Roland Dürre
Wednesday August 23rd, 2017

Why We Need Christophine! (II)

Why We Need Christophine! (I)

That is what I wrote on July, 12th. It was a few days after I, at the age of 67, was permitted to once again attend primary school. At Christophine. And it makes me very happy how much encouragement I received after having published my article.

This is how I make the experience that my criticism about how children world-wide are “educated” and “instructed” more than a loner’s issue. Because if we talk school, we mostly mean that a young person is “trained” or “formatted” – and the appreciation of the child is totally neglected.

How you can treat children with respect and give them space to learn and experience life under their own control and highly motivated is exactly what I was allowed to see on June, 23rd in Marbach on the river Neckar. Here is my report:

On this Friday, I was part of the class for half a day. Being a nervous new student, I was, naturally, very early. And I enjoyed how the boys and girls arrived one after the other. All of them were in a good mood and joyful – apparently they were quite happy to go to school.

As soon as the class was complete, they all sang a song together. The song was a welcome in many languages – so we shared looking forward to the day.

After the song, the first round of this Friday morning went to the children. They told the class about an experience that had been important to them. One of the children moderated the round – each day, this task is assigned to a different child.
A self-made cardboard box was handed from narrator to narrator – it had a green circle on one side and a red circle on the opposite side. As long as a child spoke, the listeners were shown the red side (Please do not talk, listen to me!).

As soon as the narrator was finished and questions were allowed, the box was turned around and everybody saw the green side (Now your questions and comments are welcome!).

It was great to see how nice and short both the narratives and the questions and answers were. How the children paid attention while listening and letting everybody say all they wanted to say. I had to think of all the brutal chaos I so often experienced during many discussions with grown-ups (meetings with very important persons) …

The second round was about planning the work ahead. The children decided what they wanted to do during the rest of the morning. I was quite surprised to see the high degree of motivation shown by the children and how realistic they were about evaluating their own competence, which is what they then based their activities on.

At the Christophine, nobody is forced to sit down. That is why all the children wear very soft-soled shoes, because they do not want to disturb others when they work. Because that is an important right. You can also demand it (Please do not disturb me while I am working!). You can work in groups or individually, depending on what makes sense to you. And if the weather is fine, you can also work outdoors.

It stroke me that, at the Christophine, there is an order that serves everybody. It is not seen as a constraint.

Instead, it is seen as something that allows a successful social setting. Nor is it self-serving. Instead, it creates a workspace that allows a reasonable treatment both for yourself and together with others.

The language at this school is full of mutual respect – and I would call it “altero-centric”. The children listen, let others finish and relate to what the other child wants. This is very rare among adults. Consequently, I saw a surprising degree of true and violence-free communication at this school. I saw how people relate to each other as I do not often see it with grown-ups.

Naturally, there was also a conflict situation. However, this situation was not waltzed over by teachers, nor was anybody punished. The quarrelling parties (one was a boy, the other a girl) were advised to deal with the conflict situation in a reasonable way. And when it became difficult, the two young people were invited to retreat and solve their problem in private. And when, later on, they went to the village fountain and both put their hands under water, the conflict was over.

And whenever the grown-up world came to mind, I had tears in my eyes. Yes, Rupert Lay was quite right when he said that children are wise creatures. And that we, the parents and teachers, sacrifice their wisdom on the altar of education.

And I also believe that we have actually made progress, for instance through the Montessori School ( Montessori Schule) concept. But that is not enough for me. What we need is many free and self-organized schools with a modern concept. Without indoctrination and central rules.

Now I enjoy the Greek sun. And I wonder what I can do for Christophine.

In my current life phase, I try to find my own peace and multiply my love. Because this is the basis of everything else. I spend a lot of time helping mentees (while they study and when they start their professional careers) and young entrepreneurs (with their start-ups). This is because I want them to become more successful and happier in their lives.

I support young mothers on their way back into work by helping them to write “alternative cv-s” (telling them to describe what they can and wish to do, instead of what they did in the past).

With friends of mine, I founded barcamps and PM Camps and similar events in order to make the concepts of “new ideas” and “breaking patterns” more popular. All the time, I am busy building networks for people in general in order to make them stronger and greater together. And I try to live a mobility that makes sense and I express my desire for peace.

And some of it actually seems to work out quite well. That is something that really makes me a little happier.

But would it not be better to invest my time and strength by helping the very small and weak people? Our children and grandchildren. As I see it, they are worse off each year, because they are robbed of their freedom and indoctrinated more and more due to so-called practical constraints. Just because you want them to become nice citizens and
consumers.

Basically, our society wants the very best, but then they could not do a worse job if they tried. Unfortunately, our children are the best example for this. Consequently, should it not be my main goal to do something for our children? To make them feel big, instead of small? And to give them a chance towards getting the best start for a successful life as free and autonomous persons?

Well, those are the typical ideas you get during a wonderful time-out.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
The “Marbacher Pädagogik“ by Lorenz Obleser is something I consider a match for the modern concept we need. In my article “Christophine III”, I will try to formulate something with him and other protagonists of Christophine in the IF blog.

Roland Dürre
Wednesday July 12th, 2017

Why We Need Christophine! (I)

On June, 21st, I went to the “Schiller-Town” of Marbach. I spent the night in Freiberg/Neckar and on June, 22nd, I continued towards Marbach. A friend from long-ago days – Thomas Kleiner – was nice enough to accompany me during travels. Thanks to him, I met Lorenz Obweser and Ruth Martinelli and almost 20 children aged between six and ten. Because I sat in a classroom of the Free School “Christophine“ in Marbach. However, the term is misleading, because in the Christophine, nobody just sits the entire morning. On this morning, I experienced something so beautiful and great that I was moved to tears.

I experienced how

SCHOOL

can function in such a way that you enjoy going there! Even the children and teachers!

But first the bad news:

I have now spent some time being a little sad. My grandchildren are wonderful and rather wise small persons. But in a few, or a little more than a few years, they will start school. And then the sad part of life begins for them. I, too, do not know how to protect them from the destiny that most German children have to endure after they are six years old.

Because school – both as I remember it myself and how I experienced it when my seven children were there – is atrocious. Not only in Germany and many European countries, school is something really backward-oriented and truly evil. With few exceptions, this diagnosis is true for the entire world, and especially for Asia.

