Discussing Performance

I have been involved in coaching canoe slalom for the last two months. It is a busy time of the year in Australia when athletes compete for places in Australian teams. I travel to the Penrith Whitewater Stadium twice a week from my home in Mongarlowe. Each visit involves a 600 kilometre round trip and during these trips I listen to Radio National … there are some great programs at 4 a.m. to help focus my attention on the very quiet roads (I missed this program on recommendation and social networks!).

All week I have been musing about the CCK08 wrap held on Tuesday morning (Australia time) and it is fascinating how many other items have attracted my attention this week. I thought I would bring all these strands together in this post to explore some of my interests in performance and the connectedness of people and ideas. My most recent journey on Saturday morning (28 February) was the catalyst. During that journey between Braidwood and Tarago I listened to a fascinating discussion of whistleblowing in the workplace between The National Interest‘s presenter Peter Mares and Labor MP Mark Dreyfus, the chair of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee. The discussion was framed by this observation “History tells us that there’s usually a high price to be paid for whistle-blowing. Organisations being challenged understandably turn nasty and there have been few protections, even for individuals who act out of a sense of honesty or integrity.”

The next hour from Tarago to Exeter was filled by Music Deli. Many years ago I worked at Dartington College of Arts and became fascinated by ethnomusicology at a time when my interest in ethnography was developing. Saturday morning’s program provided a great stimulus to reflect on those times. In the program there were two studio sessions the first featured the clarinet player Bobby Dimitrievski and his band from Sydney. He talked about his Macedonian musical heritage. In the second session, Italian musician Enrico Noviello sang, played and talked about traditional music from Puglia. I was enraptured by Bobby and Enrico’s discussions of oral tradition in music making. The podcast can be found here.

Early on Tuesday morning I was set for the CCK08 discussions and was keen to be part of the sharing ethos so prevalent in CCK08 and to be involved in the practice of connectedness. Stephen wrote that he was delayed in participating in the Elluminate session by clearing snow at his home, I failed to arrive at all because of Comet Lulin (C/2007 N3 Lulin). Conversations about CCK08 between the thirty-two participants went on without me and I became an asynchronous participant! However, I did see the comet pass over my part of Australia and thought that the once in a thousand years experience was a very important moment for me. (It was interesting to note other networks at work during Lulin’s journey and noted this set of photographs from the Alborz Mountains in Iran.) On reflection CCK08 was that kind of experience for me too.

I have written a number of posts about CCK08 in this blog and most of them are reflections-in-action. I have written some reflections-on-action too. As a result of CCK08 I think and act differently. My understanding of teaching and learning has been transformed and I hope I have a group of friends who will amplify my understanding and practice. My participation in CCK08 was part of a wonderful cosmos of energy, thought and engagement that CCK08 brought.

I have stored many of the resources shared in CCK08. I am storing my photograph of Lulin too!


I took a series of photographs with a Fuji camera using varying settings. Some of them have no trace of the comet! In retrospect that seems to be some course participants’ experience of CCK08 as they discussed the tools and knowledge required for participation in CCK08. Throughout the course I discovered new ways to communicate and share. I hope that by taking a fallibilist approach to learning I grew my understanding by the on-going inclusion of ideas and tools.

I mentioned earlier that I had been listening to Radio National. It struck me that no one talks about being a lurker of radio channels. I discovered the term ‘lurker’ during CCK08 discussions and note that it reappeared in the Wrap discussions. I have assumed that each of us has a different approach to engagement in learning. I find it hard to use the verb ‘to lurk’ let alone call someone a ‘lurker’. I noted too that there was some discussion about what to call a CCK ‘course’. I have tended to think of courses in a very literal sense. In the sport of canoe slalom participants navigate their way through a series of gates. On natural rivers the flow of the water varies as does the course of the river. Water courses and canoe slalom courses vary enormously even during the same event. I felt very comfortable in CCK08 and like Oh Laura was ‘a glass of water longing for the ocean’. I think the Wrap had some excellent suggestions for CCK09.

