Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Developing 21st Century Skills through Multimedia

Last week I had a long meeting with our R&D Coordinator, Scot Hoffman, as we are putting together a Multimedia Project Guide and Planner for Teachers.  Although we initially started talking about Bloom's Taxonomy and how our aim is to help teachers plan multimedia projects that will facilitate higher level thinking in students, we quickly moved away from that and started to talk about the 21st century skills identified by ASB as being critical for our students' futures.  These are:

  • creativity and innovation
  • critical thinking
  • information fluency
  • collaboration
  • communication
  • managing complexity
  • multicultural literacy
At the same time we wanted to incorporate the work that Bernajean Porter has been doing with our teachers and students about rigor and craftsmanship.  As teachers work through the planner we want them to consider the learning goals so that students make meaning before they make media.  We want teachers to consider the type of communication that will be most effective for students having a desired impact on their audience.  We then want teachers to consider jointly with students the mode of communication that allows the chosen media to best work together and tools that they can use to create their product.  All of this has to happen before production and publishing.

As we were dissatisfied with using a graphic of Bloom's Taxonomy when we feel we have already moved way beyond this, I have started to create a new graphic that will combine our 21st century skills with the process we want students to go through when creating multimedia.  I'm posting this graphic below and would love feedback from anyone who is also trying to help teachers plan for developing both the multimedia craftsmanship skills and 21st century skills in students.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Putting your best (digital) foot (print) forward

I guess I'm a glutton for punishment!  Despite the fact that I am currently doing an online course AND facilitating an online course, I decided today that I will take a MOOC too.  Having read Jason Ohler's book Digital Community, Digital Citizen last year, and having taken a workshop with Jason at Munich International School around 3-4 years ago, I was keen to check out Jason's Digital Citizenship MOOC from the University of Alaska.  This MOOC allows members of the public to freely access the resources of the Educational Technology Masters Program.  Today, having read through the first 3 weeks of course material, I decided to jump ahead a little to week 4 on digital footprints.  I've thought a lot about this recently as I've been revamping our Digital Citizenship wiki and discussing how to teach this with our elementary teachers.  I was therefore interested to read the following:
It is impossible to hide on the web these days. This fact has forced all of us to play the game of identity management on the Internet .... The closest thing to winning this game is to ensure our most prominent work on the web is also our best work .... in fact we want to embrace being searchable by putting our best digital footprints forward.
One of the resources shared was the video below.  This video would make a great resource to use with students when discussing how a digital footprint is formed and how it follows us through life - and even death.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Learning and knowing

What is the connection between learning and knowing?  George Siemens refers to learning as "the moment we acquire the knowledge that is missing in order for us to complete the needed task or solve a problem."  In PYP schools we talk about constructing knowledge, but Siemens points out that we do not always construct, though we do always connect things in our minds.  He writes that learning is:
  • Chaotic and messy
  • Continual - often just in time
  • Co-created instead of simply passively acquiring knowledge
  • Complex - learning changes as one element changes
  • Connecting specializations - complexity and diversity result in specialisms, but the growth of knowledge and learning involves connecting all the specialized areas
  • Continually suspending certainty - being able to live with uncertainty or being certain for the short rather than the long-term.
I was interested to read about internal and external learning networks.  For example connecting information and building understanding in our brains is internal, but the networks we create to stay current and to acquire and connect new knowledge is external.  It's important for us to be connected learners as this leads us to constantly encounter new information and knowledge.

As a technology teacher, and one who is passionate about how technology can transform learning, I'm really interested to read about connectivism, the theory of how learning happens in a digital age.  In an era when the amount of information and the rate of its growth is often overwhelming, new knowledge is being acquired all the time.  We are constantly have to make decisions and filter out the important from the unimportant, and to recognize when new knowledge is going to lead to a fundamental shift in what we do or think.  Siemens states that "learning is enabled/facilitated by technology" but at the same time our capacity to know more is still more critical than what we currently know.  It's important to be able to see connections and to recognize patterns and to know where to go and who to go to when learning.  Siemens writes "An information rich world requires the ability to ... stay connected and informed as information changes ... Network creation enables learners to continue to stay current in the face of rapidly developing knowledge."  Once again I'm thinking of my connections on Twitter.

