Tuesday, September 13, 2011

JDS Insights: August 2011

August for a teacher really means one thing: Summer Holidays.

Although it didn't feel so much like that for me for several reasons. I didn't go away anywhere on holiday (combined with being in and out of school) and I managed to sprain my ankle quite badly doing Urban Krav Maga. I suppose it comes with the territory that I was going to injure myself.

It meant that I was showing some kind of a limp for the month of August. It also mean no exercise. I *never* thought I'd get to the stage where I'd miss exercising - but there it is!

Funnily enough, I also wrote my first guest blog post for Urban Krav Maga - you can see it here. I'm quite proud of it - because on a whim all I did was ask the instructor if he'd like me to write something and he just agreed!*

Despite only having one ankle to play with, I still pwned everyone on a dancefloor in Bristol...

Apart from that...the riots were shocking...and yet not (perhaps I say that as a teacher). As was the way I kept up with what was going on - Twitter! I suppose it really came of age during the Arab Spring. Here in the UK it took something like those riots to showcase some interesting commentary.

Summer holidays are also a time where I read a load of stuff. Except this year I developed the beginnings of a rather disconcerting habit of reading several books at once. I attribute it to owning a Kindle and I'm calling it 'The Kindle Effect'. It's brought on by the fact that several (thousand) books can be carried at any one time...and I've ended up flicking from book to book a little.

I've settled on one that I'm really into - but that will be in September's blog in a bit more detail.

The two that caught me were: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and


:59 Seconds Think a Little, Change a Lot by Richard Wiseman


The first is actually a classic of self-help/ financial literature and is based on research of some very historically wealthy figures. It's a little 'American Dream' type stuff but the fundamentals are sound. I really think it's way, way ahead of its time - perhaps it's the earliest example of the self-help genre. I don't know if anyone's examined a history of that type of book but it's great. In truth I got it because it was 75p on Kindle - and I'd been recommended to read it by someone I respect.

The second was on Derren Brown's recommended reading list from his blog. (There are some fascinating recommendations on there!) It's written by a professor and based on scientific study of so-called 'self-help' techniques and actually debunks and destroys them. A great read!

This month I also learned a valuable lesson about not interfering in stuff but holding the space for something to happen. I have a tendency to think I know everything about everything and can become hard-headed about stuff. Sometimes the way to resolve a situation between people is to give them space to breathe and own their own humanity.

No mean feat for a pushy so-and-so like me...

It produced a dramatic result that's made a couple of important areas of my life a bit more relaxing...

And of course, August was about the culmination of the teaching profession. Everywhere teenagers were getting exam results and validating teachers lives. I was very proud of my a-level guys and proud of the whole year group going to university. I've written about them here. I wish them very well.

The AS guys were slightly different...but not unexpected...

GCSEs were similar...and I assert another truism: that the amount of work put in is related to the results achieved.

Funny that.

So August was mainly spent reading, thinking and drinking hot chocolate in coffee shops. Can't think of a better way to spend it really...

By the way - if you click on a link about a book and end up buying it...it helps me! I'm trying out some Amazon affiliate stuff...so perhaps more detailed reviews will come along the way...

That was August.**
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Aug 01: Speaking without listening is like breathing without air.

Aug 02: Owning our own upset gives our self a space to breathe.

Aug 03: Saying what makes a difference requires an appropriate expression of truth.

Aug 04: Saying what makes a difference cannot be done when upset.

Aug 05: Saying what makes a difference requires standing one's ground.

Aug 06: Saying what makes a difference needs deep understanding of another.

Aug 07: Saying what makes a difference is knowing when not to interfere.

Aug 08: All behaviour is a communication.

Aug 09: Whilst listening, breathe.

Aug 10: Acknowledge, discuss and attempt to understand differences.

Aug 11: Create violence by hating the difference.

Aug 12: Create violence by enhancing the difference.

Aug 13: Create violence by ignoring ignorance.

Aug 14: Create violence by division.

Aug 15: The root of the problem is often difficult to identify.

Aug 16: The root of a problem is found when someone is willing to take responsibility.

Aug 17: Stand back and let people sort out their differences. Hold the space and love both sides.

Aug 18: One of the hardest things to do is give space for love to grow.

Aug 19: Listening to someone requires me to be silent.

Aug 20: I can't make anyone listen to me, any more than I can make them think something.

Aug 21: Push and something will push back.

Aug 22: You can't achieve a goal without measurement.

Aug 23: Without a stated commitment and goal, achievement is nothing but chance.

Aug 24: Getting to the root of something provides choice.

Aug 25: Getting to the root of something requires a willingness to be responsible.

Aug 26: Our minds are like gardens: regular maintenance required for effective growth; otherwise weeds overrun.

Aug 27: Without space to grow, nothing lives.

Aug 28: Knowledge and action are different. Taking action is what makes life happen.

Aug 29: Knowledge of something doesn't mean I will act to change it. All my exams tested my knowledge. Oh well.

Aug 30: To close down life, close your mind.

Aug 31: Having an open mind, opens life.
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*He did misspell my surname: De Souza instead of D'Souza...but I'm glad my words are out there!

**They all came from me.