Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The many ways to ask questions

The art of asking rich open-ended questions is critical to the process of collective knowledge creation. New thinking, learning or decision processes can be created from a unique set of questions to perform specialized functions. Here are a few of these questions, categorized according to purpose: 


Discuss
Take it in turns to talk about your ideas, then [brainstorm....] 
Turn to the person next to you and discuss your ideas for two minutes, then [brainstorm, describe....] 
Discuss your ideas about [the subject] then... 
Share your experiences with a partner about........then.... 
Ask the person next to you a question about....... 


Decide 
If you were to be responsible for making a decision  about [describe the situation] what would you do and why?
What will you do about... 
[How, what, where, why, when] will you... 
Who will...? 
Integrate the [ideas, critical issues] into a single idea. 
If you could do anything you liked what would you do…. 
Choose one idea and give your reasons for selecting it… 
What would you now do if you were the boss? 
What will you start tomorrow? 


Generate ideas/information/opinions
List all the [people, things, stakeholders, parts, criteria, resources].... 
Describe what you [see, feel, hear, think].... 
Write a story about... 
In what ways can you... 
Think about and prepare a list of... 
Write down all the... 
Tell all about the... 
Compose a [letter, story, report, poem about... 
Type/write your ideas... 
In 25 words or less, describe....


Hypothesize
What might happen if... 
If you could invent the future what... 
What is your best guess?
If you were [name of person or thing], what would you do to... 
What theory could fit all the ideas you have? 


Judge
What are the benefits of.... 
Select and summarise the best [2, 3, 5] idea(s)... 
Rank this/the list of ideas in [ascending, descending] order... 
Which of these ideas would you delete from the list and why? 
Pick the Top 5-10 ideas and... 
What is the most important idea here?. 
What criteria will you use to... 
Write down a list of rules.... 
What criteria will you use to... 
Write down a list of rules to...


Modify
Combine the ideas... 
Choose an idea and improve it
Choose an idea and apply the following criteria (list of criteria) to improve it.
Modify the... 
Rearrange the following list in [ascending, descending, etc....] order... 
Make the [thing, subject, idea][bigger, smaller, longer, shorter]... 


Pattern
What is the pattern to the ideas/contributions?
What are the common ideas/features of... 
In what ways is the [subject] [the same as, different to]... 
Give another example of... 
What else is like this... 
What fits this same [pattern, description]... 
Describe similar [events, things, people, situations] that you..... 


Plan
Describe a project you will begin immediately (5 word snazzy title and 25-word description).  
Make a list of the first five (10) steps to get started. Respond like this....1....., 2....., 3....etc.
What are the milestones we wish to achieve. Respond like this (date 1: event, date 2: event etc.)
How will you... 
How you could (name of activity)... 
Prepare an action plan that describes [who, how, what, when, where, why]... 


Re-frame
Pretend you are........... What [ask a question about the consequences].
Reverse roles with... ….What  [ask a question about the consequences].
Do the opposite of.......What... 
Imagine you are a/the.....What...
Look at the issue from another perspective. ...What.... 
You are [name of a person, thing]. What do you [think, feel] about... 
Describe another way to.......What....
Describe what does not fit with……....Explain...  


Research
Conduct an experiment [describe the experiment] .Describe what happened in detail.
Explore the [topic] by [reading, watching, searching a/the] [CD-ROM, video, text book, Internet] and report back what you have discovered/learned.  
Go to page [number] of [name of text] and... 
Multitask with [another kind of software] and...  
Report back to the group about what you have found about... 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Working with the wisdom of your crowd