I'm interested in how we cope when the flow of information or the creation of new knowledge happens too fast.  One of the advantages of having a PLN and using a micro-blog such as Twitter to connect to the network is that instead of having to read and process and evaluate every piece of new information, I can connect to people who have already done that and who will then pass this knowledge and their perspectives on to me (as indeed I hope I am further thinking about it and then passing it on again to others).  I feel that Twitter has certainly helped me as a learner, and while it has increased the amount of new ideas I'm exposed to, it has also synthesized these new ideas too so that I can see them both side by side and building on each other.   Now I'm much less certain than ever before about what I actually know, but what I am certain of is that I am a better learner.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Knowledge: product -v- process

I'm reading George Siemens' Knowing Knowledge very slowly as there is a lot to take in and think about.  There are a couple of questions that I'm thinking about today:
  • Is knowledge acquired or created with others through active participation?
  • Is knowledge a personal activity or is it socially constructed?
I'm now thinking about the connection between learning and knowing, and have come across the word connectivism which asserts that learning is a network-forming process.  The success of these networks in encouraging knowledge varies depending on a variety of things:  
  • Diversity - how wide the points of view spectrum is
  • Autonomy - whether those contributing to the network do so of their own accord and share their own knowledge or whether there is pressure to promote a certain point of view
  • Interactivity - whether the members are co-constructing knowledge or simply sharing their perspectives
  • Openness - how easy it is for a perspective to enter into the network, be heard and interacted with by others.
When considering these 4 factors I started to think about my PLN network on Twitter.  Since I am choosing the people I want to follow I would imagine that it is not very diverse (mostly I am following educators, the diversity comes from different types of educators and their experiences in many different educational systems) and there is definitely a danger it could turn into an echo-chamber.  To the best of my knowledge all are sharing their ideas voluntarily.  I've not come across teachers who are forced to present a certain point of view, but have definitely known those who are pressurized not to write about certain ideas and who have been reprimanded for "disloyally" questioning things online in chats that are actually common place at their schools (for example in areas such as homework, professional development, communication issues and so on).  When I consider my Twitter network I think it is mostly sharing of information and perspectives.  I'm not sure it is such as easy platform for the co-construction of knowledge.  When I'm working with others to construct something I'm much more likely to use a wiki or a Google Doc.  Finally Twitter is very open, but being a part of a network depends on who you follow and who chooses to follow you.  When using TweetDeck I have separate groups in different columns and like the way that hashtags allow me to interact with those who are not already in my network.

Another thing I'm thinking about today is the difference between hard and soft knowledge.  Hard knowledge occurs in areas where change is slow and needs expert validation before acceptance by the public.  I used to work for Elsevier, the biomedical publishers, and for sure everything that appeared in their journals was hard knowledge that had been subjected to critical peer review before publication.  However it has been a long time since I worked there - about 25 years - and during that time there has been a huge shift from hard to soft knowledge as technology has developed, allowing anyone to publish or to have access to experts.  Now, for example, you are likely to see something first on Twitter and then later on the BBC website and then even later in a printed newspaper.  In an era of soft knowledge, things are often changed or replaced before they have time to become hard (think for example about how Wikipedia is constantly being revised).  Knowledge can be created by experts or by the masses and can be disseminated by one-way channels such as books or by a two-way flow such as on blogs, and as such is changing from being a product into a process.

This brings me onto the next thing:  what we do with knowledge.  Here's an interesting statement from George Siemens:  "We do not live our lives in active cognition.  We spend much of our time in containers that we have created.  Instead of thinking, we are merely sorting and filtering."  I'm interested in this because of things I've read in the past about how we learn - that it involves attaching something new onto something that we already know - this is done by our brains automatically and without actually doing much deep thinking.  So now I'm left pondering this quote:
We can no longer rely on categorization to meet our needs in a rapidly evolving, global knowledge climate.  We must rely on network-formation and development of knowledge ecologies.  We must become different people with different habits.
How do we need to change and what new habits do we need to form as we move from viewing knowledge as a product to viewing it as a process?  This is what I'm hoping to find out as I read on in Knowing Knowledge.