What struck me about many of the participants in CCK08 was their polymath interests. Last week there was enormous discussion about another polymath, Gail Trimble. This post attracted my attention on Thursday last week. I read, in particular, that:

The acclaim she has received for her stellar knowledge – “In the cautionary poem by Hilaire Belloc, what was the ‘trick that everyone abhors’, practiced by Rebecca…” to which she correctly answered “slamming doors” – has not been one-way. She has been ridiculed on social networking sites for being too geekily smart and one newspaper this week asked: “Why do so many hate this girl simply for being clever?”

I find it remarkable that a person with such a wonderful knowledge could be viewed as a threat to anyone. It seemed to me that CCK08 was able to celebrate knowing and the introduction of guests amplified the course for me. I am hopeful that CCK09 will develop its use of guests and the explicit role of the external voice that Dave Cormier provided. I am keen to participate in CCK09 and to be part of the evolution of a very special community. Next time around I may be even a participant in Moodle!

Whilst pondering all this I was dipping into Facebook and catching up with friends. One of my friends, Michael Herlihy, has been very active this week and has posted some great videos. (I have posted this about one of his video posts.) Michael posted two videos about sport performance and the videos provide an excellent end to my week of contemplating performance and the connectedness of people and ideas.

CCK08 opened up the enormous possibilities of growing through sharing. I have spent much of my last thirty years in elite sport. In this environment it was assumed that success was based upon secrecy. Michael’s video post about the analysis of Irish sporting performance offers an interesting juxtaposition of the openness and secrecy debate.

Alistair Gray offers this assessment of Ireland’s performance at the Beijing Olympics

This is Pat Hickey‘s response

The Irish Times gives its take on the review of Irish Olympic performance here and provides this brief summary of the key points of the review of performance.

What is exciting for me is that this discussion is a public one. CCK08 has given me enormous confidence to pursue an openness approach to performance that recognises that sharing enables transformation. There have been so many instances this week where the power of sharing is so evident. I see possibilities everywhere. I am excited that they are real opportunities rather than imagined connections.

Wellbeing and Demographic Snapshots of Australia 2009


In the last week, two reports have provided some fascinating demographic information about Australia. An ABC news post drew attention to the most recent Australian Unity Wellbeing Index report developed in the Australian Centre on Quality of Life (ACQOL) by Bob Cummins. The Index has the aim of promoting greater public and political awareness of the social factors underpinning wellbeing, as well as enhancing scientific understanding of subjective wellbeing.

Results (Report 19.1) indicate that:

  • The five Statistical Sub-Divisions (SSDs) with the highest levels of wellbeing are all characterised by being fairly remote regions of Australia.  These are: Glenelg (VIC), Upper South East (SA), Kangaroo Island/Yorke (SA), Litchfield Shire (NT), Barkly/Lower Top End (NT)
  • The five SSDs with the lowest levels of wellbeing are all charactrised as inner-city.  These are: Fairfield-Liverpool (NSW), South Canberra (ACT), Inner Sydney (NSW), Greater Dandenong City  (VIC), Campbelltown (NSW).
  • Various demographic variables alone and in combination can explain 25-30% of the variation in wellbeing between SSDs.  The strongest of these are wealth (positive), population density (negative), the percentage of homes where only English is spoken (positive) and the percentage of people not born in Australia (negative).
  • The strongest demographic factor in terms of explaining variation between SSDs appears to be the percentage of people not born in Australia.  However, the influence is minor where the proportion of New Australians remains below 40% of the total SSD population.  The vast majority of SSDs contain less than 40% New Australians.  However, the few SSDs that exceed this proportion have low average wellbeing.
  • The domains of wellbeing that appear most sensitive to these influences are relationships and community connection.
  • Wellbeing generally falls in cities with more than 40,000 inhabitants.

The foundation paper for the Index was published in 2003 (Google Scholar link to a PDF copy of the paper.)

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released a Picture of the Nation. A post announcing its publication reports that the Picture “analyses information collected in the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. It incorporates information from previous censuses—in some instances going back as far as 1911. It presents stories about contemporary society and trends that affect the lives of Australian people. Drawing on the rich variety of topics covered by the census and looking across different geographic areas and population groups, this report showcases the many strengths of census data”.