Your crowd has generated tens or even hundreds of ideas. How do you reduce the ideas to a manageable number, so that what you have created together is focused, doable, bridges differences and includes a call to action? We use a technique called "interventions", a single instruction to help turn the group's ideas into something of value. Interventions are designed to develop a new theory or model, resolve conflicting ideas into an overarching concept or decision, suggest new projects, make personal commitments or list action steps. We begin by reading aloud every idea, to acknowledge their value, then apply one of the following interventions: Themes: This is a sense making approach, which leads to the creation of new models, which are precursors of theories. Before the ideas are read aloud, ask the group to look for the key themes or patterns, the ideas that stand out or resonate with the group. Then at the conclusion of the activity, ask people to submit one 2-3 word theme each. Themes - What are the key ideas, patterns, common themes or underlying concepts? Integrate: This is a powerful dialectical knowledge building AND cross-boundary relationships development step, which asks participants to discern a higher level idea or concept, which embraces some or all of the ideas they have generated. It helps to bridge differences and integrate interests, and reduce ideas down to the most important so they are manageable. Before the ideas are read aloud, ask the group to identify 2-3 ideas that could be integrated into a single overarching idea. Integrate - Select 3-4 ideas and create a new idea that combines all the ideas. Invent a method: Sometime we ask groups to collectively generate questions or activities to explore an issue. We can use these questions to create new learning or decision methods. After the questions/activities have been read aloud, ask the participants to arrange/organize the various them into a sequence. Invent a new method. List the steps - 1....., 2...., 3....., etc. Action: The best way to start any new project is to make a list of the steps, preferably in the order in which they will be carried out. Later, the facilitator can accumlate all the suggested action steps into a final list with no redundancies, where every step is regarded as important. Steps - List the first five steps to get started. 1......, 2....., 3.....etc. Extended action plan: After the group creates a list of the first five action steps, and the ideas are read aloud, ask the group to make a more extensive list (ten instead of five) and improve the order. There is usually a big learning effect. Steps - List the first 10 steps to get started. 1......, 2......, 3.....etc. Milestones: A useful way to conceptualize a project is to make a list of the key milestones or accomplishments and how we will celebrate it, such as delivering a report, holding a first meeting, commissioning a project, or winning an award after the project is successfully completed. Milestones - Describe the major milestones at the start, middle and end of a project. e.g. (Date 1: activity, Date 2: activity etc.) Project idea: Joint action needs a common focus. One of the best ways to begin is to craft a snazzy or catchy titles for a project that will enthuse everyone to contribute to, or jointly agree to implement. Often projects are combinations of small projects, so even after everyone has contributed their idea for a project, a SECOND round intervention, which asks all the participants to combine two or three ideas into a larger concept is useful. We - Craft a project title (4-5 words) and a 20 word description. Recommendation: Rarely can a group make a decision affecting the entire organisation, unless they are the senior management team. Even then, the top team may also require some kind of permission/agreement, such as board approval. A useful way to encourage people to participate in the larger-scale organisation decision making process, is to invite them to propose recommendations, and justify what they would do if they had complete authority. This approach also helps people to think about who the decision will affect and how they might need to manage the organisation politics. Everyone - If you had complete authority, what would you do? Personal commitment: The main purpose of a decision making session is to "make a decision". If we are expecting participants to make some kind of personal commitment to action as a result of the session, then they can type, submit and subsequently announce what they will personally commit to. Me - Type your name and what you will do, by when, to make this happen. Improvement: The facilitator chooses an idea and asks everyone to improve it, in any way they like, or using a specific method such as SCAMPER (Substitute, Combine, Modify, Adapt, Put to other purposes, Eliminate or Rearrange/Reverse). Or each member of the team chooses an idea, they feel they can enhance, and improves it. Improve - Choose an idea and improve it using one of these criteria. Think about [list of criteria]. Forecast the consequences: When we make decisions, we also need to think of the consequences of what we might do. Use the Consequences intervention to ask participants to consider what might happen next if their ideas are implemented. You can insert the Forecast intervention to consider the consequences of all the ideas. Consequences - What could/will now happen? Imperatives: People who return from retreats with long shopping lists of strategies rarely act on their thinking. But if ask participants to set a time frame, think about who should be involved, what resources are required and the first steps, there’s a greater chance something may happen. What must we now do starting today? Who? How? With what? By when? Concept: We can learn to understand an issue or topic by paying close attention to its' language. We begin by listing what we know about it, especially the words associated with the topic and any key concepts, relationships, models or theories. We then choose and use the key words (as many as necessary but often not more than 5-6 words) to more robustly describe its essence. For example: how an engine works, and the component parts - engine, crankshaft, piston, valve, fuel, etc.. Concept - Select 4-5 key words/ideas and craft a new and better concept.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Complex project manager, age 2 years

In a world that has become more complex, ambiguous and uncertain there's a whole bunch of amazing skills which are required to keep big projects from crashing and burning.

