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)

Werner Lorbeer
Saturday August 22nd, 2015

Myths About Teaching

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

School as a variable social system.

Current argument in BW! It is – politically tried and tested – about the school system. And it is always also about the teacher/student ratio and inclusion.

What I find rather shocking is that the parties who are arguing do not seem to know anything about the empirical research literature.

It remains to be said that one-on-one teaching or teaching only a few is an art that, as you can read in the research literature of the 18th and 19th centuries, was a total failure.

It is also known that the well-researched autonomous learner will create a strong differentiation in his structural development status. The PISA studies show that the group size is basically determined by the discipline of the learning group but that it does not limit the success.

Jauch’s shows are not a mirror of the current social concepts in our schools. They are characterized by a huge amount of variable social forms, even if this seems to be hardly understood by the educational editing boards. On the picture, you see a routine situation at the Augsburg Holbein Gymnasium: the final stage of a project phase.

However, this does not mean that matters could continue endlessly in this way. Instead, this class, too, is entitled to be taught physics systematically; because knowledge has a structure that has been fought for over many decades. The more gifted a child is, the more successful he or she will be when it comes to transferring said knowledge structure to other problems.

Incidentally, we also know from empirical research that specific teacher talents will also substantially contribute to the learning success. “Success” always has to be understood multi-dimensionally in pedagogical research – social effects, academic effects, impacts on the development of a child’s personality, etc.

Not every teacher has an equal chance when it comes to personality structure. Neither will his effect on students be the same for all pupils. There is numerous “trait-treatment interaction“ research to prove this. In this light, the argument they are having in Baden-Württemberg is superfluous, because the quarrelling parties have no interest whatsoever in promoting the pedagogical practice, let alone pedagogical research.

Here is one last note on the teacher:
If you feel stressed out by children and if you are close to “burnout”, then you should ask yourself if your personality is suitable for “educating”. Children have the daily right to a “friendly, relaxed teacher” (Hefendehl-Hebecker), and they offer the teacher a new start every day.

So tell me where, in the world of grown-ups, you ever get this kind of opportunity!

wl
(Translated by EG)

I am glad to announce that now the video recording of the great presentation by Bruno Gantenbein at the St. Gallen IF Forum of July, 23rd, 2015, is available on youtube and can be watched by all of you:

The presentation ”Learning in Innovation“ held by Bruno Gantenbein at the IF Forum left me deeply impressed. Many of the audience felt the same. But some who also were very impressed by Bruno’s theses came back with the important reply that what he spoke about was not something “normal people” can live in a “normal life” in the “real world”. Because your normal Jim and Jack cannot really manage it. And it simply cannot be done. Once in a while, it sounded really like people were despairing.

To me, it seems the reason is that
“most people cannot really imagine living in another world than the one we are living in“
and that
“we are no longer capable of distinguishing between what is important and what is not important. Consequently, what is unimportant is dominant in our lives.“

To me, this seems to be the major problem both for us and our society. A degree of external control through marketing and lobbyism as we never had it manipulates us in a totally new way. It is totally different from, but certainly no less dangerous than, for instance, religious indoctrination of persons in the Middle Ages or, if we are unlucky, the manipulation as practiced by the Nazis.

The formatting of our lives through a super-powerful but not tangible system took away our autonomy. Now we get nervous and start talking change. Yet we lack all desire to start another life outside our comfort zone. In fact, more often than not, we are not even capable of imagining such a life. For instance, the strength to develop utopias for the future seems to have left us. Looking for values and visions no longer plays a role in our society. In fact, if we do look for visions, it is actually something others are belittling us for. The attempt to re-create a new “social consensus” is smothered in the very first stages. Consequently, we assume that the status quo is true and there is no alternative.

We no longer have the courage for change. We accept our dependence and are happy to be “enslaved”. Be it by technology or as our social concepts of life (our lies of life) determine it. We believe you cannot live without a car, a TV set and electricity all over the place. We believe in the omnipotence of medicine. That the federal administration must and has to guarantee our security and safety. And that the planet will certainly find a way to survive it all.

Except that so many of the things we take for granted can be easily disproved. There is no absolute security. We experience it all the time. The sudden death of an important partner or a surprise illness totally throw us off balance. We can easily fall victim to some mishap.

But then, there are also harmless examples. The stamp collection we inherited
from our grandfather that was so precious, but for which now not even the wastepaper trader is prepared to pay, shows us how difficult it is with security. Many things that used to cost a lot are totally valueless today. I made the same experience when pay day came for my direct insurance. What a discrepancy between the money I received from what I had expected when, decades ago, I first signed the insurance contract. Instead of the imagined free-hold apartment, the only thing I got for it was a medium-size car…

Regardless of all this, the (alleged) security of our modern financial world suggest for some that we actually are in total control of the risk of our material life through retirement money and savings. Except where will the Euro be ten years from now? Will we be able to solve future problems with it? What will money be worth? Have we not learned a long time ago that “you cannot eat” money? Especially if it is just virtual money and perhaps out of the blue will have to be shortened by the occasional digit.

