#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)

#coachlearninginsport: hearing motets

I am in England at the moment.

I am here for a month meeting twenty-four rugby union and cricket coaches with whom I have been in critical friend conversations for four years.

Whilst I have been travelling, I have been listening to Radio 3 and Classic FM. If I am very fortunate I hear Philip Glass but he is not often played.

Yesterday, on a journey to Durham, my drive on the A1(M) was uplifted by a recording of Thomas Tallis’s Spem in alium.

Spem in alium is a motet for eight choirs of five voices. I find it a most exquisite piece of music. Wikipedia says of it “its individual vocal lines act quite freely within its elegant harmonic framework”.

It struck me forcefully, on a rather beautiful morning near Wetherby, that I have the immense privilege of hearing twenty-four voices. Two sports, twenty-four learning journeys … that share a harmony.

What is fascinating to me about being part of a four-year journey is that I can hear changes in the voices. Each coach’s journey from good to great has been made possible by their willingness to reflect and consider meta-issues around coaching. They are profoundly engaged in their own and others’ coaching processes.

As when I hear Thomas Tallis’s motet, I am stunned by the depth of insight each coach brings to his and her coaching. This Wikipedia piece could have been written about the coaches:

The work is a study in contrasts: the individual voices sing and are silent in turns, sometimes alone, sometimes in choirs, sometimes calling and answering, sometimes all together, so that, far from being a monotonous mess, the work is continually presenting new ideas.

Imagine having that as a #coachlearninginsport opportunity.

I do think it is scalable.

700 voices for 40 as an example …

#coachlearninginsport: self-organising networks

Last month, I was invited to join a group of coaches in an online forum.

I was delighted to be asked but I have spent much of the time as a peripheral participant … enjoying the open sharing but not contributing.

I thought listening might be a good way to start in a group of online acquaintances.

Yesterday, I responded to this message from one of the group:

Hi everyone. I’m early in the process of setting up new CPD events. I’ve been slightly dissatisfied with recent experiences and groups like this show the value of sharing and exploring new ideas.

They won’t be linked to NGB/club/County – more of a ‘by coaches, for coaches’ approach focusing on interaction, conceptualisation of ideas and discussion, building a network etc.

From your recent CPD experiences, what have been the best elements? If there was one thing you want, or would want, from a CPD experience then what would it be?

Any ideas and feedback welcome.

It seemed a great opportunity for me to discuss my thoughts about #coachlearninginsport.

It coincided too with my participation in an open online course, Connectivism and Learning. Stephen Downes is the facilitator of this course and he has this to say about connectivism:

At its heart, connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks. (My emphasis)

Elsewhere, Stephen (2012) has discussed course design. He notes that in  a connectivist course “the content does not define the course”.

By navigating the content environment, and selecting content that is relevant to your own personal preferences and context, you are creating an individual view or perspective. So you are first creating connections between contents with each other and with your own background and experience. And working with content in a connectivist course does not involve learning or remembering the content. Rather, it is to engage in a process of creation and sharing. Each person in the course, speaking from his or her unique perspective, participates in a conversation that brings these perspectives together. (My emphasis)

I am hopeful that our online group might discuss these issues … if they are of interest.

For the time being, I look forward to engaging in a conversation on the platform that explores whether we might move from CPD to CPL and to celebrate the sense each of us makes of our self-organising networks.

Connected by shared interests.

Photo Credits

At Coogee (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)