School, as we have it today, will damage our children just like it damaged us. That ruins our society and is detrimental to our future. Many persons only recover step by step when they are adults, some never.

In the following, I will relate to you what I find so evil about the classical school system and give reasons why we need to change this system if we want to gain social progress in the form of peace and more justice.


Everyday life at school in Germany (and perhaps world-wide) is worse than sad!


In our system, education means “trained authoritative learning in a quasi-military format”. Knowledge -bulimia prevails. It starts as early as primary school. Luckily, it is no longer quite as bad as it was in the times of the German pedagogue Dr. Moritz Schreber.

Roland on his first day at school (with the bag of sweets).

But they still drill students. You have to sit and cannot unfold. An hourly scheduled is pressed upon the children. Self-organization and self-determining are prevented. There is no way for the children to learn and practice when and what they want.

Agile, slim and transparent are words schools do not know. There is a clear hierarchy between teachers and children. Incidentally, the mechanism goes from bad to worse. This is why school has more and more problems. If that happens, the children are blamed and their poor socialization is cited as a reason. The parents get the blame.

Because they failed in their duty to bring the children up properly. Well, once in a while, this is probably true, but in the majority of the cases, it is not true. In those cases, parents suffer under school just as much as their children.


At school, achievement is the absolute maxim, often even worse than in real life.


The achievement-oriented society is already practiced. Everybody is evaluated, graded and judged. In primary school, it is all about achieving grammar school level. That will only work if the child adapts to the system “school” and submits to it. The ordering principle of school is clearly hierarchical. The magic word is authority. You learn obedience.

The children learn that you have to more or less accept everything you learn, along with the process.


Whenever school does not function, the teachers and society blame the parents.


Because the parents never taught their children how to respect others. Especially the teachers. As I wrote before: sometimes that is true, but usually it is not.

In order to enable the children to manage the transfer from primary school to grammar school in this miserable situation, there is an army of – mostly black-clad – private tutors who, during the few free hours, give the children an extra hard time. And thus – mostly under many tears – they are pushed more or less successfully over the threshold to the grammar school level.

I was often a “child that had no respect”. And I often doubted what they told me, and I also said what I thought. And time and again, I was punished for it. Because the teacher is always right. At school, there is collective obedience. After all, an order is an order you need to carry out. I, too, made that experience.


More than once, they also gave me accusatory feedback about my “being different”. Mind you, all I wanted is: be me.


Later in life, I reversed the roles. I justified the “bad habits” I had also been punished for in an intellectually tricky way, calling them “civil courage” and “constructive disobedience”. Those were attributes that made me exceptional.

But, basically, the school system is based on suppression. There is an order. There must be an order, because humans need order. However, it is not there for the student but for the system, and therefore against the student.

Because this is the only way for the system and the teachers to make students a homogeneous mass (that is at least what school thinks). Between eight and nine, everybody has to do calculations and between nine and ten, everybody has to read. Between ten and eleven, you have physical exercise and from eleven to twelve, you write. And between twelve and one, you get religious instruction. At school, you have to sit and “behave” most of the time. Otherwise, you get punished.

All this is justified by postulating that there is no other way of doing things. It is the only way you can learn efficiently. But that is a huge lie!


The full-time school makes matters even worse. All those free afternoons in our youth that should be reserved for playing, thinking, experiencing and living are no longer available.


Now we get the full-time school. More and more often, children will also be transported to have lunch and “levelled-out” with convenient food. The schools look like barracks and are not places where you can flourish and meet at eye-level.

Schools are organized and managed following military examples, the small persons are administered, their value is the same as that of recruits during basic training in times of compulsory service. The new buildings at grammar schools (or rather: educational plants or barracks) I know at Neubiberg, Ottobrunn and Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn also reflect this attitude in their architecture.

You have long corridors with many doors that lead to the many classrooms like hoses. You often cannot open the windows and the air conditioning creates bad air that gives the “teaching staff” headaches. Looking at these educational plants, you are reminded more of barracks than of free places where you learn something and practice for life. And since these buildings have been constructed with little money (during the bidding, the price is the most important criterion, which means the cheapest architect will win), it will not be long before you notice the first signs of decay.

To make up for it, the administrative overhead grows and grows. This is how education becomes more and more expensive – but not much of it reaches the “final customer: child”.


All social systems need structure. Both children and grown-ups look for something to lean on. But the structure of schools should support children, instead of working against them.


At school, nobody considers the great diversity potential that small people have. For reasons of efficiency and because of limited budgets, it is neither possible nor desired. They scale and measure, certify and grade. What is taught is achievement.

In short: they indoctrinate you because you need to function. After all, society needs consumers. Autonomy and the ability to criticise are not welcome.

Once in a while, something happens that gives you hope. Because the teacher is really a nice person. But the best teachers are few and far between and sooner or later they will capitulate in front of an educational system that has de-personalized itself. And the best they can hope to do is perhaps minimize the damage that the system produces. And teachers will be selected for their good grades. However, those with the best grades are seldom pedagogically the best. The best will then try to find a job in a private school or drive a taxi or do some private tutoring.


Children, too, should be treated as if they were humans!


I actually once heard this lapse of the tongue (although it was not from a teacher but from an entrepreneur who did not say “children” but “employees”). To be sure, I certainly was only a lapse of the tongue. However, I strongly believe that, deep down, it was what the person who said it believed and felt.


Economy is now learning that motivation will only work intrinsically . At school, they practice 100% extrinsic  patterns. That cannot end well.


Today, everybody, be it Allianz or Siemens, wants to change work-life. #newwork is fashionable, promoting a more innovative and creative approach. One of the protagonists of this movement is Thomas Sattelberger, the “Saul/Paul” of the #newwork-movement. He promotes himself like no other and runs through the country with his message of salvation. After his concern career, the thing that made him most famous was “Augenhöhe, der Film“.

Now he visits everybody and criticizes what he witnesses in local enterprises. Justly so. He would like to crown his life’s work with a seat in the German parliament – for the FDP (is that a fitting combination? FDP and #newwork?). It will make me happy if Mr. Sattelberger, as soon as he sits in parliament, promotes agile and humane schools. But that is another thing I do not really believe in.

