Friday, November 29, 2013

Brain Freeze

Sometimes when in the mundane environment of an office your brain freezes up with the plethora of issues that bombard you on a daily basis, that email inbox that pulsates with noise and problems to be solved or the people knocking at your door asking for your input or guidance. Sitting behind a desk and staring at a terminal is probably the worst environment for problem solving, it's called a terminal for a reason, despite all the narratives about clouds and connections.

Offices and cubicles box you in and reduce your thought patterns to very set routines, it is the promise of six sigma and lean to define the most optimum route of doing things and repeat with precision. It's something that often happens in schooling with curriculum, training, testing - all optimising us into routine patterns. Problem is we live in a world of complexity and sometimes routine-procedure are not good in complexity. I often hear the rhetoric from industries that they need people who can think laterally, handle problems etc and can't find people that can do this, they look to education hoping for the answer but then want to repeat the training/ schooling mantra. It's where I tend to think Illich was onto something with Deschooling Society.

An event happened this week that brought into stark relief this issue for me and one that I had ruminated on before when in my square walled office. As I looked around at colleagues, I would often ponder - what would it be like to be trapped on a mountain or an island with these people, how would we survive, who has the mindset that would be appropriate, how do you lead or manage in that environment?

We so often recruit people based on perceived IQ or qualification and prior experience, but we seldom look at an important facet - AQ or Adversity Quotient. This was something I had looked at with a company called Peak Learning, who had some very good toolsets for surfacing people's AQ. I often found myself recruiting people with a high AQ mindset over skills, working on the principle that skills can be developed if the person had the right mindset. This always held me in good stead with the people I recruited who would constantly amaze me with their abilities to think laterally and deal with situations. 

I'm reflecting on this because for such a long time I thought this was just the case with everyone, it's how I saw the world, in given situations I could evaluate multiple patterns around me and see a solution. It's difficult to explain how I visualise this, but I can almost physically see multiple patterns of probability in situations. The best way I could explain this was a scene I saw in a Hollywood film where Sherlock Holmes can predict and visualise what is about to happen.

I believe the key to all of this is understanding patterns as nicely summarised by Esko Kilpi in Pattern Recognition, quantified self and big data, I believe we will soon have systems and tools to augment our ability to see patterns in life like never before and this could lead to a profound change in our learning abilities and breaking some of our routine perceptions or the limits of our bounded rationality

We will start to see the web of life, the patterns within it and how we are interdependent within this network.




Anyway, back to that life event that led to me noodling on this topic. I was driving across the Norwegian Alps this week in the height of winter, towing a heavy trailer. I had snow tyres, but steep gradients, ice and bad luck ended with myself and my mother who was my travel companion being stuck on a steep climb with the vehicle going nowhere. It was desolate, cold and no sign of civilisation for miles.

You Get The Picture


We knew we couldn't push, we knew we needed high revs to pull the trailer and we knew that would just polish the ice and make it worse. My mind initially darted across all the worst scenarios of being stuck up this mountain. My mum interjected with a time worn statement "There are no problems, only solutions", it was a statement I had heard throughout my formative years. In a business setting it sounds like trite business b*llocks spouted by self help gurus, in a real world setting it gives you fortitude and focuses the mind.


We instantly started focussing on the problem domain: wheels need traction to move. How do we get traction? We scoured the location for wood or twigs - nada. Stones? Nothing. All we had around us was ice and snow. Look in the car, nothing but a tool to change tyres and some jumpers. Maybe we can score the ice with the wheel brace and create enough traction? More wheel spinning ensued. How about using the jumpers under the wheels? Worked a little, but not enough. How about the foot well rubber mats? The wheels spun them out across the road.

Each experiment tried and failed, each time we re-analysed and tried to improve. Never stopping to fixate on our predicament. How about that tunnel at the crest of the hill? Maybe it has a grit bin? We've seen grit bins in tunnels; okay it's a fair walk so how am I going to get the grit back if it has any? Find a big shopping bag in the car. Off I stomp, looking around as I go - I see a babbling brook of icy cold water, but think - if the tunnel doesn't have any grit, I can come back and scoop gravel out of the brook! (that's a back-up). I get to the tunnel and no grit bin, but on the sides of the road are plenty of piles of road grit kicked up by lorries etc. I fill up the bag and head back to the car.

