Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Curran Curran: Kindness & Homework

Two days before Christmas, no time for a blog post... or to talk shop. I could easily use the excuse that there's only 4 weeks before the UK Digital Citizenship Summit and there's lots to do. But that's not the reason for the post... this one is personal.

There's a young lad called Curran Dee who I need to apologize to because my crazy ideas have taken a good deal of his moms time over the last few weeks.

I'll be writing to Curran privately but I wanted to let him and others know the value of kindness and doing your homework... and the role that both have had in what has become a bit of a crazy month for the people involved.

#DigCitSummitUK: The first 4 weeks
  • A Tweet and Skype call has lead to a conference being organized by crowdsourcing by a growing group of educators
  •  Has lead to the establishment of “Connected Educator Appreciation Day”
  • An event being arranged on the 23rd Jan at Bournemouth University
  • Sponsorship from Barclay’s Digital Eagles so the event will be free to delegates
  • 74 people interested in speaking at the event
  • Over 4,000 Tweets about the #DigCitSummit since the first event on the 3rd October
That was before the Thunderclap earlier in the week that reached over 600,000 Twitter accounts


Kindness
I've been trying to find a home for the ideas that I've helped to implement in the last four weeks for the last 3 years, but few people wanted to know or even took a moment to listen to the ideas.

I filled out application forms for grants and sent my CV along with these ideas to various organisations and reached out to the great and the good of the Further Education Technology Action Group to share my ideas and research.

After spending two years focusing in one area of education I moved on. Pitching in and helping with the #SaveEdShelf campaign made me realise that UK Further Education Colleges wasn't the best place to try to explore these ideas.

#SaveEdShelf 12 Months Later:
A Little Empathy Goes a Long Way
I try to ensure that I "Always Show my Friendship First" and do "5 minute Favours" as and when I can. I would also have said that the kindness of three people made the last 4 weeks possible.

Ramona Pierson
In March I wrote to Ramona Pierson the Chief Executive of Silicon Valley startup Declara which was about to launch their social learning platform.

Ramona who was kind enough to reply to my letter of introduction and my crazy ideas, she and her colleagues also helped me understand why some of these ideas were not being adopted and encouraged me continue to pursue them.

Ideas can come from anybody... and anywhere
Bob Baldie
In September I wrote a post that was intentionally a little grumpy in tone. The reason for this was to see if educators in Scotland were open minded enough to engage with someone who was being slightly dismissive of the parochial outlook and the apparent waste of money on expensive consultations when initiatives in other areas were working well.

Bob Baldie was one of the people who replied to Tweets on an Education Scotland account. Bob was able to see past the snarkiness and was keen to engage with me and understand my perspective.

This led me to wonder if the culture in Scotland would be a good place to test these ideas... I was soon to find that they were not, but it only took 3 months as opposed to 2 years to discover.

Marialice Curran
Curran, your mum may have been a little busy over the last month but she has been one of the kindest, most considerate and empathetic people that I have ever met while I've been involved with education... or anywhere for that matter!
I'm not sure where it will all end up but she's achieved more in four weeks than many teams would achieve in months.

No doubt the speakers and delegates at the UK Digital Citizenship Summit will be taking about social media and technology a great deal.

One on the biggest lessons that I learned about with social media is that it's not the number of followers that you have or the technology that you use, what matters is that you engage with people in a meaningful way.

Whether online or "IRL" I keep the words of Shackleton and Emerson in mind. 

 “Some people say it is wrong to regard life as a game; I don't think so, life to me means the greatest of all games. The danger lies in treating it as a trivial game, a game to be taken lightly, and a game in which the rules don't matter much. The rules matter a great deal. The game has to be played fairly, or it is no game at all. And even to win the game is not the chief end. The chief end is to win it honourably and splendidly. To this chief end several things are necessary. Loyalty is one. Discipline is another. Unselfishness is another. Courage is another. Optimism is another. And chivalry is another.”  Shackleton

"To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded" Emerson

Based on Emerson's definition I can tell you that your mom has overwhelming succeeded!

Homework
The kindness of these three people will not be forgotten in a hurry, but I would not have been able to implement any of these ideas if I had not done my homework.

If I had not listened in on EdChats like #DigCit we might not have the results that we have today. I followed #EdTechChat for over a year and a lot of the ideas being implemented at the moment came from listening to what I felt the issues were based on listening to the experts.
  • I felt bad when EdChat Moderators were not able to attend Tweetups at events like ISTE
  • I noticed how educators were getting frustrated with suppliers at conferences, but the reaction to the TweechMeApp was very different to the reaction of other suppliers
  • I saw how EdReform was more likely to come from educators and technology companies than from our "Right Honourable" politicians  
  • I saw that current sales practices were becoming more and more unwelcome and that new models would be prevalent soon... I saw the value in attempting to reskill.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I saw that the pace of change was so fast and the education/skills gap so great that the best (and possibly only) answer to this challenge is that diverse groups of reformers and change agents need to come together to discuss their ideas in a SAFE, SAVVY and ETHICAL way where everyone's views and voice is welcome.

Curran, when you're mom told me about her event and what it stood for I'd done my homework, I felt I knew what was needed and knew who to contact. I hope that my core values played a role to some extent in how the people in my PLN responded to your mom's #DigCitSummit.

I look forward to seeing you next month, in the mean time I hope you have a great Christmas and I'll leave you with the wise words of Max Ehrman.
    Desiderata

    Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
    and remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible without surrender
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
    and listen to others,
    even the dull and the ignorant;
    they too have their story.

    Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
    they are vexations to the spirit.
    If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain and bitter;
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

    Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
    it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
    Exercise caution in your business affairs;
    for the world is full of trickery.
    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
    many persons strive for high ideals;
    and everywhere life is full of heroism.

    Be yourself.
    Especially, do not feign affection.
    Neither be cynical about love;
    for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
    it is as perennial as the grass.

    Take kindly the counsel of the years,
    gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
    But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
    Beyond a wholesome discipline,
    be gentle with yourself.

    You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

    Therefore be at peace with God,
    whatever you conceive Him to be,
    and whatever your labors and aspirations,
    in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy.

    Max Ehrman

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