Here's a short list: Open-mindedness, adaptability, tolerance of ambiguity, to not jump quickly to conclusions, have a good awareness of fellow team members and how to better serve their needs, to be honest and open with each other in order to develop trust, see things from multiple perspectives and use "gut instinct" well.


Not only are these skill sets in demand for project leaders, but also for people who lead teams distributed everywhere throughout organization systems, so we can more readily help people navigate a rapidly changing world.

Strangely, this complex project manager skill set resembles the skills that kindergarten children already posses or develop, especially the openness to possibility, a thirst for more knowledge and information and preparedness to get on well with other children. If so, then, why, are these skills socialized out of our children by the time they graduate 12 years later, most of them (about 99% actually) removed from the pool of potential complex project managers.

Anecdotal evidence suggest that age and experience and high-level soft skills are prerequisites for becoming complex project managers. Associate Professor Anne Pisarski of Queensland University of Technology Business School is exploring whether it is possible for mid-level managers to develop as complex project managers. Why? They are as scarce as hens's teeth and in high demand.

Anne presented some of her early research findings at our International Centre for Complex Project Management conference in Lille, France (August 23-25, 2011) that suggests it is possible to acquire these skills at an earlier age.

So what if these kinds of skills could be acquired, not from the mid-30s, but from the time we start school, or even before. Many Australian early primary classrooms operate this way, so it should not be that hard. What if our project management people were to have a conversation with primary and secondary educators? Might that make a difference?

Complex projects can be almost anything these days, as more and more organization "projectise" their operations, in order to get new activities started and completed faster. Often they have to beg, borrow, steal (and contract) from across their organizations the many disciplines and resources they need (often temporarily) to get new projects up and running.

Big complex projects can be anything from developing an iron ore mine, upgrading a corporate-wide IT system, keeping peace in a war-torn country, sending a man to Mars, re-inventing school education, developing and launching a new drug, or starting a large-scale self-help project in Africa.

Common features of complex projects are many disciplines, messy politics, short completion time frames, rapidly evolving technologies and methods that are out of date before the project is completed and the intersection of many systems.

So here are some questions/activities for educators to consider:

1. If many more people than ever before are required to play the role of a complex project manager, what can we as teachers do, to prepare young people for these capacities?
2. How might young people learn open-mindedness, adaptability, tolerance of ambiguity, to not jump quickly to conclusions, have a good awareness of fellow team members and how to better serve their needs, to be honest and open with each other in order to develop trust, see things from multiple perspectives and use "gut instinct" well. Choose one and give examples of how this might happen.
3. Design a learning activity where young people could practise these complex project management leadership skills a) in primary school b) in junior high school c) in senior high school and d) at university.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The future of childhood

Would you buy a computer if you has to wait 12 or more years for the software programs to download before you could use them? And when you did, discover they are out of date and not much use.

Almost certainly not!

So why do we send our offspring to a place called school, and expect them to remain silent for the next 12 to 15 years of their lives as we fill up their "hard drives" with data rather than practice the ways of being in the world that will be useful to them, right now and later on. How to make decisions. How to design and make stuff. How to perform, speak in public, deliver a presentation, develop and use a thinking or decision method, inspire fellow citizens, contribute to the community, host a dinner party or conduct a conversation.


The world of the child is at the crossroads. The more we teach to the test, which involves ongoing cycles of drilling and testing in order to acheive certain standards, there is less and less room in the school day for the kind of learning experiences that really count. School becomes more and more like a factory and less like the communities and workplaces of the 21st Century.

