Here is a copy of the article written by Professor Ilfryn Price and myself on space (spatial ecologies) and how spatial environments affects our learning and working. It is published in the recent Royal Society of Arts Journal. There is also an interesting article in this edition by George Clarke called ‘Restoration Britain’.
My good friend Camilo Mendoza has now opened his river lodge in Patagonia. He operates his own adventure company, and works with organisations doing outdoor and adventure training. Now his new addition to his portfolio is his river lodge. It is in a stunning location and there are lots of adventures that can be easily planned for you. Last time I was out with him we did kayaking with the best kayaker in Chile and paddled in a superb lake with four or five volcanic snow capped mountains around us. If you need a really great adventure in the river lodge then check out www.biobioriverlodge.com
I would love to my son out there when he is 10, in a couple of years from now. So I think I am going to start saving up, and do some planning. Camilo and I are both giving keynote speeches at the next International Conference on Experiential Learning in Lima, Peru from 15-19th July. The conference details are on www.icel2013.com
My experience of being present on board a plane but recorded as a Missing Passenger from Langkawi to KL last year was stressful and the consequences potentially serious. The situation has now finally been resolved so I thought I would report back. The result is that KLM have lost my custom for my next flight to Kuala Lumpur in July this year. Malaysia Airlines responded positively by booking me a special discounted flight as a gesture of goodwill, and offering emergency exit seats at no cost on the A 380 Airbus. Their staff picked up my blog, responded in person with calls and e-mails to me. KLM on the other hand took back the gifted champagne that they gave me on the flight when I went to board the flight to Manchester, asked me to fill in three forms (lost luggage, lost extra leg room seat paid for, and details of the missing passenger incident from Langkkawi) and to find them myself on the website. KLM seem to use the ‘donotreply@’ e-mail addresses a lot these days! It is interesting that getting to speak to real people to give customer feedback when there is cause for complaint seems increasingly difficult – and in my view highlights which companies are really providing a quality customer service. Back home in the UK this weekend I had a great time working with Anaesthetists in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Liverpool, and also in the Maritime Museum. I was asked to do the after dinner speech at their conference, act as a judge for a series of research presentations, and deliver two workshops on Giving Feedback. I developed an interesting technique for one section of the session using paired words for group discussion, after which each team had to construct a narrative thread about the nature of feedback along the paired word sequence. Each group listened to other group narratives and a wider discussion then started about key principles. The response after the event has been very good. It is always rewarding to work with other professions, and get a glimpse into their world of work. I certainly learnt a great deal about the difficult circumstances and pressures that their work involves. I was particularly interested in their use of high reality simulations for learning from critical incidents in clinical situations. I am working elsewhere also with other NHS topics, including Organisational Development programmes, and assertiveness. I am of course a supporter of the NHS, and believe the Olympic Opening Ceremony in London was a symbolic Gold Medal for our UK NHS.
I recently went to seek guidance from a financial advisor and it was well worthwhile. Out of interest he asked me about my role as a life coach. Afterwards I thought that perhaps a few people might be interested to know what life coaching entails. In my case I am more than aware that life is very challenging at times, and so the ability to focus on positive things, by doing continuous work towards getting the most from life should perhaps also be worth investing time and money in! At times life can be very hard, and perhaps mundane, and at other times life just seems great. This is typical of the rollercoaster of life, and so we have to embrace both with grace! There are many theories on the subject of human needs, however one I like is that of Max Neef and his work on general life needs and satisfyers. He argues that many people get hooked on pseudo-satisfyers that don’t really sustain us for very long. Shopping for material things is one such satisfyer that tends to be short lived. My approach to life coaching is to focus on and identify deeper more satisfying needs, and I work with some of the more interesting six core essentials of life: namely belonging (people, places and nature) , doing (what do we like doing want to do but don’t etc), sensing (sensory intelligence is really key to knowing our satisfyers), feeling (feelings both current and desired), knowing (knowledge is important for self-actualisation) and being (self transformation, mindfulness, presence, identity, ego). These aspects of life are where we have some of our fundamental human needs over and above subsistence needs, physiological needs, and health and safety needs. You might recognise the six core areas as they are also the basis of the whole person experiential learning model and in the third edition we cover some of these coaching issues.