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Theories of Knowledge

The mission statement of the IB states that it aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people and goes on to define knowledgeable as one of the attributes of the IB Learner Profile in the following way:
They explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance. In so doing, they acquire in-depth knowledge and develop understanding across a broad and balanced range of disciplines.
Yesterday I was having a great chat with Scot Hoffman, our R&D Coordinator at ASB, and he asked me if I knew the book Knowing Knowledge by George Siemens.  When I said no, he went and got a copy for me, and this morning I've started on the first chapter.  I really like the idea of a knowledge flow cycle which emphasizes the social aspects of knowledge.  It starts with knowledge creation and then moves through different stages such as co-creation by building on the work of others which in turn leads to innovation and the rapid development of ideas and concepts. Following the creation of knowledge comes the dissemination of knowledge and communication of ideas, followed by personalization.  I really identify with this stage as it is our way of internalizing the knowledge through dialogue with others and reflection.  Finally there is implementation which involves action.  Siemens writes that "our understanding of a concept changes when we are acting on it, versus only theorizing or learning about it."  Yes!

I've also been thinking about a discussion I was involved in some time ago about the next thing to become obsolete.  One of the things we discussed was the idea of copyright and plagiarism.  This sort of fits in with what I was reading this morning.  If knowledge is socially constructed and follows a knowledge flow cycle, then everyone's ideas are building on each others as we construct knowledge together.   Why would we want to "own" the knowledge when by sharing it we can make it deeper?  Most of the time our knowledge is not coming from just one source - we read a bit here and another bit there and come to a new understanding by personalizing it ourselves.  Sometimes it's hard to give credit to an original idea that has gone through so many different iterations.  Siemens refers to this too:
We do not consume knowledge as a passive entity that remains unchanged as it moves through out world and our work.  We dance and court the knowledge of others - n ways the original creators did not intend.  We make it ours, and in so doing diminish the prominence of the originator.
In Chapter 1 there is also a list of the different types of knowledge - something I'd never really thought about before.  There is:

  • Knowing about something - for example an event you witnessed, or a discipline you have studied
  • Knowing how to do something - for example driving a car
  • Knowing how to be something - a teacher, a doctor, an ethical person and so on
  • Knowing where to find knowledge when needed
  • Knowing how to transform knowledge - by recombining it and innovating.
Knowledge is not simply being able to access a mass of facts, stored in your brain like water in a lake, it's more like a river, constantly moving and getting larger as it joins with other rivers and flows towards the sea.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Thinkers -v- Test Takers

When I worked in Amsterdam I was part of a 6 year project with teachers from other European countries that started off collecting and recording data about butterflies and ended up looking at our own pedagogy.  We asked ourselves how do we pass on our craft - how do we teach others how to teach?  In most countries we followed a similar path - we did a degree in a particular subject and then learned some methods for delivering this content to students.  The emphasis was on passing on the important facts and understanding - and as such it was all about teaching and not really much about learning.

Assessment also often focuses on the teaching.  Friends in the UK have talked to me about standardized tests and league tables - and the implication is that if your students are doing poorly on these tests that you are a poor teacher and haven't passed on enough content in a way that students can remember it. Teachers, in fact, are often judged on how well students absorb and regurgitate content.  How often have I heard people comment that someone is a good teacher because his or her students always get top marks in examinations!  In Making Thinking Visible this is described as an education system that is "more concerned with producing effective test takers than successful learners".

We know, however, that we need to take the focus off the teacher and place it on the learner - to take it off the specific facts and to focus it onto the ideas and concepts.  This is one of the reasons why I love teaching the PYP as it emphasizes the big, central ideas and asks the question "how best will we learn?" which is about making the curriculum more engaging and accessible.  With an emphasis on approaches to learning and constuctivism, students also learn how to learn as they are not simply taking in information but are actively involved in thinking and making sense of the world.

Rather than teachers simply imparting information, the role of teachers should be to act as models.  Our students need to see us thinking and learning too so that they can learn how we do it.  In Making Thinking Visible it is very clear that "education is much more than the delivery of content.  A quality education is also about the development of the habits of mind and thinking dispositions that will serve students as learners both in our own classrooms and in the future".

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Creating Understanding - Beyond Bloom

This weekend I was leading a Making the PYP Happen workshop at my school for our new staff.  In designing the engagements for this workshop I drew heavily on the Visible Thinking routines of Harvard Project Zero.  A number of years ago, when I was working at the International School of Amsterdam, I was lucky enough not only to attend the PZ summer institute, but also to be part of a year long cohort working with Mark Church (who was at that time a middle school teacher at ISA) about teaching for understanding.  Following this ISA embraced the visible thinking routines and Ron Ritchhart visited the school many times to help get this started.  Ron and Mark, along with Karin Morrison, have now brought out a book called Making Thinking Visible which I have been reading.