Says Mitchel Resnik, of the Media Lab at Massachussets Institute of Technology, playful learning experiences were once the norm, but now:

"Kindergarten is undergoing a dramatic change. For nearly 200 years, since the first kindergarten opened in 1837, kindergarten has been a time for telling stories, building castles, drawing pictures, and learning to share. But that is starting to change. Today, more and more kindergarten children are spending time filling out phonics worksheets and memorizing math flashcards [5]. In short, kindergarten is becoming more like the rest of school. In my mind, exactly the opposite is needed: Instead of making kindergarten like the rest of school, we need to make the rest of school (indeed, the rest of life) more like kindergarten." 


School is a also convenient child minding service for busy mums and dads, and school is not something kids want to disappear just because it can be boring at times and you can't use the tools like computer, the mobile phone, video and audio producting tools, or games as much as you would like. Kids like school because it offers real 4D connection, at recess and lunch times.

Home is where many kids now live well into their twenties, as it takes much longer to prepare young people for the 21st Century world, so kids are delaying the day when they become fully responsible adults, capable housing themselves and cutting the ties with their parents. But enjoying the benefits of having a good time at the local bar and grill, or even bringing a girl or boyfriend home to warm their single or even double bed, with Mum and Dad's full knowledge is a kind of early adult form of play

There is also another anomaly. Play now permeates adulthood. Increasingly, business games are employed by management teams to explore complex scenarios. Simulations give us the opportunity to understand how to respond to unexpected events. Some businesses operate like games such as our friends and colleagues at Performance of a Lifetime in New York or the military, where complex manouvers are often played out under conditions which closely resemble multiplayer games.

There are also some uncanny similarities between children's collective play and new ways of learning autocatalytically, by setting up the initial conditions, and allowing the newly created knowledge to simply emerge, which is a feature of complex adaptive systems like to the Zing complex adaptive learning environment.

So here is a question sequence to explore the future of childhood in which collective play has a central role:

1. What is it like to be a child?
2. What aspects of being a child are valuable to carry on into life?
3. What is happening to children today that might be different to children of 100 years ago? e.g. making and influencing adult purchases.
4. Describe all the different ways that children play together, e.g. using sticks to represent people, animals and things.
5. What happens when children play together? How do they seem to learn from one another?
6. Describe all the different kinds of games that adult play. e.g. scrabble, cards
7. What can adults learn from the games they play. Choose one game and describe the kinds of learning that might be possible.
8. Describe all the different ways that business uses games, simulations, dilemmas, vignettes, improv etc.
9. What can/does business learn from games/simulations and how does this help leaders better understand growing complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity.
10. Describe a new kind of school, in which play, or playing collective games is the normal way of learning. What would teachers and students do? What would be on the curriculum of a school focused on play and games?
11. Describe a new kind of workplace, in which play, or playing collective games is the normal way of working.
12. Describe a new kind of community in which play or playing collective games is the new way of interacting.
13. What might the future of childhood be in the 21st Century, and how might it be different to the 20th century?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Improv games for new ZPDs

The Zone of Proximal development is a concept created by Lev Vygotsky, the legendary Russian psychologist, to distinguish between what a child can learn on his/her own compared to the additional development that takes place when he/she learns with help from an adult or more expert person or in collaboration with a peer.

But Vygotsky also showed that when children (and adults, so it seems) play collectively, they "raise themselves up in the zone of proximal development, as if they were a head taller" and create new shared knowledge. Almost magical.

It's the same principle as emergent order in physical and biological systems, where the new structures, chemicals or species emerge through a process of autocatalysis. It's the "kinetic melodies" or neural sequences of gestures, symbols, signs, ideas, concepts and activity that spark new sequences in the human brain.