I will be giving a Professorial Lecture, open to the public, for the University of Derby at a place that was described by Prince Charles as a ‘truly remarkable building’. The building is known as The Dome in Buxton in the heart of the Peak District National Park (the first National Park in the UK). The lecture/talk, will be in the evening of 23rd May 2013 at 6pm. I will be talking about learning and working in the knowledge economy: exploring how we learn and how learning affects how we work, and why learning and working are becoming convergent phenomena. What we know about learning is now much more advanced: we have moved on from old ideas that started with watching animal behaviour and thinking about how animals learned (ethology)! These ideas were even tried and tested out on people in factories!
Today the differences between learning and working are being eroded, as more people work in the knowledge industries. Information is easy to locate – what we do with knowledge, and how we learn from experience is key. I will also explore how physical buildings and the internal spatial design can facilitate changes in the behaviour of individuals and even whole organisations; space has considerable potential to liberate people and increase effectiveness in working and learning. One of the examples to be referred to looks at the refurbishment and redesign of the UK anti-terrorist monitoring establishment, which looks not unlike a football stadium from the air – why is this, and how has its new shape affected the way people work……..?
Experiential Learning out in Asia: The new programmed visit to Asia for August 2013 is now looking very busy indeed! In Singapore I am hoping to deliver (1) a two day corporate programme and a one or two day staff development programme for an outdoor learning organisation. I am also delivering a three day corporate programme in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and a two or possibly three day lecturer and early researcher LTA development programme at a University in Kuala Lumpur the following week. Phew! I think my case will again be heavy not with clothes but with lots of working materials for creating interesting learning experiences! Out in the Asia region at the same time will be my friend Dr. Roger Greenaway, who is an international specialist in reviewing skills. We are (again) running (for the second time) a corporate/public Master Class Course together on Experiential Learning. Exciting times! I also hope to see my old friends the geckos and the monitor lizard on the island of Pulau Ubin where I will be working in Singapore!
Last week I had the pleasure of being one of three invited professors to deliver a session in Helsinki University, Finland. The event was the Annual Conference of the Finnish Educational Research Association. I delivered a symposium on the relationship between mind, body and emotions in the student experience of higher education learning. The conference was a successful event attended by nearly 700 people. I met some new friends and had a great time – with thinking and writing space – wonderful. It was a change to only fly for just under three hours and Helsinki wasn’t that cold either – just dark and rainy! I was also contacted by Malaysia Airlines by e-mail whilst I was in Finland – they had picked up my blog story about the serious errors that resulted in me being on board a flight that I wasn’t officially on – but clearly I was!! News to follow on shortly I hope…….
So far 4 out of 5 international flights my luggage has gone missing for a few days. This time it was a bit more serious. I boarded a flight from Langkawi in Malaysia and had the same seat number as another passenger. I was told to sit elsewhere as the plane was not full. I was pleased to get on board as storms had delayed many previous flights. The pilot then announced they has a passenger missing and had to take their luggage off. In Kuala Lumpur it was clearly going to be a rush to catch my next flight and it was…..just as the last passengers were boarding I arrived at the gate. But there was problem, I had been ‘wiped off the system’according to staff. My extra leg room seat had gone to someone else but there was one seat left so I was re-booked with a new boarding pass. As I got to the plane entrance KLM staff on board greeted me but a ground staff member then came up behind me and said I couldn’t board the plane. The plane was about to depart. Then when they looked at my boarding card it was decided I wasn’t the passenger they were looking for! KLM gave me a bottle of champagne to express their apologies for all the stress etc. and it was duly taken off me by security staff on arriving at the gate for my final flight to Manchester! I began to think about the whole sorry affair and pieced together the events and realised I was the passenger that was not on board the first flight……sure enough my luggage went missing and I had a hunch as to where it was. Then an e-mail from my colleagues confirmed my suspicion…they were looking for me in the airport as the final calls were for me to board as soon as possible as I was delaying the flight. The baggage was found – yes in Langkawi as it had been taken off the plane not that lost luggage would listen to me when I told them where it was likely to be. KLM refuse to deal with the issue saying I should contact Malaysian Airlines as it was their flight even though my ticket was with KLM!!!! If the plane had crashed my family would have been told I did not board the plane….frightening in these days of tight security checks that I could get on a plane without anyone knowing – though I did have a valid boarding pass!