I'm really interested in the section entitled Beyond Bloom in Chapter 1 as it discusses Bloom's Taxonomy, both the original and the revised one, and whether understanding is really lower-order thinking.  Last year when we did the Tech Audit at ASB we categorized the student artifacts that teachers provided using Bloom's Digital Taxonomy and looked at the ratio of lower to higher order thinking that each artifact contained.  Having read, and discussed and now re-read the chapter in Making Thinking Visible, it has started to change the way I think about Bloom's Taxonomy and whether these learning objectives are sequential or hierarchical.

The example given is that a child painting may actually come to a knowledge and understanding of painting through working in application mode (actually painting - creating something, trying things out, analyzing what happens when paints mix to make new colours, evaluating the results of such mixing and so on).  The authors also point out that "looking carefully to notice and fully describe what one sees can be an extremely complex and engaging task.  Such close observation is at the heart of both science and art."

If we wish to hang onto a hierarchy of thinking, maybe this has to be done within the thinking itself - for example you can describe at a superficial level or a deep one, you can test something to see if it will fail, or you can test the limits of something and work out what will lead to failure.  Thinking often isn't sequential - it's messier, complex, dynamic and interconnected.  The question asked is that if understanding is put forward as a goal of teaching (eg: Understanding by Design) then that understanding can be created using high level thinking in an active and constructive process.  The research at Project Zero indicates that understanding is not a precursor to application, analysis, evaluating and creating - but is the result of it.  It is "not a type of thinking at all but an outcome of thinking."

The same can be true of creating:
It is not necessarily a single direct act but a compilation of activities and associated thinking.  Decisions are made and problems are solved as part of this process.  Ideas are tested, results analyzed, prior learning brought to bear, and ideas synthesized into something that is nobel, at least for the creator.  This creation can be simplistic in nature, as with a child creating a new color; useful, as in the invention of a new iPhone app; or profound, such as new methods for producing energy from never before used materials.
As we collect artifacts and analyse them during this year's Tech Audit, I want to keep these ideas in mind.  Perhaps we shouldn't be looking at the final product or artifact as an example of higher order thinking, but should look more at the process that has happened along the way.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A feeling of well-being

I live in India, a country with a vast gap between rich and poor.  In fact just a stone's throw from my apartment block is a village (sometimes referred to as a slum) where huge numbers of people are obviously very poor.  One thing I've been amazed to discover there is that people who live in poverty or challenging environments are just as likely to report high levels of happiness that differ little from those living in affluent surroundings.  Apparently, of all the factors that contribute to our happiness, our personal circumstances (health, wealth and status) only contribute about 10% to our feeling of well-being.  So what is the major factor determining happiness?

Recently I did a Strengths Finder survey from the Gallup Organization.  Other surveys they have done including health, wealth, relationships, jobs, communities and so on among more than 150 countries have shown the following factors are essential to happiness:

  • Career - liking what you do every day
  • Social - strong relationships and love in your life
  • Financial - managing your economic life
  • Physical - health and energy
  • Community - engagement with where you live
Now here is the interesting fact:  Gallup has found that 66% of respondents are doing well in at least one of these areas, yet only 7% are doing well in all five.  While Gallup concludes that deep happiness and well-being results from a balance across each of these areas, the most important factor of the five is career.  Apparently only 20% of respondents when asked "Do you like what you do every day?" respond positively!  The study shows that if you do not enjoy what you do every day, that your chances of feeling happy in the other four areas also declines.  People who are happy in their career are more than twice as likely to feel happy in their lives overall.  

There's some good news here though.  40% of what affects your level of happiness is what you choose to do and how you choose to think and feel.  Attitude can be everything!

Statistics taken from Finding your Element by Sir Ken Robinson
Photo taken by my daughter Rachel

Challenges and opportunities of globalization

Over the Christmas/New Year period I was in the UK, and one of the main news stories there was what would happen when the borders opened on 1st January to economic migrants from the new EU countries of Bulgaria and Romania.  I remember similar discussions happening years ago when it was predicted that millions of Poles would move to the UK for work, "stealing" jobs from the British by undercutting wages.  My actual experience of that was very mixed.  While I did notice more Polish books in the local library, jobs being posted in Polish in the local job centre and announcements being made on the Easyjet flights to Warsaw now being made in Polish first, in general I think the economy was stimulated.  There were more people - so more demand for goods and services.  And many Polish workers came to the UK to do jobs that British people didn't want to do - such as harvesting or hospital cleaning - and they worked for minimum wages which for sure kept the prices of food and services low and therefore more affordable.