We dust the road all around the wheels, start up the car and it gets a little grip and moves, but not enough. I need to be throwing grit in it's path as it's edges forward to get enough speed to move. How will I get back into the car? Sliding side doors! Leave one open and I can jump in! We edge forward as I am sprinkling ahead of the tyres and then we're off! I'm running down the road and jumping in the side of the car and bingo! We're out of our predicament. Quickly learning from our situation we make it to the tunnel and decide this may happen again and there might not be a tunnel, so restock the grit bag! Euphoric at our ability to tackle the situation. Thankful we don't have to be solemn and admit we're two British idiots trying to drive across extreme terrain to emergency rescue services.

So the moral of the story? This situation brought alive to me the essence of innovation.  The divergent thought, the prototyping, the analysing failure and improving, the convergent thought on the solution.




It was a real life Marshmallow Challenge or Candle Problem. As we rolled off up the mountain further we discussed how we had approached this, how it related to those thoughts about being stuck on a mountain with work colleagues and the AQ angle. I realised how lucky I was to have been nurtured to do this from an early age because of that mantra and approach by my mum, for this I am eternally grateful. I think maybe some moments stuck on a mountain need to happen more often, because the freeze brought my brain alive again in ways that had been dulled slightly in the boxed office.

Here is a little video of the trip, to get a better sense of the experience:



Norwegian Road Trip from Jon Harman on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Brick Dust on the Forehead

There is something deeply liberating about not being affiliated to one specific organisation, it gives you the freedom to be more, well, yourself really. This is of course fairly ludicrous, shouldn't you always be you? But there is something about organisations, institutions and industries that just seems to stifle who we really are and I think it's mainly about becoming compliant. Seth Godin covers this very neatly in The Icarus Deception. So why am I thinking about this? Because I know that this compliance training starts in education and enough is enough.

I attended a conference about Legal Innovation and Legal Education this week, well I say attend, I followed the #innovatelaw tag on Twitter from my fireside here in Norway - but you catch the drift. 

It was all reasonably polite and the debate was sincere etc, but there just came a point when I had that moment of clarity: 


I've listened endlessly, read endlessly and talked endlessly about innovation and education in law and I'm bored with it. Not bored because I don't care or don't think that there are endless possibilities, I'm just bored because so little happens. When I first came into the industry there was talk of the Training Framework Review which went on endlessly ad infinitum with very little happening, the LETR showed more promise, but as that went through the very wide and transparent debate around the country (kudos to the team on how open and transparent they were) I still had to listen to a lot of people from industry, regulators etc pontificate about legal education and then demonstrate they knew very little about learning, they were simply interested in maintaining the machine of compliance that exists and curating a museum of how it was. The Bar Standards Board were by far the worst offenders I saw of this. So often at these debates or discussions, I saw the voice of the student drowned out or not represented. I have sat in meetings and listened to colleagues talk about rigour and brightness required, yet know nothing about brain cognition, multiple intelligences or divergent and convergent thought. 

I have attended numerous "future law" talks and conferences where the usual suspects like Richard Susskind regurgitate Kurzweil's singularity for lawyers and when he's not available they actually get Ray in to talk about The Singularity, which I'm sure was really helpful and pragmatic to the lawyers in the audience. I've been to a talk by a barrister explaining to me "The Cloud" and how they've moved all their documents to Ipads via the cloud (essentially they had discovered Dropbox) and it all scares me. It scares me because I know you're better than that. I know you can be innovative and creative, it's an innate human characteristic. 

Before we go to that though, I've got to just say this talking and chin stroking has just got to stop. If we're going to change or innovate let's at least throw off the shackles of what is stopping us. I want to follow Howard Beale's example and just shout "I'm Mad As Hell and I'm Not Going to Take It Any More!"
video

Does that feel better? Okay. So we need to accept that if we're going to get anywhere we have to stop fixating on the "i" word,  the more you use that word the less likely you are to actually do it. We need to go back to basics and think "play" which means a bit of de-programming how you've been educated.


Now nobody is going to set up a Legal Education Council, with a nice committee etc so we may as well stop debating that now. Sure we can go and ask for some money from The Legal Education Foundation and we should (they have £200million somewhere). But as Jobs said "No-one is going to give you permission to put a dent in the Universe, you just have to do it".

So why not just set up a brain trust of people that want to do this, play, prototype, gamestorm it, hack it and try some solutions - we know the problem domain, it's time to move onto building solutions. 

Guess what in the 11 years since I first heard all this debate starting, the world has invented some really cool tools for collaboration virtually, thus making it less onerous for people to create movements. We don't need any committee halls or lecture theatres, let's use Google DocsBasecampVoicethreadHangouts etc, etc. 

