Deciding on a location to operate iLearn – in the REAL world, as a learning centre has been a tough decision.
I have a large rumpus room at home which is a very cost effective option and have found a building in a great location close to residential and commercial businesses. Short term I am only interested in the front section which has a large carpeted room and an entrance foyer with office, kitchen and toilets. Long term I have big plans for the whole building. I have asked for a lease cost on the front section and if it is reasonable I look like going with that option.
Over the last month I have also met some wonderful people both locally and online who are very interested in my work and we are exploring the possibility of working together collaboratively to help each other.
- Local mentors and business owners
- Video shop owner in a town nearby who pioneered his own internet company in Silicon Valley
- Melbourne educator and technology whiz also setting up his own learning program
- Gippsland writer and educator keen to pass on the love of writing to young people
- Melbourne maths whiz with his own maths learning centre
- A number of educators and innovative learners around Australia and internationally keen to support and mentor young people
I am in the process of getting all my learning systems documented and then put together the promotional materials and then hit the media to recruit students for my full time, face to face program and an online version for students in other towns.
Recently I have been reminded on Gandhi’s saying: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.
Rather than attempt to provoke change in the education system or advocating for change on the outside I think the best approach for me is to BE who I am called to be, provide the gift of learning to young people and leave the rest to God.
My new learning program has a name and direction.
My son Tim even helped design an image for the logo.
I have organised an ABN, developing a website with the help of a friend and will be developing the prototype and main features of the program.
I now have 5 students who are doing the audition process to see if they have what it takes to do the program.
My new beginning is taking the courage to step away from the familiar and to risk failure. I often find myself watching stuff and putting off what I should be doing. I feel a resistance against making a start, making decisions, forming systems and developing a prototype. Seth Godin explains it thus: “Learning how to make things turns you from a spectator into a participant, from someone at the mercy of the system to someone who is helping to run the system. Learning how to make gives you the guts to make more, to fail more often, to get better at making…The spectators are the ones who paid to watch, but it’s the players on the field who are truly alive.”
When I started writing up my ideas for next year and making decisions I started to feel really good. Resistance was being put behind me and I started to break through the passive state that was holding me back. I was alive and moving forward.
I can see that this passivity easily besets my students who delight in watching YouTube videos and reading all the Facebook statuses from their friends. They are locked up in the safety zone of being a spectator. Boredom put aside for a moment.
I know what it is like to be busy but not productive. The internet is a candy store for the eyes. A trap that can only be avoided by doing the work. Doing to learn and learning to do.
I resigned last week from UnitingCare Cutting Edge and leaving the program I brought into being 18 months ago – Big Picture: UnReal! Learning. It was a huge decision and not one that was hastily made. It was six months in coming.
During that time I was struggling with my health and well-being and was constantly tired and stressed. I was diagnosed with sleep apnoea and that explained my tiredness and the treatment did not bring a quick fix. The new CPAP machine (nicknamed Martha) gave me the odd day where I was alive and able to cope with the pressures but these were few and far between.
This made it progressively more difficult to cope with the pressures of working with young people and the impositions of red tape and bureaucracy which made the work even harder. It meant our focus was often on paper trails and policy rather than the work of engaging and supporting our young people.
After a good holiday and time to rest and recuperate, and hopefully good night sleeps with the help of Martha I plan on running my own youth engagement program as a private enterprise starting with a small cohort of young people I know. My role will be more like a learning coach using the Big Picture principles of personalisation, real world learning and mentoring.
There are no guarantees of success but I know that there is a real need for such a service in the community and just have to find a way for it to generate an income to put food on the table.
I have been encouraged by the work of Seth Godin and his manifesto Stop Stealing Dreams (what is school for?) and his encouragement to DO art, be a linchpin and ship (ship the product and make a difference).
The decision has been made and time for the work to begin…after a short holiday!