These days we define the ZPD more broadly, but this same kind of super-development can occur when we participate in any kind of collective play, such as reciprocal teaching, in an interaction with a computer or via overlapping ZPDs in a community of learners. Other ZPDs include a "zone of proximal reflection" as occurs when you keep a journal and you have conversations with yourself, or when you learn with the guidance of a facilitator, mentor or coach who asks you to think about relevant meta-questions or poses new challenges.

The one sure fire way to create collective ZPDs is via play. The Improvisation kind of play. Simulations. Games. Vignettes. Collective pantomimes. The kind of stuff that actors do on the spur of the moment, starting with just a few words or situation.

Here's just a few different kinds of collective ZPDs. The give ourselves an "A in advance" ZPD (which is what Ben Zander, the conductor does to good effect), the authentic happiness ZPD (which is what Appreciative Inquiry is all about, the spiritual ZPD (where we might meditate collectively), the delighted ZPD (where we engage in activities that delight us), or the wunderkammer/curiosity ZPD (for those who collect and share stories about wierd/interesting/unusual objects).

Here are a few Improv games to help you play with other people in new kinds of ZPDs, as well as a method to create your own:

1. Rich questions game: If you could be a fly on the wall, on whose wall would you like to be and what amazing/interesting things might you discover? One person begins, then the next person says...Yes, and...
2. Invent new words game: In threes, write down three unusual words, then each of you have a turn at creating a new word and definining what it means e.g. crack, outside, singing. Outsidecracksinger - a junkie who sings outrageously loudly when he/she is high and is chucked out of his house by his/her partner.
3. The Wisdom Age game: Each of us invents a new job/profession, some new tools and some new rules to apply knowledge wisely. Then we act out those new roles with those new tools and those new rules...and see what happens.
4. Invent a new "Yes, and" game that begin with a sentence, a word, gestures, numbers, musical notes, colours, drawings, poetry, song, situations, scenes from famous movies...etc.
5. Improv game: Design a new Improv game for 10 people to play around some ethical dilemma e.g. capping BPs oil well in the Gulf.
6. Disussion with a famous person game: One person plays Einstein and the other plays Mahatma Ghandi. Act out what they might say and do.
7. Writing for an audience game: You have to give a speech at TED.org. It's a new concept called TED poster girls and boys for up and coming thought leaders. But rather than give you 20 minutes, they have to squeeze you into 30 minute. Write a one minute thought provoking speech about something the world can learn from you.
8. Create your own Improv and ZPD game. Begin by choosing an unusual kind of zone of proximal development (e.g. a walk through the zoo ZPD)  and describe the rules for the collective game..e.g. (form two teams, each team chooses an animal, and then plays yes-and to describe the animal. The other team has to guess the animal. The team who get to tell the most yes-and stories wins the game.

Teamwork image, created by Alan Lam, from the Zing title, Dreams, Memes & Themes, 50 meetings to power up your organization.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Deep creativity everywhere

Just for fun I have been participating in an on-line creativity course with my favorite group of learning  revolutionaries, the East Side Institute in New York.

Twenty three of us have been exploring "Everyday creativity: Teaching and learning for the 21st Century."

This week's task was to be creative whenever we encountered a problem. Instead of rushing to a solution, we would write a poem. Just for fun.

Poetry is a form of written/spoken language. The words are selected and arranged so thee express ideas with a musical, rhythmic or sensuous quality. A kind of aural beauty with it's own unique patterns.

It helped me think about the relationship between the beauty of natural things and tools that humans create, and how we have become "pattern creators" as well as "pattern detectors".


We seem to be genetically disposed to discover beauty in everything. In all its different guises. It's how we make sense of the world. We look for events/things that occur more than once, so we can develop a rule for dealing with what we discover. So we can switch control from the ever-vigilant right frontal lobes to the reliably automatic left. And live in cognitive peace. It's what brains do. It's what sets us apart from our fellow species on planet earth.

We look for repetition, diversity, symmetry, simplicity, fecundity, regularity, self-similarity and brilliance.

