Why resistance is important

Despite my being a supporter of marriage equality, it is vitally important in the long run for there to be resistance to it. I would say that for any social change issue, we need to rethink our tolerance for resistance, because it is in the resistance itself that real change happens.

A number of years ago I was living in Queensland when Pauline Hanson made her famous debut on the political stage. It was a remarkable time to be there. I remember how friends, almost overnight, started to express what was to me the most vile racism. I was shocked by not only what was said but the fact that people I knew, really good people, were all of a sudden speaking in such fearful and hurtful ways

What Pauline Hanson did was dredge up and fuel dormant racism. She exposed a part of Australia’s social consciousness and collective karmic psyche that was to me repulsive. Despite my judgements of it at the time, the fact of the matter is that it was there and it needed to be dealt with.

Of course along with bringing to the surface this previously unacknowledged fear within the society, it also brought to the surface those people and ideas that were pursuing the opposite. I remember 40,000 people showing up for a Reconciliation March in Brisbane, an attendance and purpose that would have been unimaginable only a couple of years earlier.  It was an exciting time in Australia actually, because there was such a surgence in civic activity, social consciousness and the dissolving of outdated views.

Social change requires both the dark and the light.

Despite the discomfort at the time, and the pain that was caused to people through her words and the communities actions, it was all necessary for the social change process. In the end Pauline Hanson lost nor did Read more

A short history of saving the world

Where did the modern idea of charity and doing good come from? The notion of the non-profit as the primary vehicle for change is incredibly new in the grand scheme of Earth’s history. There are many drivers behind doing good, and it has also taken many forms and structures in society and community over time. I frame it here deliberately not from the point of view of ‘doing good’, but what has driven the emergence of new forms. That drive is a deep cultural and psychological need to be ‘saved’ or ‘to save’.

It all began with this idea that The Gods will Save Us, or at least close to it. We actually originally thought we could save ourselves until we realised there were other forces at play beyond our control, AND, that saving oneself doesn’t always work!

So we attempted coexisting together for a while, yet were somehow powerless to the whims of the mighty Gods – victims in a world where we were unable to really make it for ourselves. This was at least until we noticed someone doing (or asserting) things a little different. He (or maybe she), showed us that …. Read more

art as change | egnahc sa tra

[ art as change | change as art ]

On the weekend I had the privilege hearing Australian artist Lynette Wallworth at TEDxSydney. Lynette uses video installation, photography and film to explore our relationship with ourselves, others and the natural world. Her presentation gave a preview into her new film project Coral Rekindling Venus, which explores underwater worlds to celebrate a rare astronomical event in the transit of Venus. In Lynette’s own words she talks about her work:

Imagine global co-operation for a global problem. Imagine corals as the barometer of climate change. Imagine we are the pivot point. Imagine rekindling Venus.

My intent is to leave the audience with a sense of wonder for the complexity of the coral community and a deep-felt longing to see it survive.

It was such a beautiful example and affirmation of the role of art and film in changemaking. I have been often inspired by those changemakers who utilise art in working with people, communities and in communicating new thinking and ideas. In a world obsessed with entrepreneurship as the most effective and legitimate vehicle for change, we ignore to our detriment the power and ethic of art as a universal and enduring force for change.

Just as art is a vehicle for change, so too is change an art. Having worked extensively with changemakers over the past few years, some of the most exciting projects I have witnessed were highly creative in how they have been born and grown. I think of businesses like The Groundswell Project Read more

What’s your hidden curriculum?

In education there is a term called the hidden curriculum, which refers to unintended outcomes or lessons taught in the classroom. These mostly encompass the soft stuff like values, beliefs, behaviours and norms that are transmitted through the social environment or the behaviour of the educator.

As a teacher a number of years ago, I was very familiar with the intended curriculum – those activities purposefully designed to bring about certain learning. There was an active process of designing lessons to do this. I was also conscious of how I used space and acted to bring about lessons. Despite all of this, I was still struck when students would tell me what they learned from me or a lesson, and I would be surprised to hear stuff that I was not actually conscious of doing or remembered occurring. These were at times positive lessons, and other times negative experiences. It was striking how so many of the most deeply memorable learning experiences where not from the ‘intentional curriculum’, but from the ‘hidden curriculum’ of the teacher.

Now, this all sounds like a fairly harmless thing if one has a bit of awareness and some emotional intelligence to deal with this stuff. The concept of a hidden curriculum can have a darker side though. An example of a more negative expression is when a school promotes inclusiveness while structuring its classrooms by ranking students according to ability or performance. Research has shown that relationships that are structured and modeled within the classroom can transfer to outside of the classroom. These norms have been seen to influence social groupings Read more