Supporting playfulness

I was fortunate to spend three days in Penguin, Tasmania over Christmas.

At the west of the town is Johnson’s Beach. I was particularly interested in the layout of the beach area in the context of ongoing discussions in my home town, Braidwood, about how to create play spaces within the town’s heritage area.

There is a skate park at Johnson’s Beach.

I liked the clarity of the code of conduct there:

and the guidelines:

The signs and the space were very well kept and exemplified the ‘RESPECT’ invitation of the signage.

Around the corner from the skate park are some exercise machines (Fit for Parks). They have a beautiful outlook to the west.

The machines are well maintained, have very clear instructions for use and include a QR code for each station that links to a video for further information.

When you have finished the work out or the skate and scooter manoeuvres, there is a place to relax and enjoy the view.

I thought the facilities at Johnson’s Beach were exemplary. Their co-location made it possible to have an inter-generational space. We were there during the school term and saw a small number of young people use the skate park (on scooters). We did see people using the exercise stations and I saw two people use their smart phones to check out the exercises.

The area was very clean and I had a sense that there was a shared responsibility for its upkeep and appearance.

I do think that examples like this can support the conversations we are having in Braidwood about creating play spaces for young people whilst acknowledging the concerns some people have about the town’s heritage.

Photo Credits

Keith Lyons (CC BY 4.0)

#coachlearninginsport … smelling the coffee

A picture of people meeting outside Dojo's Bakery chatting over coffeeMy aggregator collects a diverse range of posts and tweets about sport and performance.

I have not set it to search for posts about ‘coaching’ but sometimes it turns up some delightful surprises.

Today, for example, I was alerted to Rachel Hooper’s ‘The Best Coffee Break You’ll Ever Have‘.

Rachel describes her participation in a Modern Learning Event and shares a timeline of her day at the event.

The combination of coffee and coach learning is an important conjunction for me so I was immediately attracted to Rachel’s post. I have found coffee a wonderful social lubricant in conversations with coaches. In my days at the AIS it extended to some fine coffee roasts including Monsoon Malabar and Yirgacheffe. After an Olympic swimming success in 2004, I did serve Kopi Luwak to a coach. Only when she said how much she had enjoyed it did I mention the origins of those particular beans.

Rachel’s experience at ‘the best coffee break you’ll ever have’ sounds like the kind of place in my picture to accompany this post. The picture is of the garden at Dojo’s Bakery in Braidwood where people from the town meet to enjoy coffee, catch up on and share news. It is in Rachel’s terms ‘open space learning’.

By coincidence, I was pitching an idea to a conference organiser for an unmeeting component of the conference. Unmeetings set their own agendas. They are not chronologically time constrained. At Rachel’s event:

We were in charge of our own learning and experience for the day. We were encouraged to identify when we getting nothing from the learning experience and simply walk away. Because the rules of the day were so clear, walking away from a conversation was not seen as ‘rude’ but as an indication the individual might have got what they needed from the discussion, or simply wished to change the subject for something more relevant to them.

I am keen to explore the personal dimensions of coach learning so I am determined to push the boundaries of what coach learning contexts might be.

A picture of the cake and coffee counter at the Albion Cafe, Braidwood.

I apologise for repeating myself from other Clyde Street posts but I do think my own learning journey has been to let go of ‘coach development’ and to focus more on ‘coach learning’. I am keen to move the conversation from personalised learning to personal learning.

As Stephen Downes (2016) suggests:

In the case of personal learning, the role of the educational system is not to provide learning, it is to support learning. Meanwhile, the decisions about what to learn, how to learn, and where to learn are made outside the educational system, and principally, by the individual learners themselves.

Personal learning is like shopping at a grocery store. You need to assemble the ingredients yourself and create your own meals. It’s harder, but it’s a lot cheaper, and you can have an endless variety of meals. Sure, you might not get the best meals possible, but you control the experience, and you control the outcome.

Rachel is attending another Modern Learning Event in January. I will be keen to learn how that goes because once you hit the open road and start sipping Kopi Luwak there is no coming back to development and everywhere to go with personal learning journeys.

Part of the open learning journey is the transparent sharing of experiences. I am delighted Rachel was able to write about her day in Nottingham at the coffee break.

Photo Credits

Dojo’s (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)

The Albion Cafe (Albion Cafe website)

2622: A Community Supporting Learning


It is interview week for this year’s twenty-one applicants to the Braidwood and District Education Foundation.

I am very fortunate to be a member of the interview panel this year along with Libby Collard and Amanda Hall. We are holding the interviews at the Braidwood Services Club. By the end of Friday, we will have met and spoken with all twenty-one young people who applied and who live in Braidwood and the surrounding areas (2622). Trish Solomon, who has been with the Foundation since 2005, is our front of house person to reassure nervous candidates.

The Foundation was established to provide financial assistance and support to young people to help them achieve their post high school education, training and vocation aspirations. It is one of forty foundations in the nationwide Country Education Foundation.

Since its establishment eleven years ago, the Foundation has provided support to 120 young people on their educational journeys after leaving school.

The Foundation works throughout the year to raise funds to support students. There is more information about the Foundation’s work here.


What has struck me about our conversations with young people this week is the diversity of experiences each of them has and how each of them can benefit from the Foundation’s support. I have been able to learn at first hand some of the issues facing rural students as they pursue higher education and vocational learning opportunities.

One of my memorable moments from Thursday was a telephone conversation with a young electrical apprentice on a building site in Canberra. He had left Braidwood at 5.30am to be on site at 7am and would be home at 7pm. Another memorable moment was learning more about a student who is attending the Australian National University. He has no access to a car so starts his day at 6am with a lift from an outlying village and then catches three buses to be at ANU by 9am. The round trip takes up to five hours.

The Foundation’s website notes:

The Foundation raises funds throughout the year and accepts donations from local residents and businesses in order to provide financial grants to students who need an extra helping hand. The funds come directly from our local community … celebrating the aspirations of local youth and working to help them achieve these aspirations. It’s our way of saying “we believe in you and want to support your goals”.

I have a strong emotional connection with the Foundation’s work. My learning journey came from difficult circumstances but my opportunity to access higher education transformed my life chances.

I am delighted that the Foundation places equal value on vocational education opportunities. Five of this year’s applicants are in apprenticeships. Their stories are compelling as they work their way through low wage employment to secure their papers. The Foundation’s support of their purchase of tools of the trade and travel costs to TAFE or CIT classes has an enormous impact on their flourishing.

Away from the Foundation’s work, I spend much of my time working to encourage learning communities. My experiences are often with people in other parts of the world. More and more, I use Braidwood as an example of a community that invests in learning.

This is a remarkable town that has remarkable young people. The Foundation is an outstanding way to support some of these people every year. Each has a special story to share.

One of this year’s candidates made this video as part of his learning journey in computer science … whilst at school. I like the idea that the Foundation cares for people who care.

Photo Credits

Braidwood Main Street (Peter Konnecke, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Melbourne Cup at Garan Vale 2015 (Braidwood Times)