For instance, most of the enterprises would like to become more agile, slim and transparent. At least that is what the colleagues of HR (Human Resource – another one of those ugly terms used in the modern working environment) preach. They look for innovative employees who are creative in order to enable their enterprises to manage the transition caused – among other things – by digitalization. At HR, they talk about eye-level, #newwork, intrinsify.me, democratic enterprise, common-good economy, “shared mobility“ & “shared economy“ and many similar issues. They dream of a network of self-organized teams, of a new entrepreneurial culture and communities of shared values. The latter are also quite popular in politics. There are many more catch-words of this type in the new world of old enterprises.
Except how do you expect that to work out if our offspring is trained to do quite the opposite as soon as they start school?


Enterprises want agile, critical and creative people. Yet that is exactly what schools beat out of the young students?


But nobody talks about #newschool, about self-organisation at school, about democratic classrooms, about teaching at eye-level and similar things. At least in Germany, this is not desired. It is taboo!

Terms such as #home-schooling, #un-schooling #no-schooling gain popularity in Europe. They find more and more supporters. More and more people “school” their own children (see also the video of a presentation by Bruno Gantenbein for me).

In Switzerland and some other EU countries, home-schooling is a process that is well established and supported by the administration. Germany is the only EU country where home-schooling is prohibited! Because in this country, they fear alternative schools and alternative thinking as much as the devil fears holy water.


Perhaps there will soon be a disproportionally high number of self-owned and free schools in our country.


But perhaps that is a good thing. Because it creates huge pressure. If there is no chance to escape, then there might possibly be more willingness to change something than in other countries.

Roland without the bag of sweets.

But back to the enterprises. How are we supposed to find these new agile, creative, open, … employees if agility, creativity and openness are the very characteristics that our schools kill most efficiently?

Because in our schools, children are treated as raw material that needs to be formatted. The input is curious and free creatures. The output is small professionals. They function as an obedient and easily controllable society supposedly needs them to function. Consequently, the first thing they will be is: diligent labourers, brave consumers and law-abiding citizens – whose first priority it is to always accept what the upper echelons decree.


We demand elites who solve our massive problems, but at the same time we are content with mediocrity and foul-mouth populism. And we promote mediocrity in schools.


Why is it that children must realize very early that life is no pony-farm and that they are part of the achievement system if they wish to make something out of their lives? That they must follow practical constraints, just like their parents and all the other grown-ups?

They are measured and graded. It is always about being better than the others. Success is everything. It is all about managing to reach the next step in the ladder of an irrational career. No matter what it costs and how it is done.

Emotions, erotic, life, love, the competence to solve conflicts, being able to listen … all those things play no role in the curriculum. You have to become a professional resource for the fight on the business front. And you learn that it is better for your wealth, growth and safety not to say what you think and perhaps not even to think.
And as soon as they understand this, they visit the tattoo factory just to protest, because there they will finally get something permanent. As a last substitute activity before they give up their own lives. …


Good entrepreneurs (leaders, managers, … ) will want to make their employees look bigger on a daily basis, rather than smaller.


I rather love the principle of “acting in a biophile way”. That means (in my own words):
Always behave in such a way that what you do will contribute more towards the lives of other people becoming more, rather than less, in many dimensions.

Perhaps the Golden Rule (Goldene Regel ) is even easier to live than the biophile maxim:
“Treat others the same way you yourself would like to be treated“
Or in the negative form:
“If you do not want it to happen to you, don’t do it to others!“


“Biophile Maxime of Behaviour” and the “Golden Rule”? Why don’t we use it for our children? Why don’t we make them big, instead of small?


From early on, children are made to look smaller, rather than bigger. Not just by the teachers, but also by their parents. I witness all the time how children are massively instructed by their parents about what is right and what is wrong. Ranting mothers scold their children for totally normal behaviour. There is stupid moralizing and indoctrination. What is appropriate and what is not! What you do and what you do not do! What is possible and what is impossible. What you can see/hear and what you cannot see/hear under any circumstances. What is evil and what is good.

For what behaviour you will end up in hell and for what in heaven. And as soon as a child is six and enters school, matters continue in the same way, only more professionally.


Nobody is interested in hearing what small people want and do not want.


At school, you undergo formatting in that they form you according to the current image of a good grown-up. Children have to fit into our world. They learn to survive traffic. They become young consumers who define themselves by what they own and how they look. They have to function, but they are not allowed to be and do what they themselves want to do and be.

At school, ratio and your IQ dominate, they are always in the foreground. It is all about developing an understanding of all the absurdities our life offers. You have to accept the absurd as a matter of course and thus become part of the absurdity.
Social life and the common good only play a minor role. Emotions and eros, love and friendship are not practiced, the same is true for the competence to solve conflicts. Because our systems are based on adaptation. They survive by interchangeability, uniformity, (financial) metrics and the fact that the citizens follow social patterns blindly like lemmings. The ability to criticize things and be autonomous in all you think and do will only be a hindrance.


We will only reduce the latent enmity inside us if we socialize our children differently.


School is one of many places where the old role-plays prevail. Boys still have to be small heroes and cannot cry. Girls are expected to be humble and tolerant. Today, you can show emotions, but it is better not to do so.


If you want to be a success, you have to become Mr. or Mrs. Poker-Face!


Emotions are something you should not allow to get too near, it is seen as a detrimental and annoying weakness. You have to be strong and may never show your weakness. This is how the heart is surrounded by iron rings. If you like someone, it is better not to show it, the universal love for creation is considered a crazy idea. Standing upright as your outer shell is part of the education, but unfortunately not taught as a higher inner value.

This stupid socializing of our offspring will never minimize the wide-spread sickness Alexithymia. A short time ago, a man my own age cried next to me when he told me how his grandchild had died during her birth. I am not sure if that is something I would still be capable of. However, if I watch a sappy film, I start to cry. Isn’t that terrible?

As many others, I fear that I am dependent on “second-hand emotions”. That is doubtless a result of my early and long upbringing. Consequently, I now practice consciously opening myself to real emotions. At the age of 67, that is not easy.


