Friday, 18 May 2007

(a guide for Global Leadership)

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pit at school.These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don't hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don't take things that aren't yours.
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm biscuits and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living. Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world - had biscuits and milk at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess. And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Robert Fulghum.
I have had a really bad week...

Still, I think the one thing that the Lou Tice session really reinforced was about next week being better, about setting goals to improve and doing things to ensure that we all learn and grow and develop from our experiences.

Thanks to everyone who has helped me manage this week and especially those who have helped me to see the positives and to learn from my mistakes.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

I spent a lot of the day with Lou Tice at the Royal Armouries. It is amazing that Lou Tice can simply talk and tell his stories for two hours at a time. ...

The group in the morning was a mixture of colleagues who have completed Investment in Excellence or STEPS, those new to the programmes and a group of traveller parents from the Cottingley Traveller Site.... who were fantastic! The afternoon group was made up of colleagues who have been through the programmes and needed a refresher.

Although I was somewhat disappointed with the day and the attendance, I always learn something when I am with Lou and this time I learned that it is important to commit to 'always being a better person tomorrow than I am today' and to 'set goals to achieve your dreams'. As Lou always says
"Set the goal and invent the way.
Set the goal and make it happen."

I would welcome knowing what colleagues who attended the sessions learned and what you took away from meeting the great man? Was it a session well spent? Could it have been better?
Frank Zappa said that "it is better to have something to remember than nothing to regret". Sadly today I must write the saddest lines...

I heard yesterday that my colleague Keith Jackson has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Kieth has been unwell and fighting the cancer for sometime but this is devastating news for all of us here at Education Leeds. Kieth was an inspiration... he was totally committed to the Investment in Excellence approach which had changed his life through his passionate belief, his total commitment and he touched so many of us through his example.

I personally want to wish a colleague, a companion and a friend our thoughts and best wishes at this very difficult time for him and his family.
My colleague Gary Nixon sent me this after reading the message on InfoBase this week...

The message contained a quote...
"The mediocre teacher tells.
The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires."
William Arthur Ward
Gary told me... "Chris, I know of one such teacher at Grimes Dyke Primary School. His name is Richard Hancock and he teaches the Year 2 class. He has transformed learning opportunities for his class. As you know Grimes Dyke has been placed in Special Measures and the stress of that has taken its toll. Richard was wanting to leave not because of the teaching and his commitment to the school but because of the associated 'nonsense' relating to Special Measures. He has now decided to stay on - which is excellent news for the children and the school. Interestingly he is getting fantastic results in the school and the rate of children's' learning in his class makes him a teacher who is great."
There are so many talented, amazing and simply great teachers here in Leeds and it is fantastic to hear from Gary about one of them!
I spent the evening with Lou Tice...

Lou Tice is the co-founder of The Pacific Institute, an organisation specializing in performance improvement and professional growth, change management and leadership development. The guiding principle of The Pacific Institute is that individuals, during their lifetime, have a virtually unlimited capacity for growth, change and creativity.

Here in Leeds, for the last six years, we have used The Pacific Institute programmes, Investment in Excellence, STEPS and Go for It, to teach colleagues, parents and young people how to develop and accelerate their unique individual potential by changing habits, attitudes, beliefs and expectations. This, in turn, has allowed colleagues, parents and carers and young people, Education Leeds, schools and families to achieve higher levels of growth and success.

The Pacific Institute programmes focus on how the mind works, goal-setting, developing self-efficacy and unlocking potential. The Pacific Institute's work draws on, and is supported by, the work of leading researchers in the domains of cognitive psychology, leadership and culture change.

I hope to see many of you, today now, at the Royal Armouries where Lou will talk about the basis of the programmes and help us understand how we can develop coaching, ownership and take control of our lives.

To find out more about The Pacific Institute go to

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Richard O'Neill, a storyteller colleague of mine, sent me this and I wanted to share it with you...

'How to Command Attention Through Storytelling' by Doug Lipman

"In the last decade or two, many new forms of communication have arrived. Email. Cell phones. Computer bulletin boards. Chat rooms. Instant messaging. And more. So why would you want to use storytelling, the ultimate low-tech form of communication, when you are surrounded by so many hi-tech channels?

