Archive for November, 2010

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TODAY’S DILEMMA

November 11, 2010

Frequent followers of this blog probably know I became a great supporter of Daniel Pink after attending a University Lecture Series event strictly by chance some five years ago.  Here I was introduced not only to Pink but to a whole new way of thinking as he talked about what led him to write “A Whole New Mind”. Not only did I learn about concepts such as the Creative Class and the Conceptual Age, but it launched the beginnings of my exploration of the 21st century’s version of adult learning models – theories pretty revolutionary from what I lived by in the 70s and 80s during my career in the world of Motivation and Performance Improvement.

Early last year, Pink published his third book, “Drive” and with the introduction of Motivation 3.0 truly stopped me in my tracks.  It took some time and reminders to keep an open mind to get on board, but that I did – although I had some trepidation about some things.  I was looking forward to talking with him in person when he was featured as the guest author at Barnes and Noble in February so off I went – early to get a good seat- to the Galleria, and was sorely disappointed to learn he was stuck on the West Coast and would not make it to Minnesota. 

So, I was especially excited to get another chance when I saw he would be speaking at a luncheon at the Depot today and made a mental note to follow up and get a ticket.

Not so fast!  Today is also the November ISES meeting with Ken Kristoffersen sharing his thoughts and knowledge on Experiential Design – another of my passions and thus a Must Attend. Because, again for followers of the blog, I am equally passionate about  event design  and working to get people within our industry to understand that event design relates to message and desired outcomes, how to engage an audience and start a dialog  and create an immersive experience – and not simply the design of the shell – or look- of an event. 

So I have wrestled with this conflict for days…I’m a founder of this ISES chapter that pushed hard to get a charter– I have to support it…it’s a topic that’s dear to me…I already paid for ticket…but on the other hand, this is the first appearance by Pink in Minneapolis in five years …he is one of the pioneers of this whole new way of thinking-a thought-leader that challenges me to think differently…truly, this was a dilemma. 

But in the end, a client’s needs and the commitment to the chapter reigned supreme- and so I am off to listen and interact with Ken.  If you are not an ISES member and have the time – go see Daniel Pink and call me to share some dialog on his latest thinking!  I promise you, if you don’t know his work – it will get you thinking a new way! Wish I could be there to share it.

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THE FISCH FLIP

November 10, 2010

Back in September, a Jeff Hurt blog shared a Dan Pink concept of “Flip Thinking” that caught my attention.

As background, Karl Fisch, a high-school math teacher has flipped the traditional classroom model for education.  He uses YouTube to record his lectures and assigns them as homework to his students.  The classroom is reserved for interaction and student engagement as they participate in activities, exercises, questions and discussions that stem from watching YouTube video.

What an innovative thought!  Students listen on their own as after all, listening is indeed an individual activity and this medium allows each to replay portions they did not catch or understand, spending as much time as they want or is necessary to grasp the concept and message.  This reserves the classroom for activities, exercises, questions and discussions, all facilitated by the teacher.  To me, this seems a lot smarter than expecting parents to assist with homework when, at best, they are at least a generation removed from the latest thinking or body of knowledge on any given topic!

I had a “Eureka” moment when Hurt then moved on to postulate we consider flipping the conference education model as well.    The standard lecture presentation is available online pre-conference to registered attendees.  They listen, try out concepts, and come to the conference with questions, best practices and examples of how they applied the concept.  The on-site session, like the flipped classroom, is facilitated by the presenter and becomes an interactive and engaging experience for all attendees.

For six weeks now, I have continued to ruminate on the possibilities and have jumped from the conference setting to a corporate meeting, as I envision a world in which CEO shares his vision, state of the company, needed outcomes, or whatever his message for the meeting might be via the intranet prior to the meeting, leaving time for the audience to react, ruminate, and raise questions.  All of this could then be gathered pre-meeting as basis for the at-meeting conversations and dialogues .  This also allows the standard general session expense to be put to better use in interactive experiences that involve and engage the audience to create a more meaningful experience. 

And along the way, I continue to come back to the education experience envisioning a world where bureaucracy no longer rules and it would be easy to implement without jumping the hurdles of “that is not the way it is done”.

So what a surprise when I read in the Strib on Tuesday that the U of M College of Liberal Arts – forced by budget cuts- has been brainstorming possible changes in curriculum, organization, schedules and….a variation on the theme above as they thought “What if graduate students gave the lectures and the faculty met in small groups with the students?”  Once I got past long-ago personal experiences of hard-to-understand student teachers with English as a second language, and a knee-jerk reaction to additional time commitments, I realized this is exactly the kind of innovative application Hurt held up in the Fisch Flip. 

Perhaps these thoughts are all seeds of the 21st century Learning Revolution we are striving for!  We may not have the solution nailed yet, but good people are having good thoughts as they search for a better way.  Stay tuned on this one.

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A GLIMMER OF HOPE…

November 9, 2010

This morning’s editorial pages in the Strib (other than one column of space wasted on Bachman) were filled with opinions about how the elections will impact taxes and the looming expiration of the Bush Tax cuts. 