Humans are the crown of creation. But they have to fit into the world.


I am glad that the world changes – at least in the developed and privileged societies I know. It seems to me that more and more persons have a yearning for new “social success patterns”. Well, they are something we badly need, because the old patterns are exactly what brought great misery to this planet.

Schools are the only places where this news has not yet found its way into. And the situation also gets worse and worse at the universities. There are numerous #newwork but no relevant movement #newschool. Many people who work in the educational industry (active teachers and administrators of the educational bureaucracy) told me that the situation has been getting worse for many years.


Schools must serve the children, not vice versa!


Curricula and rules given by the educational ministries make it harder by the year to do justice to the small persons. Additionally, you have an ever increasing administration that eats up the time that should have been spent with the students. This is how the system also becomes more and more expensive and more and more inefficient.


This was the bad news. Here is the good news.


In my next article, I will write how the citizens fight back and create totally new things. Because they actually exist: the Christophine.

But you will read more about this in my article Christophine 2, which I will hopefully  publish here soon. I will describe a school that, as far as its motto and its practical work is concerned, has absolutely convinced me. A school that proves that things can work differently – and work quite well, too.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

My appreciation for the powerful in our society is dwindling. The population no longer understands how they act and, what is more, how they govern us. After all, it seems like they react more than they act. And how they reign over us and control us.

What is the reason for the growing dissatisfaction with what our politicians, managers and representatives of associations do? Mind you, it happens regardless of all of us basically being good-natured and being quite prepared to overlook the weaknesses and incompetence of our compatriots.

Let me try to explain the phenomenon.

20160602_160932_resized

Here are a few characteristics of human nature.

Some people impress me. They are successful and still humble and humane. They create new things, radiate joy and courage, act and make a difference on a daily basis.

Here are a few ideas of mine – again, they are model-like and I know full well that there is no black-and-white. Some characteristics make humans happy and successful.

  • Experience

    Numerous things belong in that category: 
Experiences from living with a partner. The experience of having you own children. The willingness to exchange the enmity you harbour against yourself and others against joy. The readiness to also embrace extreme situations, as well as to personally take pains, even until you reach a border. The experience of good and poor cooperation in teams. Practicing authentic communication. Gaining and working towards principles in life, such as the ability to be happy and the readiness to accept love. Knowing that you always should first be prepared to give, rather than take. Inner contentment that you can only reach if a necessary amount of physical exercise is reached. Connecting with nature.
    My playful comment on this concept, which I actually mean quite seriously, is that humans need to be “kept species-appropriate”. However, it seems that the heads of our society cannot manage to do this at all.
  • Education
    Today, I define education mostly as the conscious tackling with questions of humanity and society, because everything else can directly or indirectly be found on the internet. If you want a “good education”, you need to be lucky enough to meet the right teachers. It can be individual persons or teams. You need to learn from masters who help you to ask the right questions and to unveil your own prejudices. You need to learn how to be a critical listener and how to quickly discover rhetorical tools. And then you need to practice, practice, practice. All through your life.
    I sadly miss all these things in the heads of our society.
  • Autonomy

    First and foremost, autonomy is the willingness and capability to take responsibility for your own life. 
Looking at the lives of (not only) our “powerful”, I discover that these often seemingly so successful persons, in particular, often live a “second hand” life. External manipulation creates their needs. What they want, what might be good or bad, is controlled from the outside. Artificial reactions beat sadness or joy about things that happen in real life. For instance, it is easier to cry when watching “Love Story” in the cinema than when you bury a friend. They no longer understand that consumption is not the path towards “happiness”. Empathy is replaced by an intellectual, ethic-rational definition that tells you when and how you might show your emotions. And they believe in endless growth. …
  • Freedom
    They exchanged their freedom for being famous and having a career. They are no longer the masters and mistresses of their own lives. They can no longer do what they really would like to do and, even if asked to, cannot do what their individual needs demand.

Especially the powerful functionaries, politicians and business managers are subject to an enormous control from the outside. As a general rule, they have become slaves of their own system. Their lives are controlled by an excessive calendar and an accompanying team of humans who tell them what to do for months in advance.

This is how I perceive the powerful of our world when I meet them in our country or watch them in the media. They are always in a hurry, always stressed out, always artificial, with many beautiful words but without ever making a commitment. To me, they look like representatives of another world or, even worse, zombies of a system that by now has become perverted.

Where are they now, the authentic personalities in top positions who are authentic and focused and who actually find peace inside themselves? I mean those who have no need to constantly proof their value by, basically, just saying what everybody wants to hear and then permanently having to ingratiate themselves?

The Selection Criteria on your Way to Power

The answer is that the characteristics I demand in such a personality diametrically oppose the selection criteria on the way to power. Because if you wish to become rich and powerful, all the factors I described before do not count. In fact, they are quite a hindrance and will make sure you will be a failure in this world. Even at school, all you need to do is behave. When growing up, you have to submit to a huge indoctrination that dominates our socialization. Doubts and ideas of your own will be punished. If you have better knowledge, said knowledge will have to be sacrificed in favour of climbing the ladder of success. Those who are not prepared to subordinate their own beliefs in favour of the patterns generated by the belief in the big lies of late capitalism will drown in the poker game of power. And then the traffic lights of the Germany AG will show the RED light for them.

The only way to accumulate power and wealth (which, basically, is the same thing) is if you strictly accept the dogmata and drugs of the “America-European values” and act as strictly in the frame set for these activities. You have to learn and become fluent in knowing how to use the rather absurd rules of the “shareholder value” to your own advantage. And you have to subjugate yourself completely under the perverse metrics of business and politics.

If, on top of all this, you also know the right people in the Germany AG or if you were born into the party oligarchy, then your career and money affairs will soon blossom.

So how can we change this world?

As I see it, actively planning anything based on ratio will not help at all. Evolution is called upon and it will solve the problem. The main reason why it will work is that the old die out. And I notice especially with young people that they think differently. Luckily, more and more of them no longer believe the rubbish we tell them. Instead, they discover themselves.