Our new cream Charnwood C4 stove is now installed and keeping us warm. The central heating is not required much now. The eco-fan on the top of the stove moves air round and also reduces fuel consumption. With the cold weather here it is the ideal time to burn the roof – yes that is what we are doing as we have had a new roof and the builder said we can save on the cost of a skip and you can burn the old wood lats on your wood burner as it’s dry and has no preservatives! This is a large amount of dry timber to burn now but it burns very quickly so ideal for burning with slow burn wood. The chainsaw will be out in the woods again this winter opening up more rides for wildlife and the wood for the year after next can be extracted next spring and stacked and dried in the garden ready for burning.
I gave a keynote speech yesterday (at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, situated on the promenade of the Singapore River) for the Strategic Alliance of Global Educators (SAGE) inaugural conference. The other keynotes were: Professor Wang Gungwu, Chairman of the East Asian Institute, Commander of the British Empire (CBE), and Professor of the National University of Singapore speaking on multiculturalism and bilingualism. Professor Randy Yerrick, a lecturer and researcher at New York Univeristy spoke on 1:1 IT. The conference was very interesting for me, and it made links with the themes of three conferences where I have given keynotes at Beijing (Peking) University, where the conference topic of experiential learning explored the crossroads of Eastern and Western approaches.
Experiential learning started way back with Confucian times, but badly translated into the Western language of English there is a view that experiential learning is learning by ‘doing’, and often this view is that it is physical doing or outdoor physical doing. This is not so. Experiential ideas can also be found way back in the work of early Greek philosophers, particularly Aristotle, Plato and Socrates. Singapore embraces a milieu of elements found in both Western and Eastern values, as seen in lifestyles here. The educational practices in schools are becoming more experiential in teaching approaches, and co-curricular and extra-curricular, lifewide and lifelong educational ideas are encouraging this shift. Assessment remains an issue, problematic in having little synergy with experiential approaches. This is often the case elsewhere: many University lecturers also resort to ‘default mode’ in assessment i.e. exams or essays. Experiential assessment is in a less advanced stage of development.
At this lovely, lively conference where there was a feeling of energy and thoughtfulness, we talked about languages that might be learned by our children. My work in China has taught me many things about Eastern ways. I have been privileged to experience so much over many years. My Visiting Professor roles at Capital Normal University, Beijing, China (a leading teaching University) and my adjunct professorship at the highly ranked Central University of Finance and Economics have now finished. I never was able to learn much of the Chinese language however but I tried, and the pictographic written language still fascinates me by its origins. The word for rest is a pen stroke version of a person under a tree! At the conference there was much talk about multi-culturalism, and bilingualism. The latter term is limited in my view. My view is that just two (bi) languages must not dominate the globe, i.e. just English and Chinese. This will silence other spoken and written words and meanings. The human species must eventually work towards a common language: this will take some time to evolve. Why not the gesture based sign language I ask myself?
……..I have recently been asked to be a Visiting Professor at Derby University, not far from my home city of Sheffield in the UK. I am looking forward to this new relationship, and it is less distance to travel!