Archive by Author | Philip Patston

What does true diversity look like?

The following tweet turned up in my feed from Susie Sirman, from Alberta, Canada, a self-confessed “high school science and art teacher, learning coach, edtech enthusiast, busy mom and a terrible choice to follow on Twitter.” So I followed her. But anyway, her tweet:

I like the model (further tweets between us revealed it isn’t hers) and I agree with it to an extent. Simply putting different people in the same room isn’t useful, but I think it is, unfortunately, what inclusion is about currently. It isn’t, however, diversity.

So I wondered, using this model, what diversity would look like and, just out of interest, how it might differ from assimilation. I changed the colours of the dots for aesthetic reasons as you’ll see below. And here’s what I came up with:

diversity_model_key

Assimilation is when “different” people are included as long as they take on the “colour” of the majority, ie. beliefs, values, behaviour etc., in order to be accepted. This is often the result of our current model of inclusion.

True diversity, however, is when all parties are able to learn about each other’s similarities and differences — or uniqueness and commonality — and, as such, colours blend, creating a new set of values, beliefs and behaviours, unique to the group. As a result, the colour of the group — or its culture — also changes.

This post originally appeared on www.philippatston.com

The water hoarder — a capitalist fable

water-money

Once upon a time there was a man. The man liked water — you may even say he loved it.

The man grew up in a family of water lovers. The family didn’t have a lot of water, but they had enough to not be thirsty.

He finished school and went to university. At university, he learnt how to acquire water.

The man graduated and set up a Water Acquisition business. The business started slowly but, over the years, the man got better and better acquiring water. He built more and more reservoirs to store his water, until he had many hundreds of them.  Read More…

Education and training versus experiential learning

Having recently spent the weekend co-facilitating a leadership programme and then attending a job interview  for a part-time communications position at a high-profile charitable organisation, I find myself reflecting on how much I do, and have done, that I haven’t actually been educated or trained to do.

I began learning to facilitate about twenty to 25 years ago, using my counselling training — communicating through questioning and reflective listening one on one — and applying it to a group situation. The process maps almost seamlessly — all that changes is the content, from an emphasis on personal issues and feelings to social issues and opinions (though feelings also often feature predominantly as well).

When deciding to apply for the communications role I realised that, though not specifically, communications has featured in just about every role I’ve undertaken to date, but I’ve never trained in media or communications. From managing publications for the Human Rights Commission in the mid-90s, to promoting myself as a comedian, to writing and managing several blogs and websites for Diversity New Zealand and Diversityworks Trust, I’ve done it it all, from traditional media releases to social media and networking. Read More…

Obligation — where does it come from?

Most people would say they feel obligated as a result of someone else’s expectation(s) of them. That’s no surprise when you look at the dictionary definition:

an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment: [ with infinitive ] : I have an obligation to look after her.

• [ mass noun ] the condition of being morally or legally bound to do something: they are under no obligation to stick to the scheme.

• a debt of gratitude for a service or favour: she didn’t want to be under an obligation to him.

• [ Law ] a binding agreement committing a person to a payment or other action.

Morality, legal binding, that’s pretty weighty stuff. Here’s another way of thinking about obligation that, for me, feels easier to swallow: Read More…

In defence of Justin Bieber and other child celebrities

Justin Bieber

I’ve been pretty unimpressed with the rather ugly responses to Justin Bieber’s misdemeanours over the last few days. Sure, some of the reactions have been comical, like this YouTube video, and RuPaul’s tweet of his rather beautifully made-up mugshot (I’ve just been told it’s transphobic — no offence intended).

But a 100,000-signature petition to have him deported from the US, for doing something that a good many, if not most, teenage boys do, seems pretty mean-spirited and exaggerated to me. Particularly as Americans have, until now, been happy to claim him as their own (I didn’t even know he was Canadian until this hit the news).

The blatant exploitation of child celebrities by the music, film and television industry has never sat well with me. Michael Jackson is a classic example of what happens when children are exposed to the crazy hype of modern entertainment from too early an age. Read More…

Taking my hat off to teachers

Teacher in front of backboard - 3D graphic

I can be a bit cynical and critical of schools and the education system. But I had an experience yesterday that has completely changed my attitude towards teachers.

It was a privilege to be asked by Epsom Girls Grammar School to work with Year 12 students putting themselves forward for leadership positions next year. I did a 20 minute TED-style talk entitled “Dynamic Leadership”, followed by two workshops on mastering the five tasks of leaders (based on a business model by Warren Bennis).

What took me by surprise was how exhausted I felt afterwards. I felt I’d been working three days, not three hours! Read More…