“Optimism of the action, is better than the pessimism of the thought” Greenpeace
Engrained in our work is the belief we need to embrace failure and accept risk as part of the every day. This mind-set can only be actioned from a position of strength and confidence. We must believe in the risk before we take it. Failure is then accepted as ‘worth it’ and something to be learned from. Preaching this message in a CPD session with teachers or in front of 30 P4’s is easy for me. As a practitioner I know I have to put myself in situations that scare me and expose my vulnerability. This belief has contributed to the decision made by myself and partner to leave Scotland for two months to live and work in a small town in Chile called Frutillar.
My current fears have fragmented into two interlinked sections: family and work.
Our son, my step-son, has complex needs: he requires a wheelchair, is prone to seizures and his ASD causes anxiety and distress. Sometimes the most basic tasks can become tectonic in nature. Our first volcanic task is a 24hr, 3 flight, trip to our destination with a boy who doesn’t like change. We have laughed it off ‘if it’s difficult here it might as well be difficult in Chile!!’ The Optimism of the action, is better than the pessimism of the thought. Greenpeace
When faced with difficultly that contains a huge amount of risk and uncertainty what allows us to move forward? What makes us believe we are ‘doing the right thing?’ Maybe it’s the belief that there isn’t a right thing – only movement forward. To stop and settled is the biggest failure. To do nothing means we resist learning. Seeing the path as too difficult means we experience nothing. So we accept the challenge and order a large red in the departure lounge.
My second fear is the work I will undertake when there. I will take up residency in a small school in the town of Frutillar that sits beside a crisp blue lake. From the school you can see Volcano Osorno, a glacier capped beast that carries obvious metaphors for the challenges ahead. Hidden Giants has developed an approach to working with schools. Our philosophy is built around disruptive thinking, unthinking the fixed, and bespoke partnerships. This means we have no ‘off-the-peg’ projects but instead connect to what we find and build from the middle.
We have a network of creative partnership schools in Scotland that share our philosophy and approach to curriculum design. These schools are inspiring and bold but still carry road blocks and passport controls. Educational change is not an easy thing – even when we speak the same language. In Chile all I’ll have is my Glaswegian accent and belief in the process. The Chilean education system seems very similar to others around the world: crowded curriculum, over-worked teachers, little room for creativity, entrenched traditional practices and the burden of assessment. Does the Hidden Giants approach work in an international context and, if so, what learning can I bring back to Scotland?
My gran always said ‘you should practice what you preach’. I’m/we’re about to walk through the ring of fire and I can’t wait to get my fingers burned along the way.