To make up for it, we capitulate for fear of terrorism. And we are prepared to sacrifice our present freedom for these kinds of mind games. Sacrificing freedom for what we believe is an investment in increased future safety! And we are even prepared to start a modern (crusade) war for it.

This is how we follow the stupid and brazen battle cries of politicians and economic leaders who, more often than not, are no longer sane. We swallow pointless laws they serve us with, regardless of the fact that we know those will do more harm than good. And we surrender before the stupidity of our “representatives”. In fact, I actually yearn for a German or European Spring. But I do not mean one triggered by hunger or poverty like the one in Northern Africa – which inevitably dooms it.

Why do we believe them when our politicians tell us that “without the Euro, there would be no Europe” and that the so-called “Grexit” would ruin us all? Why do the politicians tell us such fairy tales? We know as well as the politicians that the Euro is good for those who stand in the light. And it is detrimental for those standing in the shadow. Just as we all know that the exploitation structures, both globally and within Europe and Germany, must fail or cause conflicts, either in the near or not-so-near future.

But we get the impression that we cannot do anything about it and perhaps that is really what happens. Also, we no longer have the courage to oppose the structures of the administrative and economical systems that rule over us. And we no longer stand up against this, even though we know that human beings – which is we! –, and not system interests that have de-personalized and de-humanized themselves, should be the centre of the society, politics and economics. First and foremost, the economy and the state must serve the interests of the people. Just like it is written in the Bavarian Constitution.

The system of the oligarchy of the parties (Oligarchie der Parteien ) – see Jaspers -rules over us and the morals of mercantile metric in economy sharpens the boundary conditions of our behaviour. Thus, the systemic mills will continue to grind, making the restrictive nets of bondage tighter and tighter. It happens in small portions, which means that we often do not even notice it and almost consider it normal.

Consequently, here is what we need to do:

Let us also get back to remembering that we, as “natural beings” are also part of the “natural world”. To be sure, the “cultural world” we created makes some things easier for us, but it also took a lot from us. It made us lazy. And we forgot that the price we are paying is rather high.

As I see it, we should return – and radically so – to thinking about whether, perhaps, we could also live in other worlds and probably even be happier living in other worlds. As you all know, my favourite example is the “away from the car” and turning towards active freedom through “active mobility”. Yet it is just as important to take a close look at the working and living conditions we subjugate ourselves under, be it in social systems such as families or otherwise. We need to question all that seems self-evident and draw conclusions from the answers. Formerly, one would have said: Destroy what destroys you.

Part of this is also to live a “life in harmony with nature” as Seneca formulated it. And he meant more than just the biological nutrition process and the preservation of the environment. He also meant we need to listen to our inner voice.

After all, Seneca was a great teacher who wanted to help his pupils on their way to become successful and happy persons. So let me finish this article with another sentence by Seneca that might perhaps make it a little easier for us to start travelling towards other worlds:

“It is not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It is because we dare not venture that they are difficult”.

Yet – there is hope. What is currently happening on the internet is actually something I rather delight in.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday July 23rd, 2015

Ada Lovelace and Unschooling?

Here is my introduction to the presentation “Learning in Innovation” by Bruno Gantenbein  “Learning in Innovation” as I would like to see it tonight. What I am going to say is meant to connect the person ADA LOVELACE both with the term “unschooling” and with “project management”.

Ada Lovelace 1836, Gemälde von Margaret Sarah Carpenter (1793–1872)

Ada Lovelace 1836,
Painting by Margaret Sarah Carpenter (1793–1872)

ADA LOVELACE was a very controversial lady. As I see it, she must have had a very exciting – both successful and desperate – life. Even reading about her in Wikipedia gave me the following ideas.

If we want to become masters of our profession, we have to exercise the “best practice” of great masters and make use of humanity’s experiences condensed in “design patterns”. Until we reach a dead end – where we have to say good-bye to what we learned. Now you have to rebel and question “things” like “but that is how we always did it”.

Consequently, learning means familiarizing yourself with patterns and sticking by them.

Learning in innovation, however, calls for breaking with patterns. Breaking old patterns and developing new patterns will lead to creative destruction. Thus, living in a social community means you have to not only accept but even use the compromise between your individual needs and the collective rules for your own unfolding.

We love the formatted life, because it is secure and comfortable. We are prepared to subjugate ourselves under morals, because we want to be good.

On the other hand, we crave for freedom and novelty. Because we know that a moralising society will take away our freedom and confine us, at the same time making us look small.

This is the case both in private life and in our work life (if the distinction is still permitted at all). In the social communities of our private lives, we permanently manoeuvre between often paradox positions. And the same is true for our professional lives.

