#coachlearninginsport … silent eloquence

During my travels around England this month, I have been listening to Classic FM.

Each hour in the past week, there has been a promotion of the Woodland Trust’s Big Bluebell Watch that mentions Anne Brontë’s Bluebell poem.

The second verse of the poem starts with these two lines:

There is a silent eloquence
In every wild bluebell

Every time I hear those lines, I think about the conversations I have been having with coaches over the last four years in a critical friend project.

Most of the coaches in the group would get stuck into me about being overly romantic in my view of their coaching. However, I do think that the conversations have given me abundant opportunities to share a silent eloquence that comes with their experience and reflection.

There is a melancholy part of the poem too … about times remembered of “sunny days of merriment” when “heart and soul were free”. The poem ends with this verse:

‘Sad wanderer, weep those blissful times
That never may return!’
The lovely floweret seemed to say,
And thus it made me mourn.

A number of the coaches in the group have lost their jobs in the last four years. Two of them are finding the experience of unemployment particularly hard as they strive to get interviews for new opportunities.

They have silent eloquence to share and will flourish in the light.

That is the paradox in Anne’s poem and in the world of coaching … and perhaps why we need a Woodland Trust project for coaches.

Photo Credit

Tiddesley Woods (Pershore Pictures, Twitter)

Edges and personal learning journeys

I found Todd Rose by chance.

A tweet from David Bishop led me to Muiin Koury’s (2014) post Nobody is average but what to do about it?

… and then I managed to find my way to Todd’s TEDx talk (18 minutes) in 2013.

Given that I am so interested in personal learning journeys, I am disappointed not to have found Todd until now.

I really enjoyed the connection Todd makes in the video between adjustability and the design of learning experiences. I like too the challenge to design for the edges.

My thinking is a mix of edges and central tendencies. Whilst I recognise and champion personal learning, my recent analytics work has used median performance profiles.

Like Todd, I recognise that there will be jagged performance profiles rather than smooth curves. Whilst I understand that not one of my profiles fits, they do direct my gaze to variance.

Reflecting on Todd’s talk and designing learning experiences at and for the edges has encouraged me further along my optimisation of performance exploration.

Todd’s work had led him to research individuality, mastery and opportunity.

I accept unreservedly Todd’s observation:

our institutions of opportunity, from education to the workforce, remain firmly rooted in the misguided belief that group averages are good enough to understand individuals, measure their potential, and nurture their unique talents. They are not.

I think if I am clear in my own work about a central tendency rather than an uncritical ‘measurement’, I can explore performance variation creatively and dynamically.

Where I am looking forward to considering edges is in my current work in Learning and Teaching at the University of Canberra. I have been looking at the use of learning analytics to support students on their learning journeys.

I am excited where this work might lead and am delighted to say I have not used ‘average’ in any conversations.


Cores and Edges (3)


I have completed the draft of my Cores and Edges Smart Talk (to be given at the Australian Institute of Sport on 17 October).

I have added speaker notes for each slide and hope the presentation can be self- explanatory. I am hopeful that if those who are coming to the talk have seen the flipped version of the presentation, the conversation we might have will be vibrant after reflection.

I am using Google Slides for my presentation and a copy can be found here.

The picture for this post is from the Braidwood Times.

Lewis Holland and Charlotte Caslick came back to Braidwood after the Rio Olympics. The Braidwood Times reported “Lewis told the Times that he had ‘2622’ on his suitcase in Rio. He told the students how he had always lived in Braidwood for his schooling, even when he was away training.” The students were able to ask lots of questions of the couple before Charlotte finally produced the gold medal that had been stuffed in her pocket.

2622 is the postal code for Braidwood.

I think it is a perfect image and story with which to discuss cores and edges.

The photograph was taken by Alex Rea.