This is how evolution will soon create great surprises. The “digital transportation” might well be a driver. It will definitely be “a part of the solution”. But that, too, is something evolution is not really interested in.
RMD

Folégandros, June, 3rd, 2016, My ideas while eating my breakfast.
After yesterday’s long hike through the Greek sun.
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Friday March 11th, 2016

“Inspect-and-Adapt“ Your Estimates!

td-logoI always like visiting the Munich Techdivision. For me, this event, organized by my PM-Camp accomplice Sacha Storz, is very attractive. The next event is on March, 16th, 2016, between 7 and 8.30 p.m. They finish earlier than usual, because they want the visitors to have the chance to be back home in front of their TV sets for the Bayern Soccer Game. The location is the TechDivision offices at 73, Balanstr. (building 8, 3rd floor) in 81541 München.

Here is the official call for participation:

According to estimations by User Stories, project planning still plays a central role in agile software development. Imprecise estimations will, for instance, cause higher costs than planned or a longer production time than originally agreed upon.

During a TechDivision study, we investigated the User Story Estimates in four different projects. The goal was: identify problems and propose improvements. It is a rather well-known principle – after all, there is always an “inspect-and-adapt” framework in Scrum.

But: how can it be adapted to estimates? And how are the results of the study related to the #NoEstimates discussion?

I find the topic rather interesting. After all, I am a supporter of the provocative theory: “don’t estimate“– and I can find numerous reasons for this theory. In addition, I find it quite motivating that my own son Rupert will be the speaker.

About the speaker:
imagesRupert Dürre is a consultant at the Swedish IT company Netlight. His interests are various areas of agile software development in requirement engineering and development practices, such as also the question how to organize teams in order to make an effective cooperation possible.

Note:
There is no admission fee for the event. Please register at the website: event.

Well, next Wednesday at 7 p.m., I will be at Balanstrasse and I look forward to seeing many friends!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Friday February 12th, 2016

Three Phrases that can Destroy all Joy and Courage.

And I mean both for yourself and for others.

So klein ist der Mensch. Am linken Rand Muhamed, Führer und Freund.

We are back home! Humans are such small creatures. On the left, you can see Muhamed, our guide and friend.

Last week was the first time I saw the tombs and temples of the Pharaos. I learned many new things and had time to ponder.
I became aware of three phrases that can make life harder. The first one is

Yes, BUT …“
Early in life, I learned that it is probably not a good idea to say “yes, but” too often. It happened while I underwent management coaching.

In entrepreneurial everyday-life, I sometimes suffered under the “yes, but” attitude of the people around me. It probably never gained us very much.

When we decided
Hurrah, we will go on our first ever cultural Nile river trip!
the phrase re-surfaced.
I often heard it – sometimes I even heard myself saying it.

Yes, but what about our carbon dioxide footprint …
(a problem I take rather seriously) 
Yes, but aren’t cultural trips always so tedious …
(a temple a day, and sometimes two…)
Yes, but what about the long travel until we get there …
(it took almost 13 hours, first the train to Nuremberg, then the flight to Hurghada on the Red Sea and from there the bus to Luxor – another 380 km).
Yes, but we cannot do it because of the terrorist threat …
(while two trains collided in Munich)
and so on, and so forth …
And how stupid we would have been had we abstained from this trip!
The second phrase I mean is
Being opposed to something!

How often do I catch myself opposing something?
I oppose the gigantic subsidies of business cars. I oppose fascism. I oppose the stupidity of politicians. I oppose the coal harbour on the Barrier Reef in Australia. I oppose waste of food. I oppose bureaucracy. And so on, and so forth …

Just a few years ago, my friend Jolly Kunjappu declared that “being opposed to something” is a negative concept that will push you down. Why don’t we, instead, focus on what is nice, what we like and what we appreciate? This concept will give us courage and joy.

The third phrase is one that I was made aware of by Moslam last week. Moslam was our guide during our Nile river trip. We became friends. He regularly travels to Germany. Consequently, we also talked about his experiences in my home country and he told me how it always moves him when his German friends keep saying:
“We must …“

I know very well from my own experience what he means. I must go and buy some milk. After that, I must write an IF Blog article and evaluate business plans. And then I must meet Barbara for lunch at the Artemis (the Greek restaurant just around the corner). And in the afternoon, I must meet friends from the university at the Forschungsbrauerei for the brown ale initiation. And tomorrow, I must go and attend the F.re.e

But then, isn’t it wonderful that I can go and buy milk. After all, it is not at all a matter of course that, just around the corner, you can buy good milk in the brown bottle with 3.8 % fat. It actually still tastes like milk! And I always enjoy dining at the Artemis, because there the food tastes excellent and the Greek landlord and landlady are always so friendly. The Forschungsbrauerei, too, is always worth visiting and at the F.re.e , there are so many impulses waiting to tell me what I can do – thanks to the diversity of cultures and regions on our great planet.

These are all things I enjoy doing, because they are just wonderful – so why would I have to do them?

In a nutshell, I would say:
It pays to think and write in a “positive” way. If that is what you decide to do, you will feel and think more and more like it!

Pure luxury between Luxor and Assuan. Isn’t life just great?

Luxus pur von Luxor nach Assuan. Das Leben ist schön!

Luxus pur von Luxor nach Assuan. Das Leben ist schön!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday December 19th, 2015

Theses about the Future and History of Cultural Competences

Slideshow_startI learned at school that we have some “basic cultural competences”. Allegedly, they are the necessary basis for human progress. For instance calculating, reading and writing.
How about these competences today?

Calculating

Who of us can still do the multiplication tables by heart? Who of us can still do calculations without using paper for summations, subtractions, multiplications and divisions? Especially if there are several digits and you have to “store” some interim results?

Who of us is still versed about the formal methods for subtractions and multiplications on paper, or summations of long number colonies? I mean without having to spend a long time thinking how you used to learn it. Or who can still extract a root? Using nothing but pen and paper? These are the kinds of tasks you can use in a job interview if you quickly want to drive even academically educated candidates to extreme desperation.

As I see it, doing calculations is a cultural competence that is currently disappearing. Well, neither do we need it any longer, because our small electronic helpers can do a so much better job of it.

Consequently, many persons only have a rudimentary knowledge of calculations. Children do not learn it any more. Perhaps if they had “unschooling” conditions (or a Sudbury school), they might be interested in such exotic things as doing calculations by heart. Intrinsically motivated and as a game.