I know revolutionary talk and all that is very zeitgeist at the moment, and that is not the reason I raise this - it is because our futures and our kids futures need this, we need to start solving some of the great big problems on the way - that needs law, but it's going to need a much more agile, creative, inventive, collaborative bunch of lawyers and legal services to deliver it. So we have to start now with legal ed to get ready. Time to break down that dusty brick wall that has been giving me a headache for too long.





The Backchannel Comments

Happy FF Halloween

It's a tradition of sorts to make a few Halloween vids for Twitter folk, here is this year's episode:



featuring: @_millymoo, @bhamiltonbruce, @lifeincustody, @richardmoorhead, @legalbizzle


and from the archives:

Skeleton Dance feat: @bhamiltonbruce, @paulbernaluk, @richardmoorhead, @lifeincustody & @_millymoo

The Time Warp feat: @jezhop, @_millymoo, @lifeincustody, @charonqc & @richardmoorhead

The Monster Mash feat: @charonqc, @kilroyt, @benwheway, @ikenceo & @brianinkster

Math Camp Massacre feat: @jezhop, @legalbrat, @rupertwhite, @annanev, @alicemorrissey & @legalbizzle

Night of the Living Dead ish feat: @charonqc & @_millymoo

And of course the one that kicked it off:


feat: @lifeincustody, @_millymoo, @richardmoorhead, @stevekuncewicz & @jonb1966

Got more #FF vids planned for the future.... Watch this space.

Whilst in the archives I also found this early action horror trailer I made on VHS (hence degraded quality) for GCSE media, yep that's me with a shaven head and jumping off a bridge.


Monday, October 28, 2013

The Futures of Legal Education and the Legal Profession 2013 CEPLER Conference - The Perfect Storm of Legal Education

On Friday 18th October I gave a talk at CEPLER 2013 in which I outlined the work I have done in legal education, along with ideas and views I have on the topic.

Here are the slides from the talk:




You can also see the Twitter back channel feedback from the talk here.


I covered many aspects within my talk about higher education bubbles, student zeitgeist, learning design etc, etc. As promised what follows is a list of recommended resources to widen knowledge on these topics.

I have found Sfard (1998) On Two Metaphors of Learning an extremely useful paper on thinking about and opening discourse about learning not being uni directional from the tutor.

I think seeking out student opinion and listening to the zeitgeist of that experience is important, I often use the Youtubers videos on education to illustrate this, particularly Dan Brown's An Open Letter to Educators and Suli Breaks I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My FateMessage to Those Struggling in Education and Why I Hate School But Hate Education

Books about Higher Ed bubble, marketisation and failings that are recommended reading:

Molesworth et al The Marketisation of Higher Education and the Student as Consumer
Arum & Roksa Academically Adrift
Harlan Reynolds The Higher Education Bubble
Christensen & Eyring The Innovative University
Siemens How Large Systems Change
Leadership Foundation The New HE Climate: Disruptive Inovations
Ernst & Young University of the Future
Barber, Donnelly & Rizvi The Avalanche is Coming

Also be wary of the totality of the "education is broken" meme prevalent in education, predominantly pushed by publishers and venture capitalists all ready with a "solution" - most of these themes are brilliantly pulled apart by Martin Weller at: Broken Education Tumblr and it's also worth keeping an eye on The MOOC Research Initiative to avoid the MOOC Hype.

I first experienced MOOCs by attending Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (2008) which was where the term "MOOC" was first coined, it opened my eyes to the work of Stephen DownesGeorge Siemens and Dave Cormier - pioneers of new pedagogic approaches such as Connectivism and Rhizomatic Education. This course ignited a fire of exploration about education that no traditional model could have achieved, it opened up a great discourse with global educators along with connecting me to further interesting work in educational technology and innovation. That year I started an annual mind map of the things I learned. I strongly recommend doing it and using it for reflection. It also got me thinking about object orientated design with my colleague:




Around the same time as I absorbed and processed all of this I made a video of stats for legal education that was kind of a meme in education at the time, whilst the stats have evolved, as have some of the thinking, the message remains fairly strong still.

This all then lead to studying an MA in Online Education and Distance Learning (which I strongly recommend the modules of for anyone interested in educational innovation and development) and reading further about Learning Design:

Open University Learning Design Initiative
Learning Design for 21st Century Curriculum
Learning Design Support Environment

Laurillard (2001) Rethinking University Teaching
Laurillard (2012) Teaching as a Design Science
Wiliam (2011) Embedded Formative Assessment
Schell The Art of Game Design
Gray, Brown & Macanuffo Gamestorming

When you mix learning design, pedagogic theory and neuroscience together, you start to get a compelling picture of techniques, strategies and approaches that are effective.

