Meet Olly

I’d like to introduce you to to some hypothetical friends of mine

  • Olly
  • Jade
  • Ali
  • Verity
  • Dwayne

Now I’ll tell a brief snippet about each

  • One has been a single parent since the age of 21
  • One is a management consultant who lives in Surrey
  • One has a criminal record
  • One works in PR and lives in London
  • One is a medical doctor possibly at severe risk of being radicalised

I was recently on a panel about leadership at the Times Festival of Education 2015 and the inevitable (for any panel not entirely consisting of white males) question about diversity in school leadership came up. Annoyingly, I don’t think I answered entirely in the way which was expected. My response was to muse aloud with a rhetorical  question to the audience about what governing bodies and recruitment panels thought a leader looked like. In retrospect, I’ll also add, sounds like, laughs like, moves like.

Which of my hypothetical names did your gut automatically assign each of the brief statements?

Why?

Is mainstream success a desirable thing?

A few weeks ago I was invited to speak to an assembled group of educators, artists and youth workers with a passion for education and effecting change in their communities and wider society.

My talk was around the theme “Is mainstream success a desirable thing?.” It was tailored to the specific audience but had wide ranging themes which speak to any creative person, entrepreneur or passionate person wrestling with what to do to, and who to partner with, to ensure sure that their vision or ideas are seen and adopted by as many people as possible to change the world.

These two tweets probably best sum up what the talk was about.

1

I can’t provide a transcript as it was designed to be something heard, experienced and driven by audience interaction with but it was well received so the 8 sources that I built the talk around are below.

They are in no particular order, as the format of talk was non-linear and inspired by the ‘Choose your own adventure books’ that I read as a kid in the 80s

2

Let the quotes begin. Highlights are the specific parts used in my talk.

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1.0

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2.

3

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3.4

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4.5

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5.6

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6.7

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7.8

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8.9

So, in summary:  Know who you are and why you are motivated to do the work you do or create the art that you create. Then do it. Find the others who passionately believe in that vision/world view and partner with them. Mainstream success – however you choose to interpret it- or recognition may well be a side effect of that but unhappiness and disillusionment lies in having it as the main goal.

Sources/Inspiration (No, I haven’t Harvard ref’d)

  • Start with Why, Simon Sinek  (Chapter 3, The Golden Circle)
  • The Radical Vision of Toni Morrison, The New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/magazine/the-radical-vision-of-toni-morrison.html?partner=socialflow&smid=tw-nytmag&_r=0

  • Cecile Emeke isn’t worried about Hollywood, The New York Times magazine

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/20/magazine/cecile-emeke-isnt-worried-about-hollywood.html

  • UK Hip Hop Ed manifesto, Art of Curious blog

http://artofcurious.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/uk-hiphoped-manifesto.html

All that Twitters is not gold…

Aside

I’m going to say some things and many people reading aren’t going to like it.

But you know what? It’s fine. I can handle with dissent  and am happy to debate.  This blog is for me to consider my thoughts about issues largely related to my practice and evolve.  These issues have been floating around in my head for a while so here goes.

Twitter can be a bit of a mirror. Ppl look at it and see themselves. Many of us follow people that we like and agree with and forget that there is a wider world where ppl may not think these things.  So now I’m going to be a slightly heretical.

Most talk about Twitter from an educators point  of view focus on the positives ( of which admittedly there are many). If there are negatives mentioned its more to do with issues related to courtesy and rudeness of Tweeters rather than anything else.

I’d like to suggest that perhaps many of the things that we speak about as positives could at times be negatives.

Like minded professionals –By its very nature Twitter is self selecting, people are likely to be similar in some respects. It takes a certain type of person to comment about work issues in their personal time ( as many teachers on Twitter do). Dissent is surprisingly rare ( unless it’s against the Government) and when it comes sometimes people can be unfairly jumped upon or maybe just ignored just for expressing a  view slightly different.  Teachers on Twitter can forget that not everybody in schools are like us but hey that’s ok too.

CPD whenever you want it –I have been wondering whether Twitter encourages workaholism and further skews that work life balance that many educators say we want but then seek to actively destroy and ignore at seemingly  every opportunity. I  had an interesting discussion with somebody at work a few month ago a statement that they said  has stayed with me ” Every single day get into work at half past 7 and often stay until gone 6, on top of that I still have other things to do and there is always more. I know that you get a lot out of Twitter but the last thing I want to do is go home and talk about work and education in my personal time.”   The person I was talking to works hard and is a good teacher and do you know what, maybe she had a point.

Latest educational trends-In the educational world as with other areas of life these days, it seems that many things occur first on Twitter and the wider blogosphere. It’s immediacy  is part of the pull but it can also create a group speak, cultish effect at times. When I first became aware of Twitter many hashtags were about #SOLO now it seems to have moved on to #marginalgains ( of which more in a later post) there are great things about both of these but equally there may well be things that some educators feel don’t add any value.

In closing Twitter can be an excellent tool but let’s be balanced about things and realise that every ying has its yang- we need to be critical in our appraisal of things just as we ought to be encouraging those that we educate on a daily basis to be.

In the spirit of this I’m going to mention some Twitter contrarians who can always be relied on to disagree with something but who still want the best for students- @ethinking, @TheBullacademy. I’d give you more but maybe you should find your own or else we’ll all be having the same contrary voices which is against the whole spirit of this post.