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Posts Tagged ‘change

I listen to several podcasts. One I meander to frequently is the Pessimists Archive. (Yes, I have mentioned it before. No, I am not sponsored to do this.)

I listened to the episode on The Waltz. I did not realise that one objection to the dance was that women would get dizzy and then lose themselves to lust. Never mind that the restrictive clothing and poor ventilation were more likely culprits.

Another objection to the waltz was that women had moves equal to those of men. So men, concerned more about ego and place, sought to protect the fairer sex from such perceived evil.

Doing the waltz is a non-issue today. So how did such a change take place?

One contributor to change was the polka, which came after the waltz. It was similar to the waltz except that it was “the happy, bouncy version”. The polka allowed people to see the waltz as safe because nothing bad happened after people spun around a room in both cases.

This led the narrator to reveal a change principle:

If something seems threatening, find a safer way to express that same thing. It’s like innovation inoculation, a vaccine for new things.

Change agents with serious agendas can relate. The changes that they see are urgent and important, but they face the inertia of entire organisations or societies. Trying to ring change in its immediate and pure form is likely to be stopped dead in its tracks. They might try the sneaky but possibly more effective inoculation method instead.

I time travelled again about two weeks ago. How so? I had to apply for GIRO payments for my electricity bill the good old fashioned way.

When I jumped on the switch-your-utility-provider bandwagon last June, the provider, Sunseap, did not offer automatic payment by credit card. All my other utility bills — water, gas, Internet, digital phone line, mobile phone accounts — are paid this way. As are other payments, e.g., installments. It is a fact of modern life.

I resorted to paying by mobile. This meant scanning a QR code in my monthly e-bill. Sounds current, does it not? No, not when I have to remind myself to do this every month. If I had to remind myself to pay every bill manually, I would need to invest unnecessary bandwidth on things so basic.

Yes, this is a first-world issue. But can you blame me for expecting better of a provider that claims to be the first to provide solar-generated electricity to commercial and mainstream consumers?

I had to travel back to the past of printing out a paper-based GIRO form, fish an envelope from a dusty box, and buy a stamp from a post office. I had to do these things regularly when I started working a little over 30 years ago. But it was not a nostalgic trip down memory lane because it was inconvenient and inefficient.

The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed. --William Gibson

This experience was a reminder to me that the future is here, but not evenly distributed. It was also a reminder that one public facing group of an organisation can look progressive while other parts can be stuck rigidly in the past.

I have more time to reflect on this. It will take weeks for me to know if my GIRO form went through and the application got approved.


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People on the street were asked to tell the time with a clock. An actual clock with a face and arms, not a digital display.

The expected response might be: Oh, young people these days!

To those who judge, I ask if they can do what these “young people” can do or what their ancestors could do. I doubt many can organise a movement with social media or change a horseshoe.

Can you do it? Can you change with the times and not judge it?

Gmail has been rolling out scheduled sends and replies.

I have relied on the Gmail add-on, Boomerang, for years to do this. The add-on would change my Gmail layout and interfere with rollover effects, but I liked the convenience of scheduling email.

Now the feature is baked into Gmail as a standard feature on both desktop and mobile, all without the janky Boomerang effects.

While some might point out the giant swallowing effect that Gmail will have on Boomerang, I reflect on how this plays out in larger systems.

Change agents do not always see their efforts pay off in the short term or even in their lifetimes. Their cumulative efforts work like water eroding and shaping rock over time.


Video source

The video above seems to have little, if anything, to do with being an edtech champion. But the words of historian Rutger Bregman ring true.

Bregman gained attention at the most recent Davos summit when he emphasised taxation of the ultra rich over philanthropy.


Video source

Change agents who take their roles seriously might take to heart his reminder:

We can’t afford to just be tinkering around the edges. If history teaches us one thing, it’s always that change never starts in the centre, but it always starts on the fringes, with people who are first dismissed as crazy and unreasonable and ridiculous. Every milestone of civilisation, the end of slavery, democracy, equal rights for men and women, the welfare state. All these ideas were dismissed once as unreasonable and crazy. Until they happened.

Be crazy. Be unreasonable. Be ridiculous. But only you have your head screwed on right and are a student of the history of your field. You can project only if you have depth, and that comes from the past. For change agents, this past does not hold back; it anchors to realities that need to change.

During a visitation this lunar new year, a family member played a video of a gathering on an almost 30-year-old video tape.

Through the video “snow”, we watched a snippet of Singapore in 1991. Folks gathered around the TV screen to question their fashion and hairstyle choices, and to gossip about relatives who had since passed away.

Since the video featured the apartment we were in, some marvelled at how little had changed by comparing what was on screen with what was around us.
 

 
Only one part of the video caught my attention. While the adults in the video chatted in the living room, a girl busied herself by playing video games on an old console.

Back in the room, my son was sitting in the same place as the girl in the video. In between watching the video time capsule, he played video games on his iPhone. So much time had passed, but so little had changed.

I was not thinking about kids being kids. I was thinking about how quick adults are to judge kids as they explore and learn on their own. I was also wondering how oblivious adults are to the change process (or the lack of, in this case).

For me, the visitation video was a reminder that things might seem to change superficially. But if we dig deeper, things actually remain the same. The way to tell if anything has changed at all it to examine the history of a behaviour or practice.

… and damned if you don’t. That was one of my reactions when I watched this video.


Video source

The video featured volunteers trying to help during the US government service shutdown. But they were stopped by an authority figure because current policies do not allow them to chip in when the chips are down for federal employees.

Therein lies a reminder for change agents in schooling and education. You know that something should be done now and you take it upon yourself (and perhaps a small team) to enact the change. But policies and those that police them will stand in your way.

This reminded me of a series of workshops that I designed and conducted for an education institute. I had recommended that policy makers and administrators also attend the sessions.

My contact enabled this and it was a joy to facilitate. The police makers and administrators were not on the frontline and could not see what progressive pedagogy looked like. At the same time, instructors on the ground could not understand the rationales formed in towers overhead.

The workshops became shared spaces and experiences for these folk to co-learn and to exchange their perspectives. I wish more organisations would enable such designs.


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