Mayer & Moreno (2003) 9 Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning
Saljo (2010) Digital Tools and Challenges to Institutional Traditions of Learning
Krashen Comprehensible Input
Dror  Making Learning Memorable
Clark (2010) Don't Lecture Me
Borden (2009) What Learners Need
Schell Learning is Beautiful
Hellinger 5 Essentials of Personalised Learning
Betts The 2 Sigma Problem
Mitra School in the Cloud
Siemens Intro to Learning Analytics

I strongly believe the world of work is changing at a radical pace and will do for our children. That requires us to really engage with what education they need, be it legal or general.

PSFK The Future of Work Report
Snowden The Cynefin Framework
Lima The Power of Networks
Betts Learning Locker
Robinson Changing Education Paradigms

I hope these resources and readings are helpful. I try to bookmark interesting articles etc on Delicious and need to update links again soon, if you want to delve deeper, dive into the Rabbit Hole

Here are some examples of the work done at The University of Law on the LLB:





The next educational adventures are working on Law Without Walls new LWOWx and a MOOC that embraces the ideas of Wayseeing amongst other exciting challenges. I'll keep the blog posted.

For more coverage of CEPLER2013:

Law Sync CEPLER Pt 1 Law Sync CEPLER Pt 2

Ed Lines CEPLER Reflections Pt 1 Ed Lines CEPLER Reflections Pt 2

Law Sync Storify of CEPLER Twitter Back Channel

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Goodbyes (sort of)

So here's phase 2 of my all change for 2013 plan. I'm leaving the UK to live in Norway full time, which meant selling the house and jacking in the job. Done.

So all that's left is to say goodbye in person. With limited time (I have to pack up my house and speak at CEPLER 2013) before I go, my friends at This is Your Laugh have kindly let me hijack and piggyback on one of their excellent comedy nights.

So if you fancy coming along to say goodbye with a drink and a bit of comedy, I'll be at the stunning Grand Union Bar, Chancery Lane on Tuesday 15th October from 7pm until late. The comedy show starts at 8pm and you can buy tickets here (I'd like to point out that this is not some money making for me, it is supporting a venture I love and believe in though, so your attendance/support of the comedy would make my night)

For those that can't make it, make sure you come and visit the mountains someday soon.

Home is Where The Heart Is from Jon Harman on Vimeo.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Growing Pains

I get a phone call from O, he has a situation that he wants help with. He has a habit of doing this, he has many habits in fact. Imposing favours upon people though is his least skanky habit. To fully master this he has also perfected verbal intimidation and threats.  Think Ben Kingsley in Sexy  Beast and you will know O, now imagine him as an Irish Muslim smack head and the picture is complete. I never fully understood how a so called Muslim shot up speed and kept to his faith. He was a walking embodiment of contradiction who was partial to Ska music.

He wants me to take his friend Paddy to hospital, he thinks he is ODing but won't call an ambulance. If I oblige I am taking one more step into his world, if I don't he will hound me and tax me whenever he sees me. It's a no win for me. 

Already you're asking how I know O, what was I thinking? Right?
It's not just large cities that have decay, small cities have it too and it's harder to escape or avoid if you live in the wrong part of town.

I think I met O in the local dive where all the skaters hung out, it was the mix of cheap booze and the fact no-one ever pulled an ID check that made it so appealing. He took an instant liking to me, I seem to recall it had something to do with picking a Stax records tune on the jukebox. Who knows. All I know was it was impossible to say no to him from day 1. 

Within days I was helping him move house, a place in decay with burnt pieces of foil crumpled and littering the floor, he told me to watch my hands when picking stuff up, didn't want to get pricked by a syringe. It was trainspotting before it was invented.

When I returned from the hospital there was a small gathering, Nancy Spungen/Courtenay Love wannabes lounging on the floor, whilst a rat like boy called Ping mixed up bags of glucose powder and amphetamine, keeping the most undiluted  for his "Percy" consumption.

I soaked him up, every despicable action and sneer, I soaked it up in my lexicon of observation. One day he would become a character in a script or just be training for a future journalist. I absorbed these people like a voyeur in training, fascinated and repulsed all in one followed by seeds of empathy. 

Months later I saw him kick his girlfriend into a miscarriage. All so quick. All so hectic. You shout, you scream, but it's all over as quick as it began. Ashamed that I couldn't stop or didn't stop it. Panda eyes of depression looking back at you. Nobody cried when he eventually hung himself; just another character melting into the pot of a time gone by. A scab that had been picked.

