Discovering Olegas Truchanas During Dinner

Last Saturday evening I had the best seat in the house at the Australian Canoeing Awards Dinner

… I was the MC.

One of the awards was made to Terry Bolland. The award was presented in honour of Olegas Truchanas.

During the evening I learned that one of the attendees at the Dinner, John Borojevic, had met Olegas when John was seven years old. I spoke with John about him and was enchanted by Olegas’s story.

I am profoundly disappointed that I had not heard about Olegas’s story until then. The National Library of Australia holds a collection of Olegas’s Lake Pedder pictures.

Dan Sprod’s biographical entry on Olegas can be found here. (I have discovered that Dan is a friend of John so this really is a small world story!)

I found this excerpt from a speech Olegas made in 1972:

Tasmania is not the only place in the world where long-term, careful argument has been defeated by short-term economic advantage. When we look round, the time is rapidly approaching when natural environment, natural unspoiled vistas are sadly beginning to look like left-overs from a vanishing world. This vanishing world is beautiful beyond our dreams and contains in itself rewards and gratifications never found in artificial landscape, or man-made objects, so often regarded as exciting evidence of a new world in the making.

The natural world contains an unbelievable diversity, and offers a variety of choices, provided of course that we retain some of this world and that we live in the manner that permits us to go out, seek it, find it, and make these choices. We must try to retain as much as possible of what still remains of the unique, rare and beautiful. It is terribly important that we take interest in the future of our remaining wilderness, and in the future of our National Parks. Is there any reason why, given this interest, and given enlightened leadership, the ideal of beauty could not become an accepted goal of national policy? Is there any reason why Tasmania should not be more beautiful on the day we leave it, than on the day we came? We don’t know what the requirements of those who come after us will be. Tasmania is slowly evolving towards goals we cannot no%y see. If we can revise our attitudes towards the land under our feet; if we can accept a role of steward and depart from the role of conqueror; if we can accept the view that man and nature are inseparable parts of the unified whole-then Tasmania can be a shining beacon in a dull, uniform and largely artificial world.

What a remarkable life! Making the award to Terry has given me the opportunity to contemplate Olegas’s work and legacy. Forty years on I think his message is even more important to share.

Postscript

I am grateful to Stephen Downes for sharing his link to Olegas in Stephen’s 2004 Buntine Oration. Stephen found news of Olegas in Strahan, Tasmania on his visit to Australia. I sense that Stephen and Olegas are kindred spirits in many ways. I think they have a very close connection through photography.

Photo Credits

Terry Bolland

Olegas Truchanas

Insights for Coaches from Learning Design

I have just returned from Bradys Lake in Tasmania.

I was there for a canoe slalom race that was part of the selection process for the Australian canoe slalom team.

Every time I go to a sport event I think about the relationships that athletes and coaches build to develop performances. In Donald Schon tradition I reflect in action and on action. I believe that I bring an educational approach to my own coaching and relationships with athletes and hope that I try to improve my coaching continuously.

At present I have a voracious appetite to learn more about the technical aspects of canoe slalom. I have never paddled a kayak and so my coaching of the sport is based entirely upon my real-time observation and an unequivocal commitment to athlete flourishing. Sometimes I fail miserably in both regards but I do have a philosophy that guides me, helps me to get back on track and bounceback.

I was thinking about this philosophy this morning when I received a link from Stephen Downes to Abhijit Kadle’s post on Learning Design Philosophy. In the post Abhijit suggests that:

Learning design is not just a science, it is an art. When the team works and generates effective learning designs, they are a result of a deep rooted instructional design philosophy.

Abhijit adds that:

We (Upside Learning) like to look at instructional design in two clear veins, the first is the philosophy of learning design – the beliefs and faith in models that underly everything we do in design. The second is the methodology, the method and process based on these models that allow us to consistently generate good designs for all our clients and their unique situation. The philosophy is what we imbibe, methodology is what we practice.

Abhijit discusses the influence of three instructional design theoreticians in forming this philosophy: Benjamin Bloom, David Merrill, and Robert Mager. Upside draw upon:

I enjoyed the serendipity of receiving Stephen’s link to Abhijit’s post and the relevance of Stephen’s comment in a discussion of best and worst learning experiences that:

The best learning I’ve ever done has been on my own, working through a hard problem, by reading and then writing, either text, or software, or derivations. This is also the hardest learning I’ve done; most of the people I could talk to don’t understand it well enough to explain it, and attempting to work it through leads to more confusion than clarity.

I think there are some great insights here for coaches. I am intrigued by how coaches develop insights into performance and have a sense of long-term progression. I am particularly interested in guided discovery as the foundation of athlete development and realise that in my own coaching this involves an interplay between philosophy and method.

Without the philosophy there is no compass for learning. Abjihit’s post has reminded me that I need to be very clear about the theoretical guides for my work.

It is marvelous that this opportunity arose because of the efforts of a resident of Moncton, New Brunswick to share a daily news feed!

Photo Credit

Bradys Lake, Central Tasmania

Lifted Up