On the “normal” schools of this world, however, it will no longer work. Because they develop more and more into quasi military educational institutions with absolutely hierarchical structures. Where children are instructed (or rather: drilled) following a certain pattern. (Naturally), this is no way to force something on children that is hard to learn and apparently no longer needed.

Consequently, the cultural competence of calculating will only remain in a very rudimentary form. And I do not find this sad at all. After all, my teacher, F. L. Bauer (second generation computer science pioneer) taught me that, even a few centuries ago, the art of multiplication was taught at universities only up to a low one-digit number. Incidentally, at the time they used logarithmic tables – which resulted in imprecise results.

In other words: if I want to be happy, I do not need cultural competence I have to take pains to acquire. And I mean cultural competence that gains me nothing excerpt a headache at the end of the day!

Reading & Writing

This cultural competence is not yet as extinct as calculations. However, not only the “developed” countries have a drastically increasing number of both true and “rudimentary illiterates”. As a logical consequence, they now demand as part of barrier free access for public announcements for web design that the website has to be readable for “persons who only have rudimentary knowledge of reading, as well” in the USA.

This is another development that looks logical and clear to me. Audio and video are on the ascent, of course, the podcast beats the post, youtube & co beat the newspaper, etc.

Incidentally, these explanations of mine are not meant ironically. I am dead serious. Matters will continue in this direction. Here are some more steep theses of mine:

  • The high times of reading and writing arrived with the PC and the laptop.
    Writing with pen and paper has always been and is just atrocious. Written documents were optimized for the person who writes them, rather than with him. In former times, both the light for reading and the eyesight of the readers were poorer. Consequently, writing a document – and penmanship – were very time consuming and have thus become redundant. Only printing presses and later Johannes Gutenberg with his invention of movable metal letters brought the breakthrough for written media. Later, the typewriter made it a bit easier to produce readable written material, and so did the computer – regardless of sub-standard software like word. Thus, we had a last peak of writing that started with “vi” and is now at its end. Just look at the texts created on mobile telephones and tablets (aren’t they identical today?).
  • It is easier to learn how to draw and sketch than to learn how to read and write.
    Most technologies disappear after they have reached their peak. The written word will suffer the same fate. It will probably be replaced by drawing and sketching. Many people say they cannot draw. That is wrong. It is quite easy to learn how to produce pictures and express yourself in picture language.
  • Our technology is currently maturing towards drawing and sketching.
    So far, the only way to draw halfway decent pictures was on paper. There were disadvantages to this. The electronic assistants were not yet capable of supporting us in the same way as “word processor” supported an author. But now the tablets come – and suddenly drawing electronical pictures is easier than drawing on paper. Just like it happened in former times with writing. Undo, versioning, layout layers and many great features make you forget the erstwhile huge handicaps of drawing on paper. And it seems that they have only just started!
  • Our future belongs to images and sounds.
    Images say more than a thousand words. This was an experience made by early marketing, when they had posters on mobile vehicles such as trams. Adverts with text had failed on trams, because the trams had always turned the corner before the people could decipher the texts. It was a lot easier with pictures and very few words.
  • Perhaps there can be a consensus through pictures.
    As I see it, this is a very important side effect. Successful communication is probably the hardest of all challenges. We have tried for millennia to find consensus through linguistic and written communication. And we have failed just as long, as history proves. Why don’t we try pictures instead?

Here is my statement:

The future belongs to pictures and sounds. It will become socially as unimportant to write as it is now to do calculations. Rudimentary reading will be totally sufficient for understanding additional information such as for instance precise details. The main reason for this development is that the digital world, at long last, can create and make available pictures as easily and quickly as a simple calculator makes calculations or as the current collaboration tools make the use of documents available. This is how, in the long run, drawing, drafting and sketching on tablets (and their successors) will replace the “cultural competences” of reading and writing in the same way as the calculator has replaced the “cultural competence” of doing sums.

“Because it is so easy!”, or “Because that is how it is!”.

🙂 Even if then the IF Blog will have to become a podcast or/and an image blog.

RMD

Note:
Even today, films, for example, create more consensus than the great novels did in former times. And the more the art of reading gets lost, the more important audio and video will become.
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I took the picture from the website of Visual-Braindump (Christian Botta & Daniel Reinold).

Roland Dürre
Monday December 14th, 2015

More on Barcamp and Open Space

The Difference between “Traditional Conferences” and “Anti-Conferences”.

pmcamp-logo-dornbirnI understand more and more clearly that learning is a social activity. Formerly, I believed that I had learned a lot from individual persons and teachers. Now I notice that this is only partly true. Mostly, my teaches – even though I certainly learned a lot from them, too – were only the catalytic converters, initiating the contact between me and others, as well as communication.

If you see it under this light, then my life and learning was a continuing meeting with many people. Sometimes the meetings were rather intense, sometimes superfluous. But I always received some knowledge and experience, and probably also gave some in return. In all instances, we learned from each other and “impressed” something on the other party. Once in a while, we also rubbed against each other using different constructs. That, too, was helpful.

Experience, competence, knowledge, wisdom and prudence are often considered individual achievements. But this is not true. In fact, they are always the result of communication and collective socializing.

Seen under this light, anti-conferences are nothing but a tool for socialization. They enable you to promote intense and symmetrical communication through participation and thus to make the learning process considerably more dynamic. As opposed to traditional conferences that, to me, seem so much more strict and one-sided. Where the majority of attendants are forced to remain passive and consequently do not have as much fun.

A barcamp or an OpenSpace must under no circumstances become a conference, not even anything near it. Consequently, when organizing a barcamp, you should not overdo it by planning and preparing too much.

Two factors define an anti-conference: the session planning and the sessions. The planning of sessions is done together. It must consider the here and now and cannot come as a matter of routine. The same is true for the sessions: they must remain open. Yet they can be upgraded if all those wonderful formats like debate, Honest Consensus (Art of Hosting), Fish Bowl, Story Telling, Games, “prototyping” and much more are used more often.