My friends in my late teens were like characters from a Larry Clark film, by-products of a wasted generation trying to see a point in a decade of recession, the eighties had failed, so why have aspiration when ultimately it would all get repossed anyway. Coke was out, speed and H were back in. Cheap drugs for a cheap era.
Frosty was the charismatic pusher compared to the in your face Ping. Frosty was a stereotype of a pusher, trying to be Jim Morrision, whilst in reality he was more Jim Jones with his Kool Aid.
Summer came and Frosty had to fake his own death over some deal gone wrong. His mum crying in the papers, big show for a little man. 
His second coming a year later was not really thought through and I only saw him for a fleeting moment before he disappeared again.

It's funny the people you know when you're growing up, whilst transitory through a couple of formative years - it teaches you so much about human interaction. Whilst I was happy to disassociate, I learnt a lot about keeping your wits about you, having spider sense and seeing the patterns. This has proved invaluable in later years. The one story that still haunts me is the one of T.

T was the sweetest guy you could ever know, short and unassuming he was the insular one of a large group, a cliche in many ways of the high school geek, long hair and a Metallica T shirt. All T ever really wanted was some love, I suspect his home life was not good as no-one was ever allowed to go there.
One cold night in the pub, drunk with fake IDs T and some others were playing pool. Some girls came over and one swooned around T like we'd never seen before, it was like they saw something in him that no other girl ever had. Slightly unnerved but welcoming the attention, T played along. Within a short time period they were whispering in the corner and then the moment came and she pecked him on the cheek and said something that you could tell in hindsight ripped his heart in two. She laughed and ran off. He was silent and slumped back to us, others goaded him about what had happened. He was still silent. It had all been some joke, some windup by another group that T didn't get on with. A cruel hoax for someone else's momentary jolly. Nobody consoled him, nobody asked him if he was alright, just a buffet of "Plenty more fish in the sea" platitudes. T said he was going to go home and no-one stopped him. 

T left the pub and went to a local dilapidated warehouse and jumped to his death. There was a lot of discussion that he was drunk and fell, but I know the truth and I carry that knowledge with heavy heart.

I have never wanted to ever do anything in my life that would make someone feel that way and always try to keep a sense out for when people are having a hard time, you can't solve it or carry the pain for them, but empathy and a hug or human connection can make people realise that society is not ruthless and cruel. 

These things I saw in my formative years I still see played out in life, we as a society are still the children we were in the playground. There are the pushers, the bullies, the tormentors, the geeks and the misfits. As I watch the news of politicians, the media, the banks and the demolition of vulnerable people I can't help thinking it's time we grew up. I have seen my childhood acquaintances time and time again in new incarnations, disguised as business people, celebrities, politicians, civil servants and so forth. But I learnt not to stand idly by like I did as a child. That's all we can do.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Change and Rest in Peace @colmmu

They say a change is as good as a rest, I'm trying a little of both at the moment. Resting up in Norway after a knackering couple of months and changing numerous things, starting with the Twitter handle.

It's a weird feeling changing the name you have been known as in an online community. It shouldn't feel strange but it does. I've wanted to change for a while as the idea behind the original moniker is no longer fitting, colmmu was originally my secondary account on Twitter, it was going to be my "professional" identity and thus colmmu stood for College Of Law Multi Media Unit, which is where I worked. Unoriginal, boring and trite - which was the intention of that account. I had another account where I was more myself, but I'm not one for split personalities and running two accounts in different personas was impossible for me and I started being more myself with colmmu than the other account, so I deleted it and kept going.

Over time it bothered me that the handle was a reference to my job, one that I often had to explain to people. When the College became a University, it became even more redundant and I wanted to really claim it all back for myself. After all it was not an official account in the slightest.

So, why kaoticoddchild? It has history with me, I'm chaotic, sometimes odd and try to maintain a strong essence of childhood wonderment at the world. Oddchild is also how everyone misreads my wife's name, which has always amused me.

Letting go of colmmu is just the beginning of a process, I'm gearing up for lots more change because I have a deep fire burning in my soul to shake a few things up in this world. More on this later... the first step is letting go and I'm am reminded of an excellent text extract by Richard Bach:

Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river. The current of the river swept silently over them all -- young and old, rich and poor, good and evil -- the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self.
Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current was what each had learned from birth.
But one creature said at last, "I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom."
The other creatures laughed and said, "Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed against the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!"
But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks.

Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.



Saturday, July 20, 2013

Wayseeing

Deep down something has bothered me for years, from education onwards I have felt like I am being programmed to conform to a set way of life that does not feel right. At the age of 15 I discovered Bill Hicks, perfect timing for formative years which further confirmed my feelings. A few years later with grunge music and in particular Rage Against The Machine I felt I had found the right theme tune and just the right T shirt to wear for school.