It's Getting Harder to Communicate, Not Easier
Paradoxically, our information-rich lives make communication more difficult. Sure, we have more and more ways to reach people. But that very surfeit of communication channels overloads us. We struggle to keep up with the incoming messages and are expected to respond immediately to all of them. Thus, the average length of messages gets shorter and shorter, while the frequency and urgency increase. As a result, communication becomes more and more fragmented. Our ability to convey complex or detailed messages in such an environment is actually reduced. What about those we need to communicate with? Bombarded with messages, they have so many demands on their attention that they can scarcely focus on what we want to tell them. In the past, we could usually succeed just by bumbling through a conversation until we were done explaining ourselves. But now, people who aren't immediately interested in what we are saying, are likely to turn to the next thing that grabs their attention - whether we're done yet or not. It doesn't much matter what field you're in. For example, suppose you're in sales or are promoting a non-profit cause. It used to be that you could shoot the breeze, take 15 minutes or more to get acquainted, and establish a sense of familiarity before you had to mention what you're promoting. Those days seem to be gone. Now, you need to grab people's attention and imagination in record time.

When We Can't Command Attention, We Fail
Unless we can command and hold the attention of our listeners, our lives suffer. We make fewer allies, sympathizers, or sales. Our students lag behind in learning and test scores. Our children or grandchildren tune us out. As professionals, we work harder to find clients and do our jobs, with less to show for it. We end up with more pressure, more tasks, and still less time in which to do them. In fact, our whole society suffers. Because we have been taught to use only bullet-point communication - without the complimentary, effectiveness-enhancing skills of story-communication, we have been set up for failure. Further, we are faced with the prospect of a society in which children take in only the best-packaged messages, and therefore miss the messages that are the most nourishing. We are faced with a downward spiral of always attending to the most glitzy messages coming at us and having little ability to control internally where our attention goes.

The Attention Race
The problem with all these methods is that they create an arms race. For example, in the early days of television, a scene might last 3 minutes before a camera change. Within a couple of decades, the scene or camera angle would change within one minute. Now, in most prime-time shows, the camera angle changes in less than 30 seconds, often every 10 seconds. In commercials, it changes every 1 to 3 seconds! Why is that? In the early days, TV itself held our attention because it was new. When the novelty began to wear off, it took faster changes to keep our attention. But we got used to those, so the techniques escalated: ever faster changes, ever more use of violence, humiliation and shock. No one ever wins an arms race. They can only gain a temporary advantage until their newest weapon gets into the hands of everyone else or is rendered useless through a new defensive strategy. In time, the other side always catches up.

Beyond the Flashing Lights
Storytelling, that ancient, "obsolete" form of communication, can succeed where these "flashing lights" strategies fail. Why? It engages different parts of people's brains. We are hard-wired, since before the advent of the most basic technologies, to imagine story - to invest story with our own experiences, predilections, and emotions. When you engage people in story listening, they stop responding merely to stimulus. You activate a channel that connects to an ancient part of their minds. They now do the work of imagining the possible benefits of your product or service, or the piece of information you want them to absorb. You teach them not by bombarding them with ever faster stimulation, but by engaging their own internal sense of imagination.

Mutually Respectful Communication
That is why so many people are discovering the ancient power of storytelling. It is not a magic bullet, but it is a form of mutually respectful communication based on cooperative imagining.
Unlike watching reality television, reading our email, or surfing the web, storytelling slows us down, connects us, and encourages us to cooperate with a live human for our mutual benefit.
Storytelling is a form of interaction that never grows old, that people don't grow out of simply because a new form of stimulation arises. Storytelling is more important now than ever - not in spite of the electronic age, but because of it."

A brilliant message from a great storyteller. If you want to read more and find out about the programmes Doug runs you can visit
I had lunch today with Paul Napier, the Editor, and Nicola Megson, the Deputy Editor, of the Yorkshire Evening Post...

I have never been frightened of the truth and I have always been keen to develop the relationship with the team at the Evening Post. Of course, I accept that they should hold us to account but it is increasingly important that they fully understand the issues and the context... and we must ALL work at that with Paul, Nicola, Ian Rosser and the team at the Evening Post.

It's funny but I think the thing you learn, whenever you spend time with the so called 'dark forces' and the opposition, is that they are not that dark and that they, like us, care about the important things, the things that really matter here in Leeds... ensuring that our young people are happy, healthy, safe and increasingly successful, empowering local communities, developing strong relationships with partners, delivering powerful information to the people of Leeds, celebrating and building the image of our great city and constantly searching for the truth.

