-term deracination and outsourcing of the role of local government in the public realm.

Successive governments, red and blue and yellow, have decided that local government can’t be trusted. Central government prefers to impose 3rd sector agencies from London on communities, because local government is infested with a ‘can’t-do’ mentality and is bogged down in local politics and can’t make the thrusting managerialist interventions, on absurdly short timescales [ie. before the next election], that politicians command but can’t control.

If you wanted to talk about shipbuilding to people in Wallsend, which is the topic today, BTW, you might start by learning that shipbuilding is all one word, it’s not Ship Building. A ship building would be the hut in which you keep your little rowing boat, by a river bank. Or is it riverbank? A river bank would be a bank in which you keep rivers, or something.

So anyway, here is The Theory Which Will Transform Wallsend, starting from the ‘Past Context’ of “Ship Buildings (Lost)”…Wallsend Children_s Community Initial Overarching Theory of Change

And here is another Theory of Change…

 

You’re all busy people who don’t have time to listen to some bloody lefty pop song from 1982, so here’s the lyrics for all you busy managers who need it one side of A4 by 9 o’clock tomorrow morning…

Is it worth it?
A new winter coat and shoes for the wife
And a bicycle on the boy’s birthday
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
By the women and children
Soon we’ll be shipbuilding
Well, I ask you
The boy said, Dad, they’re going to take me to Task
But I’ll be back by Christmas?
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
Somebody said that someone got filled in
For saying that people get killed in
The result of  The shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
A telegram or a picture postcard
Within weeks, they’ll be re-opening the shipyards
And notifying the next of kin, once again
It’s all we’re skilled in
We will be shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
It’s all we’re skilled in
We will be shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
When we could be diving for pearls
When we could be diving for pearls

 

Great Big Story : A Fold Apart: Origamist Robert Lang’s Incredible Paper Creations

https://www.greatbigstory.com/stories/folded-universe-the-astonishing-beauty-of-origami

Just astonishing.

And the practical applications are also breathtaking.

Organisation, management. 

One side of A4 indeed, o, managers.

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

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…

 

 

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

Nailing the managerialist lie: management is not generic

“In the 1960s, an interesting series of experiments was done on air-traffic controllers’ mental capacities. Researchers wanted to explore if they had a general enhanced ability to ‘keep track of a number of things at once’ and whether that skill could be applied to other situations. After observing them at their work, researchers gave the air-traffic controllers a set of generic memory-based tasks with shapes and colours. The extraordinary thing was that, when tested on these skills outside their own area of expertise, the air-traffic controllers did no better than anyone else. Their remarkably sophisticated cognitive abilities did not translate beyond their professional area.” 

 

 Alistair Crowley’s Organisational Pentacle

The notion that there are general thinking skills is closely allied to the managerialist notion of the the generic manager, moving effortlessly from managing a supermarket to managing an opera house or a hospital. From Barclays to the BBC.

I have an equation I like to share at this point:

P+A ≠ M+T

That is to say that the model of professionals supported by administrators is not replaceable by the model of managers directing technicians.

When was the last time you heard the term ‘managerial judgement’?

https://aeon.co/ideas/why-schools-should-not-teach-general-critical-thinking-skills