Skip forward a number of years and reading Sir Ken Robinson's The Element helped me realise why I had felt like this, something I was lucky enough to have a personal conversation with him about over lunch one day. I started to realise there were lots of people like me who felt this way and it was obvious what was happening, our process of education was indoctrinating people into a very slim model of humanity:



I was lucky enough to have a parent that encouraged me to go with my flow rather than try to conform despite how painful that would sometimes be, but not all parents do this to the detriment of their children; as is beautifully summed up in the concept of "The Back Up Plan".

But it does not stop at education, so much of the programming of society now is based on a flawed concept and is slightly more sinister than we suspect, that sense of why we feel anxious about ourselves - our status and our security, this has been programmed into us, as explained in Alain De Botton's Status Anxiety and further explained in Adam Curtis' The Century of the Self (I strongly urge you to take time out to follow some of these links and read/ watch)

All of this approach to life and programming people was okay for the industrial age, but in a new connected age, the wheels are starting to come off as Seth Godin explains in his book The Icarus Deception



When you start to understand how we got here and how some of the thought processes were deeply flawed (as explained in The Lonely Robot) you will start to realise it is not you that is at fault, but the logic of the system that is trying to get you to play it's rules. As Professor Falken in War Games explained, "The only way to win the game, is to not play the game"



In this connected age, our programmed way of working isn't going to work anymore, we need to sense make more as explained in the Cynefin Framework. You need "Wayseers" to do this, you need positive deviance.

I now understand why as a kid I was such a fan of Chaplin's "The Great Dictator", the final speech spoke volumes to me:



I know there are others who feel the same, so spread the words and stand up for a different way.

Wayseer FF from Jon Harman on Vimeo.

ATTENTION: All you rule-breakers, you misfits and troublemakers - all you free spirits and pioneers - all you visionaries and non-conformists ...
Everything that the establishment has told you is wrong with you - is actually what's right with you.
You see things others don't. You are hardwired to change the world. Unlike 9 out of 10 people - your mind is irrepressible - and this threatens authority. You were born to be a revolutionary.
You can't stand rules because in your heart you know there's a better way.
You have strengths dangerous to the establishment - and it wants them eliminated, So your whole life you've been told your strengths were weaknesses - Now I'm telling you otherwise.
Your impulsivity is a gift - impulses are your key to the miraculous,
Your distractibility - is an artifact of your inspired creativity,
Your mood swings - reflect the natural pulse of life, they give you unstoppable energy when you're high and deep soulful insight when you're low,
Been diagnosed with a "disorder"? That's society's latest way to deny it's own illness by pointing the finger at you. Your addictive personality is just a symptom of your vast underused capacity for heroic, creative expression and spiritual connection. your utter lack of repression, your wide eyed idealism, your unmitigated open mind - didn't anyone ever tell you?! these are the traits shared by the greatest pioneers and visionaries and innovators, revolutionaries, procrastinators and drama queens, activists on the social scene, space cadets and mavericks, philosophers and derelicts, business suits flying fighter jets, football stars and sex addicts, celebrities with ADD, alcoholics who seek novelty, first responders - prophets and saints, mystics and change agents.

We are - all - the same - you know
'cuz we're all affected by the way -
We are - all - the same - you know
'cuz we're all attracted to the flame -

You know in your heart that there's a natural order to life,
something more sovereign than any man-made rules or laws could ever express.
This natural order is called "the Way."
The Way is the eternal substrate of the cosmos. It guides the very current of time and space. The Way is known by some as the Will of God, Divine Providence, the Holy Spirit, the implicate order, the Tao, reverse-entropy, life-force, but for now we'll simply call it "the Way." The Way is reflected in you as the source of your inspiration, the source of your passions, your wisdom, your enthusiasm, your intuition, your spiritual fire - love. The Way takes the chaos out of the Universe and breathes life into it by reflecting divine order. The Way, when experienced by the mind, is genius, when perceived through the eyes is beauty, when felt with the senses is grace, when allowed into the heart ... is love.

Most people cannot sense the Way directly. ... But then there are the Wayseers. The keepers of the flame. Wayseers have an unexplainable knack for just knowing the Way. They sense it in their very being. They can't tell you why or how they arrived at the right answer. They just know it in their core. They can't show their work. So don't ask. Their minds simply resonate with the Way. When the Way is present, so are they.