The truth is that Paul and Nicola are bright, talented and challenging colleagues who now owe me a lunch!
I started my day early at Beecroft Primary School where June Turner and her colleagues are releasing the most extraordinary magic...

June and her colleagues have transformed this little school and achieved some remarkable things over the years. June is a talented and highly effective headteacher with very high standards which impact on everything she touches and it shows as you walk around this wonderful little school.

Year 6 were having breakfast before taking their writing SAT today and if the quality of writing around the school is anything to go by these brilliant little learners will have no problems.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Did you know that every brain begins as a female brain? Scientists have proved that until eight weeks after conception, all brains are female...

In her book, "The Female Brain," Louann Brizendine explains how the female brain works, what women are thinking, and the difference in the way they process thoughts compared with the way men do. For example, a woman uses about 20,000 words a day while a man uses about 7,000. She calls the book an "owner's manual" for women, showing how the female brain sees the world differently and reacts differently than the male brain in every stage of life from newborn to old age. The book draws on her own work on hormones and emotions, as well as the past decade of discoveries in neuropsychology, neuroendocrinology and neuroscience.

Research shows that most aspects of male and female brains are similar, Brizendine says. IQs average the same, and both sexes are capable of excellence at physical, artistic and intellectual pursuits. There also are fascinating differences. In problem-solving tests, women and men may come to the same answer, although brain scans show that they use different brain circuitry to find the solution. Women tend to have faster and better fine-motor skills than men, as well as faster and broader verbal skills. Women have more neurons in the part of the brain devoted to emotions and to detecting emotions in others. In a complex situation a woman is likely to understand the overall situation better than a man, while paying attention to the emotional content and the emotional effects of the circumstances. Brizendine says that understanding women's and men's brains is important. "Brain differences do identify different strengths for women and men," she says. "Delineating these differences can enable women and men to take advantage of their strengths and understand their differences."

If you want to find out more visit
I spent part of today with Margaret Coleman, Regional Executive Director at the Learning and Skills Council...

Margaret, Mike Lowe and I were going to London to see Lord Andrew Adonis about our 14 - 19 Strategy, Building Schools for Future, Academies and the FE estate. Interestingly Margaret dances to keep fit and I have just been reading some new research from the Department of Health which shows that dancing is as beneficial to our fitness and general health as mainstream sport. The benefits of dance are the same as the benefits of engaging in sport and include:
  • healthier heart and lungs;
  • reduced risk of osteoporosis;
  • better co-ordination, agility and flexibility;
  • improved balance and spacial awareness; increased physical confidence;
  • improved mental functioning;
  • increased energy expenditure.

The Benefits of Dance for All Ages is published by the Arts Council. You can find out more by visiting


Despite everything research suggests that we are no happier now than we were 50 years ago...

In his book 'Authentic Happiness' Martin Seligman argues that happiness is not the result of good genes or good luck and that we can teach people to be happy by cultivating and using many of the strengths and traits colleagues possess including kindness, originality, humour, optimism and generosity. by identifying the very best in ourselves Seligman argues that we can improve the world around us and achieve new and sustainable levels of commitment, contentment and meaning.

Lord Richard Layard, Director of the Well-being Programme in the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, argues that the key to success is to give higher priority to promoting better human relationships. He believes that the revolution to build character should be a major aim in every school with expert teachers of PSHE for whom that is their full-time mission and passion. Richard argues that PSHE is an extraordinarily difficult subject to teach but that we increasingly know what works and what does not. PSHE teaching must be based increasingly on evidence based research about what changes children and young people and what does not!

Both Martin Seligmana dn Ricahrd Layard use the example of the Penn Resiliency Programme in Pennsylvania which focuses on children understanding their own emotions and caring for others. I am not saying that this programme is the answer but it has had incredible outcomes and you can find out more at
Recent visits to Brno and Stockholm have once again demonstrated how much we can all learn from partnerships between schools here in Leeds and schools in Europe and elsewhere...

Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Educationa nd Skills, Geoff Hoon, Minister for Europe and Neil Kinnock, Chair of the British Council are encouraging schools to take part in international partnerships through an intiative called 'Learning Together'.

Why not expand your horizons and get involved with a school in Europe. You can find out more by visiting