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The Dialogic Learning Weekly #195

Welcome to this week's musings on leadership, learning and innovation. I hope you are safe and well.
The Dialogic Learning Weekly
The Dialogic Learning Weekly #195
By Tom Barrett • Issue #195 • View online
Welcome to this week’s musings on leadership, learning and innovation. I hope you are safe and well.
This week we explore: the threats posed by our inner voice; the efficacy of goals for professional growth and a creative thinking technique to try.

Great Expectations
As part of a leadership course I have been writing and facilitating, we have looked at the Pygmalion Effect mental model. A psychological phenomenon where high expectations potentially lead to improved performance. 
It is worth noting that the early research has been contested in various ways, and it links to the concept of Collective Efficacy. This is an idea that has become prominent within education over the last decade.
My exploration, research and rabbit hole tunnelling, caused me to discover the article below about the dangers of perfectionism.
We all know students and teaching colleagues, friends or family, who exhibit behaviours that we might label perfectionism. Often these are referred to with a positive spin.
“There has been some suggestion that, in some cases, perfectionism might be healthy and desirable. Based upon the 60-odd studies that we’ve done, we think that’s a misunderstanding,” says York St John University’s Hill. “Working hard, being committed, diligent, and so on – these are all desirable features. But for a perfectionist, those are really a symptom, or a side product, of what perfectionism is. Perfectionism isn’t about high standards. It’s about unrealistic standards.
“Perfectionism isn’t a behaviour. It’s a way of thinking about yourself.”
From the BBC article by Amanda Ruggeri, I learned about the research and complexity of perfectionism (adaptive vs maladaptive).
It resonates with me because of my work with feedback and critique loops and the unintentional harm to creative thinking that surfaces from poorly facilitated feedback. The article also struck a chord because I have seen first hand the ill effects on students and their learning disposition of extreme perfectionism.
Your Talking Point
  • What resonates with your experience?
  • Why is this a pressing mental health issue for us?
  • How does this connect with our assessment practices?
The Dangerous Downsides of Perfectionism
Eyes on the Prize (?)
For a little while now, I have been pondering on the efficacy of goal setting for professional growth. I wonder if you might help me understand this better.
How effective is the practice of setting goals?
Here are some of my ponderings.
  • Perhaps this is one of those “it depends on the context” type of queries. Regardless, I have been wondering for some time whether we should bother at all.
  • Can we predict a future version of our selves? Even if we could do this with enough accuracy to be worthwhile, isn’t the journey more important?
  • If you uncouple “taking action” from “goal setting”, what might happen? Do they come as a pair?
  • Clarity comes from taking action.
  • I am an advocate and proponent, even janissary of the Fuzzy Goal.
  • I am growing more averse to describing goals as SMART. The world needs fewer acronyms, and the characteristics seem somewhat flawed.
  • What if you just had a set of guiding principles and took action. Your action is the learning, underpinned with continuous and open course-correcting from the insights you learn.
  • Why do schools continue to use a year-long professional growth plan for individual teachers? I know it doesn’t have the impact we want.
Reply to this email and let me know what you think.
Think in Metaphors
If you ever hit a block with the development of an idea or project, try thinking in metaphors.
Your weekly newsletters are perfectly digestible servings of insight. Always great food for thought.
Using metaphors is a powerful method of creative thinking that often generates new connections and perspectives.
When you use a metaphor to link two ideas together, you are combining elements that have little or no logical connection. By breaking the rules of logic in this way, metaphors can open up the creative side of the brain – the part that is stimulated by images, ideas, and concepts. So metaphorical thinking can help you with creative problem solving: To use another famous metaphor, it helps you “think outside the box”. ~ Metaphorical Thinking
During a workshop on “what do we value about great learning?” I asked participants to use a tree metaphor. This helped categorise, refine and develop the ideas they had created.
What if we organised this as a tree.
What if we organised this as a tree.
The word metaphor originates from Greek metapherein, meaning ‘to transfer’
Your Talking Points
  • What do you notice when people switch into talking about the metaphor? How does it change the creative energy?
  • What is one of your favourite examples of metaphor use in education?
  • Choose an idea or project you are developing. Connect it to a metaphor and explore your work with a new perspective.
Thanks. You made it to another Friday, and I am grateful you are here, of all places, exploring my newsletter. I’d be grateful if you shared the link with your networks and encourage your colleagues to subscribe.
Stay safe. Have a great weekend.
In dialogue we trust.
~ Tom Barrett
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Tom Barrett

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