While others are blind to it, and society begs you to ignore it, "the Way" stirs you inside. Neurological repression blocks most people's awareness of the Way - censoring all thoughts and impulses from the unconscious is their prefrontal cortex - the gestapo of the brain -  nothing which violates its socialized programming even gets through; but your mind is different. your mind has been cracked wide open to the Way - by some miraculous genetic trait, some psychotropic chemical or maybe even by the will of your very soul, your brain's reward pathways have been hijacked - dopamine employed to overthrow the fascist dictatorship of your prefrontal cortex - now your brain is free of repression, your mind free of censorship, your awareness exposed to the turbulent seas of the unconscious - through this open doorway divine light shines into your consciousness showing you the Way. This is what makes you a Wayseer.

90% of human civilization is populated with those who's brains are blocked to the Way.  Their brains are hardwired to enforce the social programming indoctrinated since birth. Unlike you they cannot break out of this programming, because they have not yet experienced the necessary revolution of mind. These programmed people take social institutions and rules very seriously. Society is full of games programmed to keep peoples' minds occupied so they will not revolt. These games often cause sick fixations on peculiar protocols, power structures, taboos and domination - all subtle forms of human bondage - This distinct form of madness is not only tolerated by the masses but insisted upon. The programmed ones believe in rules so forcefully they become willing to destroy anyone who violates them.

Wayseers are the ones who call their bluff.  Since Wayseer minds are free to reject social programming, Wayseers readily see social institutions for what they are - imaginary games.  Wayseers comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. Helping those who are lost in these games and refuse to help themselves is a calling of many Wayseers. Since Wayseers are the ones who keep contact with the original source of reality - they are able to disrupt societal conventions and even governments to realign humanity with the Way.

The Wayseers are an ancient lineage. A kind of priesthood - carriers of the flame - ones "in the know."  There must always be Wayseers to reform the dizzying psychotic spinning gears of society - giant mindless hamster wheels obscuring the pure blue sky, keeping humanity shackled in a darkened cage - so Wayseers are called - to shed light on the madness of society - to continually resurrect the timeless transcendent Spirit of Truth -

Wayseers reveal this divine truth by devoting themselves to the birth of some creative or disruptive act expressed through art or philosophy, innovations to shake up industry, revolutions for democracy, coups that topple hypocrisy, movements of solidarity, changes that leave a legacy, rebellions against policy, spirit infused technology, moments of clarity, things that challenge barbarity, watersheds of sincerity, momentous drives for charity
We are - all - the same - you know
'cuz we're all affected by the way -
We are - all - the same - you know
'cuz we're all attracted to the flame -

This is your calling, Wayseer.
You've found your tribe.
Welcome home.
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Friday, April 26, 2013

Keep Shining

Elizabeth Miles (@ikenceo) was one of my first contacts on Twitter back in the day, always warm and inviting. Our connection was through law and technology initially, however we rarely talked about either. Our conversations were always about children, Peppa Pig, learning, animation, the arts, the importance of creativity. A passionate lady with a large heart. I'm glad we met in real life a number of times at Tweet Ups and always had a great natter. It was through these conversations we struck upon her love of a rare piece of Disney animation by Salvador Dali that was in the depths of the Disney vaults and I too had seen snippets when I worked at Disney, it was great to find the piece for her, it's the only thing I was able to do for her.

Walt Disney y Salvador Dali - Destino HD from Ivan Wenger on Vimeo.

I'll miss Elizabeth, somebody so giving and open that I felt I knew her better; from our online chat and few real life meetings, than some people I have known for years. One last #FF video to say goodbye and here's hoping your warmth keeps shining down.

FF Sunshine from Jon Harman on Vimeo.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Arthritic Stigmata


My historical disdain for education has amused me over the years, particularly the irony of ending up working in legal education, if I could go back in time to explain this to my 14 yr old self, he would stare at me in slack jaw wonderment. Why? Because in my formative years I held a strong distaste for both education and lawyers. I'll come to the lawyer bit in a moment, but let's first zero in on the education bit.

Today I was diagnosed with degenerative arthritis in my my big toe, initially it made me feel old beyond my years and then I fixated on the injury that had led to this. My doctor explained that arthritis in someone as "young" as me was likely the result of a childhood injury, had I broken my big toe in childhood?

Bang! I was instantly taken back to the incident with 12 yr old me, we had been instructed by our teacher to move some antiquated school desks in our classroom. Believe it or not, in the mid eighties I was working on a wooden desk with an ink well from the Victorian era. As we moved the desks, somehow mine toppled over and landed on my toe. 

