I had the opportunity to visit Long Beach on Thursday. It is an hour’s drive from my home in Braidwood, New South Wales.
Long Beach is normally deserted when we get there. We have a choice of wherever we would like to be. There are no surf lifesaving flags. There is no surf patrol there. Everyone who visits the beach understands that they have a personal responsibility for their own and others’ safety. It is a shallow, family friendly beach with no dangerous rip currents.
We were one of two families on the beach. Both of us were inducting young children into the delights of swimming.
I thought the day provided a great metaphor for some of the issues I have been thinking about of late prompted by discussions I have been having with Jo Gibson about #leadershipfollowership.
Jo is looking at the entanglement of leadership and followership in nursing contexts. Her insights have helped me think more carefully about:
- Player-led environments in high performance sport
- Flipped learning opportunities in an open and non-linear online course #UCSIA15.
These have led me inexorably to think in more detail about pedagogy and power.
All these thoughts have coincided with two conversations with world-leading coaches. Both are finding it difficult to work with their national sporting organisations. These organisations are uncomfortable with the coaching approaches of both coaches. They are expecting a much more authoritarian approach to coaching as hierarchical telling rather than a democratic acceptance of entangled opportunities to lead and follow.
If both organisations were in charge of Long Beach there would be a very narrow bandwidth of acceptable beach behaviour. Families would not explore the beach, they would avoid it. Freedom to be different becomes constraint.
This video about the Bodleian Library encouraged me to think about how we can transform an institution
An Open University publication, Innovating Pedagogy (2014) has helped me extend these thoughts. The report published in November looks at:
- Open social learning
- Learning supported by analytics
- Flipped classrooms
- Bring your own devices
- Learning to learn
- Dynamic assessment
- Event-based learning
- Learning through storytelling
- Threshold concepts
All of these point to the self-monitoring and self-management that occurs at Long Beach and with the generations of children who have learned to play and swim there. It is a place of considered autonomy.
In addition to Jo’s prompting, my thoughts at Long Beach were catalysed by a line from an article in the Atlantic earlier this year (April). Derek Thompson discusses The Saviour Fallacy in basketball. In it he mentions Kevin Pritchard‘s “treadmill of mediocrity”. The treadmill captures
the widespread feeling that average teams are doomed to walk in place for eternity with no hope of advancement: they lack the talent to contend, yet never get the acclaimed top-of-the-draft picks that could meaningfully improve their rosters.
My hope is that a move to the entanglement of leadership and followership addresses this sense of eternal doom. It is a very fallible move as we learn how to transition to a shared learning space.
I find it profoundly disappointing that two coaches on this journey are having difficulties in their organisations. Their valuing of process over outcome ironically has led to some of both sports best ever results.
Quite a day at the beach!