I'm preparing for an in-school PYP workshop this coming weekend, and I had the opportunity to search for a more up-to-date video of The Miniature Earth.  I was curious to see just how the statistics had changed since I last led a workshop for the PYP a couple of years ago.  At the same time I went onto the OCC and downloaded George Walkers's paper from 2011 about the past, present and future faces of international education.  In preparing for the workshop session on international mindedness, I thought it would be good to consider both the opportunities and the challenges of globalization, and whether international schools and international mindedness can really make a difference.  George identified 4 major challenges:  diversity, complexity, sustainability and inequality.

Diversity:  George points out that the impact of migration is that there is "no longer much of a fit between national frontiers, language and culture".  While international schools often embrace diversity, many countries are becoming increasingly xenophobic.  When I lived in Switzerland, for example, there was alarm in some sections of the population about being swamped by migrants.  Red, black and white coloured posters appeared showing boots marching into Switzerland and while I was there I was sad to see that the building of minarets was banned following a referendum.  George Walker, however, points out that professionals often welcome immigration - economists are happy because migrant labour is the backbone of many economies, scientists point to a diverse gene pool leading to a healthier population and artists point out the cultural enrichment of a diverse population.  Immigration to these people is seen more as an opportunity than a challenge.

Complexity: Having lived in 2 Asian countries as well as 4 European countries I can certainly attest to the fact that there are differences in Eastern and Western outlooks and personalities.  I agree that the international school focus on critical thinking, flexibility, compromise and understanding can help to bridge the gap between the two different cultures.  My own children benefitted enormously from spending their formative teenage years in Asia - I truly believe the different perspectives they encountered made them the people that they are today.

Sustainability:  This is a huge global issue and covers many topics such as the destruction of habitats, the depletion of non-renewable resources, pollution and waste disposal.  Inquiry and the scrutiny of scientific evidence is studied in all 3 IB programmes.  Understanding such complex issues - and from multiple perspectives - can surely only increase the chances of finding solutions.

Inequality:  We are told that the gap between and within countries is growing wider every year.  This was certainly borne out by the new statistics in the Miniature Earth video (embedded below).  George Walker points out that "according to the IB mission statement, its programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate, lifelong learners.  This statement brings together knowledge, concern and action."

Some years ago I read the book Five Minds for the Future by Howard Gardner.  You can find some of my reflections on this book on my blog here.  Gardner writes about how the future world will need disciplined minds, synthesizing minds, creative minds, respectful minds and ethical minds.  It is the aim of the IB programmes to provide a balance between disciplinary and transdisciplinary learning, the development of critical thinking skills, intercultural understanding and ethical values.

Other blog posts about Howard Gardner's Five Minds:

The Disciplined Mind - STEM, STEAM and SHAM
The Respectful Mind - Respect, Motivate, Achieve
The Ethical Mind - Ethical Education

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Future Forwards

I'm pleased to be able to share with you ASB's new eBook entitled Future Forwards:  Exploring the Frontiers in Education at the American School of Bombay.  This book is a collection of thoughts, hypotheses, discussions, and reflections on practices, research and ideas that are relevant to emerging new paradigms of teaching and learning.  This is the first volume of Future Forwards, the second volume will be coming out in the Spring.

Inside Volume 1 of Future Forwards you will find three sections:

Paradigms - “Looking to the Future”
These chapters deal with paradigm shifts - different approaches that radically challenge established conventions about traditional subjects.   Here you will read about leading innovation, multi-age classrooms and designing a balanced school calendar.

Ideas - "The Next Step"
This section examines how current research is changing or impacting existing practices or established norms. Here you will find chapters about the maker movement, social entrepreneurship, action research and the International Research Collaborative (IRC) that ASB has established with other leading schools. The IRC is currently examining and evaluating 1:1 computing.