Impulse presentations can be useful if they give mental incentive on the topic/motto, provided there is a topic or motto. Basically, this is not necessary. It is just as well if there is a good introduction making the people open up and thus creating the awareness for the requirements to be met if you want good communication, such as considerateness, respect, esteem, appreciation – that is: they make communication at eye-level possible.

About the Danger of Generating Bubbles.

Once in a while, people talk about the danger – also in the wake of the Dornbirn PM Camp – that “bubbles” might develop during a barcamp. The participants might get isolated from the rest of the world or become inbreeding.

To me, this seems quite possible. Because whenever humans meet in intense communication, they can easily lose their objective view of reality. Thus, a bubble can develop and, due to all those shared ideas, a group can establish itself (see: class reunion) or technological inbreeding (see: exclusion) can happen.

This is quite logical, because, naturally, similar-minded persons will tend to maintain their prejudices, rather than talk each other out of same prejudices. To be sure, I see only a minimum danger that is not a threat to good results. But here, too, you can try and counteract by trying to promote the desired pluralism through newbies. Because if the new recruits have the same mental concepts as the old ones, then change will be hard to achieve.

However, I think there is an easy way to counteract the development of “bubbles” in open movements. It is openness as such, which must be demanded and supported. And you should always take care that the participants have different sex and age, as well as social and technological background and also that otherwise a huge variety is promoted. This is only possible if your invitations are simple and transparent, thus appealing to all groups and classes.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday September 20th, 2015

Conference versus Anti-Conference

Why I no longer like conferences, yet love barcamps?
OR:
All the things that can happen during a barcamp!

Gute Laune in Dornbirn auf einem PM-Camp.

Enjoying ourselves at the Dornbirn PM Campp

I no longer like to attend conferences. Consequently, I only agree to be a speaker on such events in exceptional cases. For instance in the near future at the NurembergDOAG-Konferenz.
🙂 Or else if they pay me really well.

Because how do they choose speakers on conferences? Potential speakers must submit their articles at least six months before the conference, more often even earlier than that. Including a topic, a summary and an abstract. Mostly with a pre-defined number of words and following some stupid kind of word template.

But how am I supposed to know in January what will move me late in the year? How to know the development of affairs during the months until the actual presentation takes place?

After the deadline, the conference committee will meet. They are supposed to select the suitable articles. The jurors in the committee have to consider the event sponsors, countless representatives of interests and industry, diverse amigos, political influence and much more. They will not personally be acquainted with most of the persons who sent articles, which is why they cannot know about the competence of them as speakers. More often than not, they do not even have technological competence.

Young speakers who actually might have something important to contribute have no chance – and this is apparent if you look at the conference program.

Those who were lucky enough to have been selected must submit a manuscript. Again, it has to have a certain length, the word-template is usually even worse than before. The manuscript, too, has to be submitted quite a long time before the actual conference takes place. After all, the proceedings have to be printed.

Well, this is when I think: Why should I present something all the persons in the room have before them in writing? I always talk freely, without power-point or the like. Whenever I speak in a big lecture hall, I ask my graphics expert to design a few slides to emotionally underline what I am going to say. That is it. After all, the exact content of what I am going to say will only be determined on the day of the event – and it will even change during the presentations, because I follow the feedback I receive from my audience.

And then the great day will come. Mostly, a conference will start with a huge introductory affair, including welcoming all and sundry. The ability to remain awake and sitting on your bottom is put to a severe test among the audience. And then, the intense “one-way” noise machines will be turned on.

The speakers will dutifully read their manuscripts as typed in the proceedings. Some will do better, others worse. Interruptions are mostly not encouraged, so there is never a discourse. Someone up front will say something that has been previously prepared and the audience down below are supposed to consume it.

A short time ago, I attended an academic meeting with a dear friend of mine (no less than a rather highly respected professor). It was more or less the same as always. When I told her that the contributions had been surprisingly low-standard, she consoled me with the information that the presentations were actually just of minor importance. The important thing, so she said, is that you meet and exchange ideas with people. And that the evening event, in particular, is the true value of the meeting.

And it is basically true – if we wish to advance ourselves, we have to share our knowledge and communicate amongst each other. But then, why should I listen to presentations all day long if nobody is interested in those? Perhaps it is only so we can tell the tax office something official took place and that we had a legitimate reason to travel and talk over food and wine in the evening…

PM-Camp Berlin 2015, Thema Komplexität by VisualBrainDump

Berlin PMCamp 2015 about: Complexity by VisualBrainDump.

At a barcamp, it is totally different. And as I see it, it is better!

So, what is a barcamp? Of course, you will find an excellent description in Wikipedia. Let me try and approach the definition under a totally different light.

Imagine between fifty and a hundred persons meeting. For instance bloggers, entrepreneurs or experts. Or persons who are prepared to take a special social responsibility, or simply persons who share an interest in something.

Ideally, we are talking persons who enjoy sharing their experience, their competence and also their problems. Persons who communicate at eye-level and who want to participate when it comes to discussing important topics. Persons who want autonomous enlightenment, who dream of honest discourse as professor Habermas used to define it (perhaps persons who are not even aware of him having defined it), all of them thou-ing and thee-ing each other and never interrupting others while they speak. Even if all these factors are true, you still – so is the current state of the art – have to organize this kind of event.

With barcamps, it is very simple. You provide enough lecture halls for the sessions to be held in. A lecture hall has to be big enough for all participants. Inside those lecture halls, you develop the sessions together. Consequently, you have a big board in the middle of the lecture hall. It contains a matrix with the lines marking the time scheduled for the sessions (for instance one line for each hour). The columns mark the lecture halls A, B, C …

Beispiel für eine Sessionplanung bei einem PM-Camp

Example for a session planning at a PM Camp.

And whoever has a problem he feels desperate about will march to the board, pin a card with his topic to the board and makes a room and time reservation for his or her session. Then he introduces himself and gives a short description of what and in which form he wishes to propose the session. And as soon as there are enough cards on the board or when the board is full, you start.

If, on top of this, you also have a nice coffee lounge where food and drinks are always available, success is almost a foregone conclusion. Because there is another rule:

Everybody is free during a barcamp.

Like a bee gathering honey, you can attend as many sessions as possible. On the other hand, you can also float through the rooms like a butterfly (bees and butterflies are the classic metaphors for barcamp behaviour) and remain wherever you feel most comfortable.