Some key points abstracted by the ABS:

  • Australians are living longer with the proportion of older Australians (aged 65 and over) increasing from 4% in 1901 to 13% in 2006.
  • The proportion of children (aged under 15) declined from 35% in 1901 to 20% in 2006.
  • Generation X and Y are the most highly qualified generation, with one in four having a Bachelor Degree or above in 2006.
  • Between 2001 and 2006, Australia’s population increased by over one million people, with about half from overseas migration and half from natural increase.
  • Young Australians continue to leave rural areas. Over a quarter of people leaving country inland areas in 2006 were aged 15-24. The loss of young people makes it difficult to sustain population levels in these areas.


  • Almost half (44%) of all Australians were either born overseas or has at least one parent born overseas.
  • About one-third of Australia’s Indigenous population are living in Major Cities.
  • In 2006, Australia’s Greek and Croatian born population had the highest citizenship rates with 97% and 96% respectively. Japan born residents had the lowest citizenship rate with 15%.
  • Over 200 languages were spoken in Australian homes in 2006. The most common non-English languages were Italian (1.8%), Greek (1.4%), Cantonese (1.3%), Arabic (1.3%) and Mandarin (1.2%).


  • The proportion of young couple families without children has remained constant over the last 20 years (14%). However fewer of these couples are getting married – 44% in 2006 compared with 75% in 1986.
  • In 2006 two-thirds of all people living in group households were aged between 15 and 34 years.
  • In 2006, one in 10 people in Australia were living alone, but half the population lived in a two parent family with children.
  • In 2006, 24,000 children lived with their grandparents, with no parent in the family.


  • In 2006, more women had volunteered than men and people born in Australia were more likely to volunteer than those born overseas (22% compared with 15%).
  • In 2006, 1.3 million people provided unpaid care for another child, who was not their own. Two thirds of these were women.
  • 4.4% of Australians needed daily assistance with core activities such as self-care, moving around or communicating, because of a long term health condition, a disability or old age.


  • One in four Australians attended an educational institution in 2006.
  • There were 1.7 million primary school students and 1.3 million secondary school students in 2006: a 2% decline in the number of primary students and a 5% increase in the number of secondary students since 1996.
  • The number of Indigenous students attending primary school increased by 17% to 72,000 between 1996 and 2006. Over the same period, the number of Indigenous secondary students increased by 46% to 40,000.
  • The most common fields of study for people’s highest non-school qualification were Engineering and related technologies (21%) and Management and commerce (20%) of all people with non-school qualifications.


  • Labour force participation for women increased from 48% to 58% between 1986 and 2006. Over the same period the participation rate for men fell from 75% to 72%.
  • In 2006, more people worked very long hours than in 1986: 19% reported that they worked 49 hours or more per week, compared with 15% of all employed people in 1986.
  • 8 out of 10 people travelled to work by motor car on Census day 2006.


  • The family home is the main asset for many Australians: 70% of households owned their own home with or without a mortgage: a similar rate to the past 40 years.
  • In 2006, more than two thirds (67%) of people who were employed full-time in higher skill level occupations (which included managers and professionals) had higher incomes.


  • Between 1986 and 2006, the number of private dwellings in Australia increased by 45% (or 2.6 million dwellings), while the number of people living in private dwellings increased by substantially less at 28%.
  • The median weekly rent for public housing was $90.

Both publications appeared (or were discussed) close to Australia Day. This year’s Australian of the Year, Mick Dodson, has stimulated a very open debate about when Australia Day should be celebrated and what the Day should be called.


Footnote: On 5 March 2009 Radio National held a fascinating discussion about Australian population growth. This is a link to a podcast of the discussions between Philip Adams, Mark O’Connor and Barney Foran. This is the trail for the program:

This month the Federal Government will be issuing its draft legislation on an emissions trading scheme. At the same time, our population is growing faster than Indonesia’s, faster than the Asia-Pacific region’s and three times as fast as the average OECD countries. But, is it possible to cut our greenhouse gas emissions without taking into account our future population?