Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Who’s Making an Impact?

Friday, December 10th, 2010


At this time of year, many of us will compliment our own feasting and gift-giving with small gestures towards those less fortunate than ourselves; perhaps contributing to office collections, or donating food hampers for families in need. What a great way to ‘make an impact’, and think – and act – outside of ourselves. Sometimes I wonder though, who really impacts who? Don’t get me wrong – it’s appropriate that we should help those who’ve lost their footing in a society designed to benefit the rich. But it struck me this week that often it is precisely these people to whom we seem to have so much to give, who in fact might have even more to give to us.

I was on my way in to work on public transit through Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. I’d had a tricky weekend with moments of frustrating relational conflict; and was heading in to some urgent tasks that should have been undertaken many days earlier. It was not one of my best Monday mornings! Just as I was trying to jolt myself out of my malaise, a precious woman with whom I’d previously exchanged brief pleasantries, got on the bus. Immediately upon seeing me, her face lit up and she exclaimed loudly to everyone on the bus, ‘I recognise that face,’ and we entered in to conversation. I asked how she was, and she said she was well, and launched in to a story about her father who had come through serious surgery, and the son who had saved his life twice and of whom she was very proud.

This lady, apparently ‘in need’ in so many ways, had the most extraordinary impact on me. She was pleased to see me, and I her. From a place of vulnerability, she shared her great delight in the important things in life – of family, and good health. As she did so, I realised that we are not so different after all. For a few brief moments, we shared our common humanity – me on my way to the studio; she on her way to a government-run program. She reminded me of the importance of relationships. She reminded me of what it means to love.

Teaching Business People to ‘See Beauty in the World’

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

the soul… never thinks without a picture


Canada’s National Post just ran an article Aug 14 titled ‘Painting outside the Bottom Line‘ about McGill’s professor Nancy Adler’s message to business scholars, gathered for the Academy of Management meeting – the worlds largest association of business scholars.

Adler, an artist who also holds a PHD in management advises business schools to teach students how to ‘come back to seeing beauty in the world… and stop obsessing about the bottom line’. She challenged the scholarly attendees with this question… ‘How do we proclaim our profoundly human role as creators and as leaders?’

Video interview with Nancy Adler.

A powerful thought…

Monday, May 10th, 2010


…Reinforced for me this week by a couple of conversations with mentors I admire.

Hugh MacLeod: Wings

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Once I wrote this line, “Anything is possible if it’s done with Love”. This cartoon touches a similar vein. Love is what makes it all possible. Love is what makes us strive, build and create.

Without Love, our species would’ve been wiped out millennia ago.

Love is humanity’s killer app. Exactly.

From the GapingVoid Gallery and GapingVoid Blog

Inspired Learning – why is it so rare?

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Last month I attended ‘Podcamp 2010’ in Toronto. Podcamp is a free un-conference for anyone interested in exploring the cutting-edge of social media. The event was held at Ryerson University in Toronto and 1,400 people showed up. Not a penny was spent on marketing. It was all done through social media.

Presentations were 30 minutes – fast paced, full of info. I loved the short format. I loved the pace. Loved the energy of the crowd (who were mostly under 30). I left feeling inspired.

A week later, I attended ‘The Art of Marketing, Canada’s Marketing and Innovation Conference.’ It was held at the Metro Convention centre, one of the least inspiring venues in Toronto, in a huge dark hall with theatre style seating. The speakers were top notch, Seth Godin and Mitch Joel but I found the format and setting stifling and as I looked around the room It seemed like people were having a hard time staying awake – at a price tag of $400 (without lunch)!

Educators and developers of conferences need to be ever more mindful of creating an experience aligned with the content – if a conference is on innovation then let it BE innovative. Shouldn’t a sustainability conference be sustainable instead of people flying all over the country to attend? It’s not just about the ideas communicated in a learning environment to satisfy our insatiable cerebral appetite. We also learn through from feelings – feelings and impressions that result from an experience and – linger with us, reinforce a message, motivate and inspire us at a deeper level. Ideally, people should leave feeling inspired, ‘feeling the message’, and do we dare say – loved? Sure its always easy to criticize but my intention is to ask – why is that so very often, in learning environments in particular, the talk is not walked.


Monday, February 1st, 2010


Sometimes I find myself thinking in a loop about something that I did in the past that was really, really dumb. It gives me a bit of knot in my gut just thinking about what happened and how it may have affected the people involved. No one wants to make a big mistake.

Or do we? Is it not an intrinsic part of being human? Would you like to erase any other aspects of humanity from your daily life? If you go too far down that road are you not just carving out an overly attractive and witty robot out of your current parts? A life without flaw would be characterless to say the least.

The fact is that without mistakes we wouldn’t find out about a whole lot of what’s amazing in this experience. We need to fall off of a skateboard to find out how fast we can go. We have to embarrass ourselves at a party at least once (or twice) in order to find out what boundaries work best for us. Any process should involve error, it’s the only way we know we’ve got something good by the end. Boredom is a terrible alternative to experience.

In design, we have to rely on the sort of playfulness that breeds the odd mistake. When we produce a mistake, we allow it to influence our subsequent work. The end result is something that’s not a product of simply believing that we’ve got something good, but a validated solution to a fuzzy problem. Indeed, mistakes are essential to fully exploring that fuzz. It’s a process of trial and experience, the error is implicit.

Moral: Don’t be so hard on your errors. Learn to love them, because they serve you well.

Love you!

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Society teaches us that self love is wrong. We hear derogatory comments all the time like “that person is in love with themselves”. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: when we can love ourselves, we can love the people we work with, our clients, partners, teachers, and impact everything about this world. Notice the chatter in your head. How much is loving to yourself and how much is critical? Try loving and approving of yourself and watch the magic unfold.

Love for the group

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

In design school, we were taught to work in teams even if we didn’t get along. So, some of my memories hold less love for me – teams where egos soared – and somehow (or not) we were able to overcome our differences (or indifference). I also remember partnerships where we played openly, dreamt big, and pushed out into new territory. These two experiences definitely felt different from one another, but what exactly it was that made one experience more collaborative than the other I can’t say. When it works, this is how I see it: we feel the love for collaboration when we open up to experiencing love of the group, the alchemy of diverse ideas and thoughts being voiced and nurtured. Like the way rich soil surrounds and nurtures a seed. When we act with the richness of soil, we become the catalyst for breathing life into something bigger than what is possible alone. Cynics tell me collaboration yields mediocrity. My message for the cynics: try less dirt and more soil.

Love for dust?

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Imagine when you were 6 years old, being told that for the next 12 years you’d be assigned a random topic of study – say apples, or leaves or dust. Would you end up loving or hating your topic? What if you got dust ? Sounds absurd? Maybe. Maybe not.

A group of researchers at SFU’s Imaginative Education Research Group, led by professor Kieran Egan is betting on the side of love. Recently, I attended IERG’s advisory board meeting and heard, first hand, Kieran passionately explain the Learning in Depth program. He also openly admitted that “most people feel it’s a wacky idea” and the implications are problematic.  However, these obstacles have not hindered Kieran or his team. Convinced by research that students retain depressingly little over their 12 years of school, the LID program was conceived and is being launched in several schools. By assigning a student one area of study for their entire education, Kieran and his team believe that students will learn to explore endless dimensions and discover how learning can grow – and ultimately, over time, learn to love learning at a deeper level.

So far, the evidence for this unusual exploration in education is positive. I still can’t help wondering if I was assigned Dust to study for 12 years, could I really learn to love it?  Kieran is convinced I would. All I know is that you certainly have to love educators like Kieran.

To learn more: listen to Kieran on CBC radio.