The patterns underpin our creative nature. They are found in the rhythms of day-night, the seasons, animal gaits, heart beats, menstrual cycles and the tides. The spiral nature of galaxies, whirlpools, cyclones, the water disappearing down the plug-hole. The beautiful clockwise and counterclockwise spirals of sunflower seeds. The fractal (self-similar) nature of fern leaves, lightning, blood vessels, the alveoli of my lungs and the arrangements of my neurons. Waves of every kind - the windblown waves in sand dunes and oceans or the ripples on a pond. The sounds of birdsong or the cries of animals. The flocking of birds and the shoaling of fish as the fly or swim a fixed distance apart.

We humans have created our own "species" of patterns. Language, music, mathematics, science, the arts and laws.

And starting with these psychological representations, we render them in physical form to create works of art, products and tools we use in our daily lives.

Human-made patterns now rival the natural world with their own intrinsic beauty. And sometimes we mistake the models, theories and simulations for the real thing, and spend an unhealthy amount of time living in the world of our imaginations, rather than in balance with our fellow humans.

Here is an example of a mental model, a powerful way of thinking about how we engage in the world, developed by Howard Gardner, which has it's own intrinsic beauty. It's what Roger Penrose, author of The Emperor's New Mind,  would call a superb theory or model. Imagine using this model as the skeleton for a poem...see below for how you can write a line of poetry for each characteristic.

1 Bodily-kinesthetic
2 Interpersonal
3 Verbal-linguistic
4 Logical-mathematical
5 Intrapersonal
6 Visual-spatial
7 Musical
8 Naturalistic

You might like to try these Yes-and poetry games in pairs or as a large group. When we write this way together, it's as if there is an "invisible controller" of the group, that organizes the flow of what we do.

1. Brilliance Yes-and poetry game: On your turn, add three words which express your Brilliance (completeness, blissfulness, rightness, majesty, purity, strength, joy, compassion, love, clarity). Each line of the poem should start with - I feel [complete, or other aspect] when...
2. The Christian Bok Yes-and (Eunoia/beautiful thinking) poetry game: On your turn, add three words at a time, using only the vowel "a". Start with: Abracadabra alarms all
3. The no "e" game Yes-and poetry game. Write a poem, two words at a time, with no letter "e". Start with - All aphrodisiacs
4. Spectacular words Yes-and poetry game. Add two or three word combinations of superlatives/spectacular words only using these starter words - Exquisite phantasmagoria.
5. The Multiple Intelligence Yes-and poetry game. Take turns to create a poem where each line is an Improv game allows us to explore the intelligences. Finish where you started. 1 Bodily-kinesthetic, 2 Interpersonal, 3 Verbal-linguistic, 4 Logical-mathematical, 5 Intrapersonal, 6 Visual-spatial, 7 Musical, 8 Naturalistic

For example:

1. Fly like a bird, up in the sky.
2. Ask each other what you desire
3. Employ a metaphor for saying goodbye
4. 1,1,2,3,5...give it a try!

5. Close your eyes and imagine a lie,
6. Draw a picture that smells like hot pie,
7. Sing us a song that's like angels on high,
8. Listen to the birds as they fly through the sky.

6. The retro-viral poetry game: This is a game that should create new versions of itself, like a retro-virus. It should infect the brain, help create something more spectacular/interesting, and then become contagious.

Create another, more spectacular version of these kinds of questions, that play movies/songs in your mind or tunes on your body...."Thinking about all the different colors of the sky, what colors were they, what was happening at the time and what is the pattern?

For example....

What color is da sky?
Blue you say.
Nay. Think about every other day.
When it was green or black
Or even red or grey.

Write a verse,
Perhaps worse than this,
That gets your brain or body
Laughing it's *....* off.
Spectacular? No. It's just play

7.  Starting with a mental model, list all the attributes, then create a line of verse for each attribute. Jungian archetypes, Servant Leadership actions (Haiku), Polarities (Managership-leadership), family roles, Six Thinking Hats kinds of thinking, the senses, the seasons.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Teaching to the test

The latest reading scores were published in the USA last week.

They showed little change, despite a huge investment in time, student effort and teacher energy.