Because the enterprise where we work is also a social system, albeit with an economic purpose. Leadership is communication and communication is, again, a balancing act – between listening and speaking.

I do not know many biographies more laden with the conflict between autonomous self-determination and external control than those of the great mathematicians and Mrs. Ada Lovelace. Spontaneously, the only other person who comes to mind is Nietzsche, who was born a little less than 30 years after ADA LOVELACE.

I think we can only be “good” project leaders, managers and leading personalities if our important projects are a success. To me, it seems like the most important project for all persons are their own lives. If we want to meddle in other people’s lives, the first thing we have to do is make our own life a success.

However, our own life can only be a success if we focus on the really important things and if we change habits detrimental to life. Consequently, I have to be prepared to unfold my own life autonomously and bring order into it. In my personal life, I chose my mobility. I try to avoid unhealthy mobility as far as possible. It is very simple, isn’t it? –

How am I supposed to live a self-determined life if, for example, I cannot even manage to do it with respect to my own mobility? Consequently, I have to change and practice. Instead of letting myself be externally controlled.

Well, this is what I associate with the disrupted life of ADA LOVELACE.

During the presentation by Bruno Gantenbein, I would recommend that you look for parallels with your own life.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Tomorrow’s (July, 23rd, 2015, at 6 p.m.)IF-Forum (guests are still welcome, here is the invitation) in our Unterhaching office building will be about “Learning in Innovation”. Taking the metaphor of “Unschooling”, Bruno Gantenbein will show how children can and want to learn. He will also show parallels between this concept and the experiences made by famous project managers and grown-up leaders.

At InterFace, the year 2015 is dedicated to Ada Lovelace. Consequently, Florian Specht asked me to give an introduction and answer the question:

What is the connection between Ada Lovelace and “unschooling“?

🙂 Here is an introduction I will not present tomorrow. Still, I can publish it here, can’t I? The proper introduction is for you all to hear live tomorrow.

Ada im Alter von 4 Jahren

Ada at the age of four

What is the connection between Ada Lovelace and other persons, such as for instance Galileo Galilei (the InterFace face of 2014), Blaise Pascal, Leonardo da Vinci or “the Ancient Greeks”, such as Archimedes or Socrates – as well as other outstanding personalities in science and “unschooling”?

When preparing for this presentation, the first thing I did was read the Wikipedia article on compulsory school education. We learn that

  • There was a time when it was not compulsory.
  • It was introduced rather late and put to practice even a lot later.
  • There were places where only part of the population was affected, and often only the male part
  • But the learning process was always associated with life and persons, rather than schools.

Then I took a closer look at the life of Ada Lovelace. In Wikipedia, the first sentence you find on “Ada Lovelace“ (article) is:

Augusta Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, commonly known as Ada Lovelace (nee Augusta Ada Byron;[1] * 10th of December 1815 in London; † 27th of November 1852 also in London), was a British Mathematician.”

The article is well worth reading. There is no doubt that she was a genius.
However, all the other persons I named never really seem to have attended any school:

Blaise Pascal (* 19th of June 1623 in Clermont-Ferrand; † 19th of August 1662 in Paris) was a  French Mathematician, Physicist and Literary person, as well as a christian Philosopher.

Galileo Galilei (* 15th of February 1564 in Pisa; † 29th of December 1641jul./8th of January 1642greg. in Arcetri near Florence) was an Italian philosopher, mathematician and astronomer whose discoveries in several fields of natural science  were breakthroughs.

Well, this is hardly a surprise, because when the last two lived, such a thing as schools in the modern sense did not exist.

When I was a child, I used to adore the “ancient Greeks”. Imagine what enormous and revolutionary discoveries they made with the most primitive means and a little calculation. Some of them were due only to observation, thinking and simple experiments. And, surprise, surprise: in those days, they did not have a formal school system as we have it today.

Consequently, the suspicion inside me grows that quite a few innovations would not have been possible during the history of mankind if humans in those days had been indoctrinated from early on as it is common in a normal school today.

But the light inside me was really turned on when I saw the film “Alphabet”.ALPHABET, the film was produced by Erwin Wagenhofer in 2013. After WE FEED THE WORLD and LETS MAKE MONEY, ALPHABET was the last and final part of his famous trilogy. ALPHABET is a film that describes in a very soft way what situation the children world-wide are in during their education.

I particularly liked one citation in the film. It seems to be the result of scientific research:

98 % of all babies are born as a genius. After their education, the ratio is 2 %.

The only question that remains is how Mrs. Lovelace could preserve her genius. After all, 200 years ago we already had the first stages of compulsory school education. Maybe it was because in those days there were some regions where only boys went to school? Boys who always had to be brave and never were allowed to cry?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Now I need to do a little more work on my introduction (version 2.0). Incidentally, I took the picture from Wikipedia.