Crack! What followed was excruciating pain, I remember crying in agony. My teacher then proceeded to taunt me about being in pain, deriding me in front of the class about not being able to handle it. I asked to see the nurse and he denied that of me and subsequently made me hop the 2 miles home after sitting for 3hrs in excruciating pain. Other old school friends have confirmed this memory today, along with a list of other atrocities (putting a metalwork ruler across a fellow students knuckles and then sitting on it), just so I know that I have not exaggerated this. 

When my mother complained to the school about the teachers behaviour it was rigorously denied. That was the moment that I lost faith in education, the moment I realised it wasn't about learning. I just switched off and spent more time taunting teachers who seemed intent on constantly telling who and what I was. It's been at the back of my mind ever since and now I have a constant throbbing in my toe to remind me on a daily basis, an aggravation of sorts. 

A short time later I had an after school job which was essentially a posher version of a paper round, I was a post boy for a small solicitors office. 
I disliked them with a passion too. Until I worked in that office, I never had any idea the level of contempt people could have for another fellow human being. Rude, obnoxious and vile. 

It was the first time I was hyper aware of the class divide, I was Ronnie Corbett to John Cleese in that famous class sketch.They weren't just rude to me, they were as bad to their clients, immensely patronising and demeaning. The nail in the coffin was when one day I had been held up because they hadn't signed some documents that had to be at the DX office within 10 minutes and it was a bike across town.

I sped along down the hill, slipped on the pedal, caught my foot in the wheel and went over the handlebars. Crack! Smashed my collarbone on the kerb and knocked myself out. I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and came to as they wheeled me in.

When we got home there was a message on the answer machine from the firm stating that they had heard I'd been in an accident and it was imperative to know - did I get the post to the DX? No enquiry at all as to my well being.

I was particularly proud of my mum's Tuckeresque tirade of abuse in response the next day and I was fired with immediate effect.  Which was a shame as I still had the keys to their DX box, the only ones apparently. I'm both slightly ashamed, but also proud of my 15 year old self at depositing the keys off a bridge into the River Wensum. Another broken bone, another dislike chalked up on the board. 

So by the age of  15 I had a formative assessment of the legal industry and education as two equal levels of Dante's Inferno that were both seemingly underpinned by high levels of arrogant patronising attitudes.

So how on earth did I end up here?

This is the rather strange flip side to the coin. I realised in my career that whilst I despised the machine of education,  I loved learning, it was a wondrous life affirming thing and I also discovered a favourable leaning to copyright law and contract law in a geeky way.

I didn't realise I loved learning until I eventually scraped my way to University and aligned my passions with an excellent learning environment. We called my Uni - "a rubber roomed environment" - meaning somewhere we tried, we failed and we practiced until we became skilled. A course designed by a Disney imagineer who was years ahead of others in education. As I studied broadcasting I became fascinated in the business side which enveloped a vast array of commercial contracting and I discovered a great book: Art of the Deal by Dorothy Viljoen which opened my eyes to the beauty of commercial law.

By the time I ended up in legal education I had overcome my initial dislike of law and education and found a new glimmer of inspiration, that said I saw a lot of echoes of my original dislikes around and thus have set about trying to disrupt and change where I can, I like the term my Oxford mentor gave me "positive deviant". 

So as I sit here contemplating my aching toe and wondering if my collar bone will go the same way, I reflect on the bizarre nature of having this arthritic stigmata that spurns me on to change legal education wherever and however I can.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Work Globally, Live Locally - Disruption

This morning I awoke to see more news on the phases on the HS2 train project and can't help thinking that by the time it is built, how we work will be very different and the need to commute to large urban settlements to sit at a desk in an office or cubicle will seem somewhat redundant. The way we think about jobs, careers and the economics of these is where I see mass disruption occurring, breaking the shackles of the industrial age which are embedded in our management culture, our education system and our growth strategies. They're broken though, and we are trying to hang onto them in the same way HMV tried to cling to the high street. The next generation are already wising up to how broken this system is, when are we going to....







 More later on these trends.....

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Work Globally, Live Locally - A New Beginning

For a while now I have been musing on an idea of "Work Globally, Live Locally" as a new model of living and approach to work, breaking free of big economic hubs of urbanisation and commuter pain. I'm still forming my manifesto, which may end up like Jerry Maguire's memo - but we'll see.

In the meantime, have a flick through PSFK's Future of Work Presentation, it will be one of the things that I base my thoughts on.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Paper Bullies


There has been a lot of bullying behaviour on Twitter et al recently and it made me think of a story from a New York Teacher:

A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stamp on it and really mess it up but do not rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty it was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is what happens when a child bully’s another child, they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home.






Please take time to pause for thought when getting caught in heated debate online or teach your children this valuable lesson.