#coachlearninginsport: any limits?

Yesterday was one of those wonderful days of discovery.
Overnight, the oak tree in our garden had gone from empty branches to the green shoots of Spring. It was as if it had been waiting for an opportunity to be warmed.
Without being too metaphorical, my reading yesterday was about the greening of the imagination, oak-like.
A Twitter link took me to a blog post by Katie Martin, 5 Reasons Professional Development is NOT Transforming Learning. Katie introduced her discussion with this quote from Dylan Wiliam:
One of the five reasons Katie cites for the lack of impact of professional development is “there is no culture of learning”. She suggested:

A culture of learning must begin with a safe space for teachers to open their doors and share their practice, receive targeted feedback and relentlessly pursue opportunities to more effectively develop the knowledge and skills to create the desired learning environments.

I wondered if we replaced ‘teachers’ with ‘coaches’ and ‘feedback’ with ‘feedforward’ it would be an even stronger suggestion for the discussion of #coachlearninginsport.
I was really taken by the Dylan Wiliam quote and followed up on some of his writing. My profound regret is that I have just found him.
Dylan shares his presentations on his website. The one I looked at was from 2012 titled Building Learning Communities. In it, Dylan proposes that “there is only one 21st century skill:

It is the skill of being able not to give the right answer to questions about what you were taught in school, but to make the right response to situations that are outside the scope of what you were taught in school.

Dylan quotes Seymour Papert in his 1998 talk Keys to the New Learning of the Digital Century:

We need to produce people who know how to act when they’re faced with situations for which they were not specifically prepared.

I see enormous opportunities for those supporting coach learning to explore ‘knowing how to act’ in 1:1 and in 1:small group (learning community) contexts.
Shortly after reading some of Dylan’s work, I received a link to a New South Wales TAFe skills locker.

SkillsLocker enables TAFE NSW students to collect and present verified evidence for recognition and assessment purposes. Evidence can be collected anywhere, anytime, using a smartphone, tablet device or computer. Evidence uploaded can include photos, videos, audio files, documents in any file type supported by the device used.

I wondered if this might be a great example of having ways to share the dynamic and agile learning proposed by Dylan and Seymour.
It is an excellent example of supporting moves to micro-credentials in learning.
I think it is also part of discussion stimulated by Esko Kilpi. In a recent post about the work place, he observes:

our sense making and our decisions are built on an inadequate appreciation of the complex systems we are part of.

He adds that “all human work takes place in a unique space and at a unique time”. This should lead to valuing “situated knowledge and contextual competences”.
Dylan’s advocacy of a culture of improvement resonates strongly with Eski’s situated work. Eski argues:

The case for networked small units, such as human beings working together in responsive interaction, is stronger than ever.

I do think #coachlearninginsport communities are really well placed to engage in this responsive interaction.
Eski talks about understanding “the peculiarities of human beings”. It seems to me that this is where we address at the personal level any limits we face in personal flourishing.
I see coach learning communities as vital contributors to extending  personal understanding by sharing and exploring practice. Our limits are set (or removed) by our connections.
Some time ago I suggested that coach educators (coach learning experience designers) are meddlers in coaches’ learning journeys. Katie, Dylan and Esri have encouraged me to travel even further down this path as we explore whether we can transform learning by being at the heart of it rather than at the periphery.

Photo Credits

Fence (Peter Liu, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
A “Model” Fenway Day (Brian Talbot, CC BY-NC 2.0)
Infinity, (m.a.r.c., CC BY-SA 2.0)


  1. All I can saw is WOW! What a brilliant insight. Sometimes looking ‘outside the box’ in this case to teaching, it is possible to recognise more about the process of learning; thus the process of being a more insightful coach.
    I’m always struck by the words of the poet Burns http://www.robertburns.org/works/97.shtml in particular the last verse.
    PS – The tress in my garden are shedding their leaves!

    • 🙂 Delightful, Gordon.
      Thank you for the Burns link. The last verse is very powerful. Well found, well shared.


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