As soon as a participant realizes that he is in the wrong session, he should leave it. In a barcamp, this is not impolite. On the contrary, it is your duty if you want the system to work. Consequently, the doors to all lecture halls should be open at all times.

The rule also says: whatever happens is exactly what we wanted to happen. If only a few people attend a session then this is just as good as if all participants attend one session. In the end, there will be a balance.

A new development is that the barcamp organizers try to offer a frame where the sessions can be documented. There is a special barcamp variant, the OpenSpace, where documentation is obligatory and supported, collected and summarized by a so-called OpenSpace-Office.

Party beim PM-Camp in Dornbirn

Party time at the Dornbirn PM-Camp.

Barcamp is this easy. As a general rule, it will be two days. The party at the end of the first day is always a very good thing. During the second day, there are often extremely good spontaneous sessions.

A barcamp is considered a success if all the participants – we also call them share-holders – start their return journey home happy and withe a full heart and spirit.

Even though you should never expect results from a barcamp, surprising things often happen. I know movements and enterprises that grew from an idea during a session. Surprisingly many friendships and beautiful networks are generated. There are always lots of incitements. Barcamps have such a huge impact: they help people to start thinking, judge things differently and become more successful both in private and “professional” or “entrepreneurial” life.

I attended camps such as OpenStartUp or WorkLifeBalance. On those, as well as during five years of PM Camps, I experienced what I described above. PM Camps were about project management, leadership and entrepreneurship. By now, I know that there are more important things. For instance the way how we shape our mobility will be profoundly important for our future. That is why I gladly founded the new barcamp for “Active Motility in Everyday Life” #AktMobCmp .

We will start on January, 4th and 5th, 2016 in Unterhaching.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Werner Lorbeer
Wednesday September 16th, 2015

OECD Survey Disproves District Administrator

geometrie““96 per cent of the students we asked have a computer at home, 72 per cent use this technology at school. In Germany, pupils from upper-class households use the internet more for information gathering than socially disadvantaged young persons. In those social classes, computers are used for watching videos, playing online games or chatting.“

Well, it is not like this comes as a surprise, is it? But it underlines some pedagogic hypotheses, at the same time destroying others. On the picture, you see children in a bi-lingual situation solving a geometry problem. The result is true gain in competence: in mental concentration, problem solving, emphatic listening and once in a while by testing the characteristics of a geometrical object or of a geometric operation. They did not talk very much while they were working. But: it was all in the category “communication” if you love competence-oriented formulation.

Here are the pedagogic hypotheses:

  • – Buying computers for schools will neither improve learning for the pupils, nor bring better success. That is a pity if you were the district administrator from the more prosperous district. It has been disproved.
  • Working with the computer and the networks will not give students the desired competence in the scientific-technological area. This is sour wine for all those who want to sell life in the social networks as a goal of teaching. And for those who want to raise searching processes into the heaven of pedagogics, rather than understanding what you found.
  • The educational standard of children with equal talent will not change through using a computer or software (tendency towards improvement). Instead, the two things that give this chance are industriousness and frustration tolerance.

It would be wise to use the end of technological illusions for truly experience-based learning. You could actually teach the children and adolescents with the actual objects, for instance beekeeping, cooking, gardening, robotics,… ,

I think this would give many people joy..

wl
(Translated by EG)

On August, 18th, 2015, there was an article by Christian Sebald on street construction in the County Munich Section of the SZ:

B 15 maintenance will cost more than twice as much

It said:

“that continuing with the work on the controversial new B 15 will cost more than twice as much as had been anticipated. This can be concluded from a reply by the Federal Traffic Secretary Dorothee Bär (CSU) following a question from the Representative from Landshut Thomas Gambke (Grüne). According to this reply, the nine kilometres between Ergoldsbach in Lower Bavaria and the motorway A 92, will cost around 182 million Euros. Before now, they had estimated 88 million Euros.“

Well, this is more than a hundred per cent increase.

According to the SZ,

“the new B 15 between Regensburg and Rosenheim is one of the most controversial street construction projects in Bavaria. First plans were made in the 1960ies. In those days, it was planned to have 130 kilometres of motorway connecting Regensburg, Landshut and Rosenheim. Later, they modified the project to make it just a Federal Highway.

But with its four lines and two hard shoulders, it is a Federal Highway that looks a lot like a motorway running through the scenery over the 30 kilometres north of Landshut.”

I do not understand why these kinds of projects are still executed. If we invest into streets at all, one would expect the focus to be on the infra-structure we already have.

Our future will not improve by building more streets. The car as a basic means of transportation is becoming obsolete. The structures of our co-existence change. And nor do we, due to the challenges we face in educational and social politics, have the money to build new racing tracks for the die-hard reactionaries. Another reason is the demographic situation – even if today it is mostly the elderly persons you find on the streets with their status symbols. Because this generation will die – and many things will be done in a totally different way by the new generation (at least that is what I hope). I am not even mentioning the climate catastrophe that will also bring quite a bit of change for us.

Neither is the fact that those living close by the streets suffer from the traffic an argument in favour of building new streets. It is easy to come up with plenty of reasons for building streets around something or other! The first thing the communities should do is reduce the “home-made traffic” – which is always a considerable part of the problem, before laying the groundwork for a reduction of the through-traffic.

But let us continue with what it says in the SZ article.

There are several reasons for the cost explosion. First and foremost, the former
estimation is almost ten years old and therefore obsolete. “You have to calculate two to three per cent increase each year”, a speaker of the Autobahndirection Süd, which is responsible for the planning process, says. “This is due to the general inflation”.

This is also something that constantly annoys me. Allegedly, we have no inflation, but for all cost explosions, you give it as a reason.

On the whole, the article is truly worth reading. Just like I am a true fan of the online Süddeutsche Zeitung. As soon as you have access, your login can happen from all places (Android, iPhone, iPad, Windows 8). You no longer have old paper to dispose of and neither do you have to get rid of all the many advertisement before starting to read the SZ.

Consequently, I have no problem doing a bit of advertising for the SZ:

So – if you feel like it, just try it:
Now 14 days free testing under
www.sz.de/apptesten

RMD
(Translated by EG)