Practices - "Innovating in the Now"
These chapters describe the application of an instructional practice in a completely novel way or the successful mash-up of different practices. In this section you will read about our Day 9 initiatives, Project Based Learning and ASB's Intersessions.

The eBook is completely free - enjoy and please consider sharing it with others in your professional network.

Click here to read Volume 1 of Future Forwards

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Doing what you love: concern -v- control

Happy New Year and welcome back!  I've just spent 10 days away and not blogging - now it feels good to be back in India again doing the job I love.  Just before leaving Mumbai for the Christmas holidays I was reading Sir Ken Robinson's book Finding Your Element in which he writes that being in your Element is not only about doing something you're good at, but also that it has to be something you love.  He writes:
If you're doing something you love, by the end of the day you may be physically tired but spiritually energized.  If you spend the day doing things you don't care for, you may be physically fine but feel spiritually low ... passion is about what feeds your spiritual energy rather than consumes it.
When I read this section I felt that Sir Ken was spot on!  I'm in a job that is extremely demanding, yet I find it energizing.  When considering why I love my current job, I was brought back again to Dan Pink's statements about autonomy, mastery and purpose.  Some years ago, over a long weekend, I drove with some colleagues to Munich International School for a workshop being run by Dan Pink and Jason Ohler.  I found it inspirational because after this I started to question what motivated me - which then led me to question what I found unsatisfying about the job I was actually doing.  I discovered that it was very important for me to be self-directed and that being overly managed led to me feeling disengaged.  I also came to realize that what I needed was to have a purpose and feel like I was making a difference.  Since both of these things did not exist in my previous job, it was really only a matter of time before I was going to move on, however one of the best things I did in my last year at the school was to get involved in a professional reading group that discussed Alfie Kohn's book Punished by Rewards, which also dealt with motivation.  In this book Kohn questioned why people become burnt out and bitter and the conclusion he came to was that it was nothing to do with how much work they do, but because of a feeling of powerlessness:  lacking the freedom to decide what to do and how to do it, and lacking a sense of control over one's own work and ideas, which is a real killer to creativity.

In my current job, one of the things I love is being part of the R&D Core Team, as well as working on several R&D task forces, which are effecting positive changes throughout ASB.  When I think about all the initiatives that teachers are involved in, all the changes they are making as educators, it's amazing to me that their level of stress seems very low compared to other places where I have worked.  This is probably because of the culture of being involved, of actually participating in the decision making, which as Kohn notes has a positive effect on both productivity and job satisfaction.

Over the holidays I did read a huge number of blog posts (it was great to have the time to catch up!) and one that caught my attention this week was by Doug Belshaw writing about influence and attention.  At my old school when I was feeling depressed about how little I seemed to be able to accomplish, I was given good advice by a friend which was to concentrate on the things that it was possible to control - and to change the things that it was possible to change.  For example an individual teacher may not have any control over what is taught, but s/he can certainly control how it is taught. In his blog post, Doug used the diagram below about the Circle of Concern vs the Circle of Control.  Clicking on the link to the blog post he refers to by James Clear, it seems that this diagram is based on Stephen Covey's work on influential people.

James Clear writes: "Notice that by eliminating or reducing your Circle of Concern, you have more time and energy to put towards your Circle of Control.  That means you have more mental space to use for creating art, starting a business, having meaningful conversations, or otherwise contributing to the world around you."

I've started to think about how much of my attention is spent on things I can't control and whether I can reduce this even more.  Since I don't have a TV and don't often read magazines I know almost nothing about celebrities - in fact I'd be hard pushed to recognize many of these in photos as I just don't care at all about their lives.  I read the news online which means I choose which areas of the world I want to focus on and which stories I want to read.  I usually look at the UK headlines, though rarely read the stories, and also look at the European and Asian pages on the BBC.  I don't think much about wars or about the weather or care much about what people think of me.  I would say that over the past couple of years I have come to spend much more of my time in my Circle of Control, which has made me a more productive person.   I have chosen what work to do, where to work and where to live.  I feel in control of my own professional growth, taking MOOCs and online courses that interest me, without any intention of having them add up into any sort of qualification, and interacting with educators around the world whose ideas and experiences I find interesting.  I read and blog about the things that I'm thinking about, and I have the time to think and to read and to write simply because I am spending most of my attention on the things that I can control.   Hopefully these past 18 months have seen me change from a reactive person into a much more proactive one - spending more time doing the things that I love.

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