I have been following up on the New York Times’ Snow Fall story.
It is the first time I have taken a good look at the online format of the paper. Whilst exploring some links I found John Tierney’s post about Jordi Quoidbach, Daniel Gilbert and Timothy Wilson’s recent paper in Science. In their abstract, they write:
Young people, middle-aged people, and older people all believed they had changed a lot in the past but would change relatively little in the future. People, it seems, regard the present as a watershed moment at which they have finally become the person they will be for the rest of their lives.
In his discussion of their work, John Tierney notes “People seemed to be much better at recalling their former selves than at imagining how much they would change in the future”.
This encouraged me to think about how teachers and coaches guide students and athletes in their behavioural change and how much time needs to be spent in envisioning and establishing the conditions for a future set of behaviours and dispositions.
For some time now I have been trying to explore how we transform behaviour by learning to look back from the future to the present. We tend to look forward to future events as the predominant way of anticipating events. If, as Jordi, Daniel and Timothy’s research suggests, we are skilful at reflecting on past experience then perhaps our narratives about learning and performance can use this potential to help students and athletes become very imaginative about their futures.
In my conversations with teachers and coaches I am fascinated to learn about their big pictures of performance and learning. I think the most successful teachers and coaches are able to guide discovery and embed the future in the present through their rich pictures. All the expert pedagogues I have met are able to provide a thick description of these pictures and the learning journey they envisage.
Sometimes in one-to-one teaching and coaching contexts it is possible (and profoundly exciting) to have wormhole (Einstein-Rosen Bridge) moments. Teacher, coach, student, athlete move into a completely different space and time.
Which leads me to the issue of identity and whose futures teachers and coaches are contemplating. For my part I have become increasingly interested in how to encourage, stimulate and develop intrinsic motivation. I realise that this interest is framed and nurtured by my own learning journey. But I am naive enough to think that I am providing choices for students and athletes to create their own story.
I think that in more reflective moments I will look at my ontolgical and epistemological values but for the time being I am trying to work through the dilemma posed by Maria Popova:
When you think about any content management system or blogging platform… they’re wired for chronology, so that the latest floats to the top, and we infer that this means that the latest is the most meaningful, most relevant, most significant. The older things that could be timeless and timely get buried.
I do think there are some universal, timeless ideas to share and realise they can be personalised. Perhaps that is a fundamental characteristic of the expert pedagogue … knowing where the Einstein-Rosen Bridges are, how to get there and where to go next.