And of course, most reflect extreme positions on either side of the issue and the continuing buy-in to rhetoric whether it is based on fact or fiction from either side.  But with a header of “On taxes, let’s get Bush out of the equation”, a column reproduced from the Bloomberg News caught my attention. 

The Bush Tax Reform was passed by the majority in Congress with an expiration date of December 31, 2010.  One has to assume, then, that it reflected the majority of the people of the United States, right? This was a TEMPORARY cut – a stimulus to keep us going as threat of a serious recession loomed ahead in the early 2000’s. 

Please don’t digress into the assumptions that the Republicans fully expected it would become permanent on 12/31/10 and the Democrats fully expected it would expire, but the only way it would get passed is to set a date far enough out in the future to give hope to both sides, that they would have enough control in 2010 to get their way.  As we know, that did not happen; so let’s just move on.

Instead of stimulating growth because of the extra dollars it put in business and consumer pockets,  the growth we experienced in this century’s first decade was brief and  based on consumer spending that exceeded personal income as America lived on credit cards and home equity loans to falsely manufacture the appearance of economic growth, as our consumption was enabled by irresponsible financial institutions.  And we all know what that led to – The Great Recession of the Bush Administration – for which we are still suffering.

It did not work, folks – just like the tax cuts in early Reagan years did not work.  Maybe we are supposed to let the country try again – so that when a third attempt also fails we can stand up like the umpire and signal, with three strikes “You’re Out”! And then going forward, have we put this battle to bed?

I think not.  Hence, Kevin Hassett’s column caught my eye, as he positioned we let the tax reform as it stands expire as planned.  And what would we have then?  AN OPPORTUNITY!

An opportunity to go forward neither defending nor attacking the inherent issues with the that temporary bill…an opportunity to start with a clean slate…an opportunity to clearly define the issue in plain terms, brainstorm possible options to alleviate the problem, and through consensus and collaboration reach agreement and common ground.   In truth, we all know we need a tax overhaul.  Wouldn’t it be simpler to accomplish if we did not have to divert our energies to defending  or attacking old baggage?   Out of a disaster, can we not mold a better way?  Isn’t that the American dream and mantra?

Hassert purports that if we start from scratch and collaborate as adults, Obama could deliver on the promise of change, and the Republicans could lock in their political gains of this election by showing voters they can govern effectively.  A WIN-WIN for the American people?    A phrase that has almost disappeared from our  vocabulary as we wrestle in this false fight to protect the past.

According to the NY Federal Reserve, somehow over the last 21 months, the American people have reduced their personal debt by almost $1 trillion!  Perhaps that new tax bill could incorporate their methods and we could not only put an end to this meaningless tax argument, but show some reduction in the national debt as well!

And wouldn’t it be music to our ears to get the ineffective “Bush Tax Cuts” out of the conversation?

I know, I’m dreaming – but all it took was that glimmer of hope to take away for a few moments the despair regarding the current situation.  So I thought I should share.

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THE DECLINE OF CREATIVITY

November 6, 2010

Yesterday, driving home from yet another eye appointment, I was listening to MPR Midmorning Show with Kerri Miller.  Guests were Po Bronson and Shelly Carson discussing the lack of teaching of creativity in schools. The experts gathered in the studio and contributing callers via phone once again reinforced a position I have been studying and following for the past few years.  Brain and learning research over the last twenty years has changed how we should be thinking about education of our children.  Creativity  quotients (think innovation) have been decreasing in public schools since sometime in the late 1950s and we continue to rest on our laurels of American successes gained during the first 2/3 of the 20th century – with minimal progress since.

Right Brain/Left Brain theories are out the window.  One can be taught creativity and innovation if the focus of education includes problem-solving, not just high scores on tests.  This is not a movement led by a single person trying to revolutionize the world to his way of thinking.  This is 20 years of amassed facts by a growing body of experts with not only research but case studies to back up their theories.

Just last week, I was enjoying breakfast at the Nicollet Island Inn and overheard (and I confess, then eves-dropped) on a conversation at the next table.  Two gentlemen were discussing break-throughs in bringing design method of learning to K-12; teaching collaboration, socialized learning, and patterning learning found in Design Schools such as the School of Architecture with good results – as they explored how they could work together to bring these results into the forefront in the Minneapolis community. 

And yet, the public discourse on the topic remains tightly held in the hands of politicians wrestling with teachers, administration, parents and the teachers unions over old-school methods , using historical 20th century results  and disproven truths to support why they are RIGHT in their antiquated thinking.  

Surely, education experts focusing on what we know today about learning and innovation should get their chance on the stage soon – but I am not optimistic.  We are so caught up in preserving the 20th century “America Rules” mentality that we cannot open our minds to how we can move forward –despite all signals pointing to the wave of American world dominance is over.

As for me, unfortunately, since I was driving and somewhat distracted by my eye issues, I do not recall all the details of the MPR discussion…so two new books are added to my “Must Read” list – Carson’s “The Creative Brain” and Bronson’s “NutureShock: New Thinking about Children”. 

 So like it or not, expect to hear more on this topic in the future!