Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Look Back in Anger to 2014

Whilst 2013 was the year of change in terms of uprooting and leaving the UK for Norway, 2014 has been the true year of transition. It's been an interesting learning curve.

I think when I left the UK I was just ready to go, I wanted a complete change and the radical shift of exiting job, selling house and re-locating family to Norway seemed a refreshing breath of fresh air. The focus was so much on the exit I never really focussed on what was next, not in an overly planned way anyway.

So as 2014 started I was just really just getting to grips with having "let go of the rock" which is the big change, but you need to hit against a few rocks before you can float and this is the transition.

Initially I was overwhelmed and gratified at a number of opportunities to speak at conferences about digital learning and the value of education, along with working on an innovation project for Pearson and the always fun Law Without Walls (which I'll do again in 2015) and I joined forces with other learning professionals to start developing learning products and services as a consultant. But here's the rub, it was all transition. Something about all of this didn't nourish the soul and whilst it was essentially nice to be wanted it wasn't giving me what I wanted and I didn't know why.

First it took me a while to realise that I'd moved to Norway to be here and yet I was always back and forth to the UK with consultancy work or speaking engagements, one time I was back in Norway for 48hrs before heading back to UK - this was stupid, but I later realised part of letting go of the rock.

Second, whilst I had planned many aspects of my exit from job and country (1yr of planning) I had a lot of unresolved issues about why I left. I had bitten my lip for most of the year after a private equity takeover of the educational charity I worked for. PE ownership of education went against every moral instinct and belief I have and yet for my exit plan to work I largely had to try to keep quiet. I had to pretend I didn't hear people laugh about only wanting Uni status for VAT purposes, or how could they make paper thinner in the books to save money. I had lessons and an insight into how money men work and every night I went home and tried to wash the stench off in the shower to no avail.

Anyway, I think gradually through 2014 I had a number of flashbacks and moments of realisation (I have a tendency to analyse past events from lots of angles) that kept making me angry and my interactions with new corporations kept evoking the memories of this inner dislike of how so many companies operate like machines. I wanted to come up with "a new kind of better" and change it, but my business partners said "we have to win permission gradually".

Which comes to my last point about the transition. "Win permission gradually" - that statement stuck in my shoe like a jagged stone for weeks and I realised that was the issue. I had been trying to gain permission to do things for the last 10 years, with little wins and gains along the way but oh so slow and gathering a thick layer of brick dust on my forehead. The whole point of moving to Norway was to live the life I wanted and to strive to have an existence that had some meaning and purpose in my work. Talking at conferences and "winning permission" weren't going to let me do that.

So in the middle of this year, I finally started to float and I found what I was looking for. Blending my love of learning and love of film production to focus on educating others. Having recently read the end of term reflective blogs of my students I realise I found my element by letting go of all the distractions and seeing where it took me.  I've never been happier.

Now as 2014 draws to a close and I relish now having settled into my own home in the mountains, a short walk to work each day. I look forward to 2015, a milestone year as I will turn 40 and I start to think about the things I want to achieve and do, my head gets fizzy with excitement.

I want to write more this year, I haven't done this for so long and I yearn for it. I have a couple of screenplays brewing so 2015 is the year to finally sit down and write them.

I want to organise a two pronged festival which starts with a disconnect retreat for people working in tech in the UK - log cabins in the mountains, no wi-fi, back to nature, creativity and mindfulness. This is then followed by engagement workshops with Norwegian kids about tech, coding, maker culture, animating, video making etc. I have no idea where to start, but if you want to get involved let me know.

Do Project Mayhem - an idea I had for an activist, positive deviancy meets punk MOOC. An ignition for assignments against the system. Very inspired by some of Evan Roth's work:

TSA Communication (2008) from Evan Roth on Vimeo.


Free Speech from Evan Roth on Vimeo.

It's floating around and so I must do it. I think also that 2015 is an important year for my home country, I want it to re-engage with democracy this year and stand up to be counted. It does not have to be like it is.

Anyway, 2014 was metamorphosis for me. (I was momentarily Sudanese in the Norwegian state system)  2015 is the year I stop being Gregor Samsa.

Oh and I promise to blog more too. I have this whole Norsk Peaks thing to do with blogging.

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