This means that one in six kids will continue to leave school, functionally illiterate. One in six!

That's 50 million of tomorrow's Americans who will be unable to read, write or count adequately. And as the world becomes more complex, these marginalized citizens will face a dwindling supply of jobs, and the cost of supporting them via the public purse, will continue to climb.

McKinsey, the management consulting firm, forecasts that by 2017, some 44 per cent of all jobs will require conversation and negotiation skills, to help collectively create new knowledge, and use that knowledge to develop new and better products, or deliver new and more powerful or effective services, that improve our quality of life.

So what are schools doing to prepare young people for this kind of world? Certainly not helping young people develop their teamwork or conversation skills, because we know from the research that most US classrooms are designed for "blah, blah, blah" rather than "yak,yak, yak". The teacher at the front of the class lecturing or asking closed questions. The students seated at separate desks, remaining quiet until spoken to.



Could it be that by focusing on the minutae of how well kids can read, write or use mathematical ideas, we are setting ourselves up for failure? Could it be that we teachers "teach to the test" so our schools keep their funding and we teachers keep our jobs? Could it be that short-term memorization strategies are not in our student's long-term best interests?

What if we used the latest knowledge from brain science to guide how we teach? What if we designed an education system that teaches to our frontal lobes, the part of our brain that makes us uniquely human, rather than the ancient "reptilian" brain we have in common with many other creatures, or the limbic brain we and our fellow mammals developed?

Our frontal lobes are responsible for making sense of the world, planning what to do and how to do it. They act as our own personal Google and find stuff for us when we most need it, in the context of a complex problem or issue. They lay down new automatic thinking and acting patterns, so we don't have to push the porridge up our nose every day. They give us the capabilities that most other animals don't have, the ability to use tools, to learn from the past, plan for the future, create new knowledge together, and make new and more powerful tools.

What if we judged teacher and student success by focusing on the bigger picture of student passion, engagement, performance or contribution? So that we create a classroom culture in which young minds and bodies thrive? And where teachers are actually rewarded for teaching this way.

A frontal-lobe focused classroom would provide opportunities for young people to develop their conversation, planning and problem solving skills in interactions with each other. To respect each other, ask rich questions, use different forms of discourse, listen empathetically, persuade an audience, engage in playful simulation or present a performance. They would be prepared for the world that's emerging, not the world of a hundred years ago, when unskilled work was plentiful and technology less complex.

And when we teach this way, our brain chemistry delivers enjoyable rewards for successfully completing tasks, especially those that are just a little ahead of our capabilities, like the way games are designed to reward you as you progress through each level.

Think of it this way. If you were a movie mogul, would you judge the success of your movies on a written exam of what moviegoers learned - the minutae, the detail and a fight/flight response - or the jingle of the cash register at the box office and the reviews by the pundits - the big picture, and the flow of good feelings.

Here's a workshop to explore the mood of your classroom:

1. When you are asked to recall specific information from memory, what emotions do you feel? And why do you feel this way?
2. What is the mood of your classroom? Make a list of the main emotions that students experience during the course of the day, and why they feel this way?
3. What is YOUR mood in the classroom? Make a list of the emotions you experience and why you feel this way.
4. Describe an activity in your classroom when your students experienced positive emotions. What were they doing and what teaching strategies were you using at the time?
5. Describe a time when your students were enthusiastically engaged in an activity for a long period of time, so they did not notice time passing. What were they doing and why did they stay engaged for so long?
6. Thinking about what you know about learning, engagement, our emotions and how the brain works, design a learning activity that generates positive emotions for you and your students, and results in enthusiastic and passionate engagement.
7. Describe a learning activity that is designed to make use of the frontal lobes ability to connect up/develop lower level component skills of reading, writing and maths so they are swept along for the ride.
8. Describe a test that would allow teachers and students to measure the "big picture" aspects of learning including passion, engagement, performance and contribution.
9. Describe a dual system of testing - the "big picture" and the "nitty gritty" so that both act as feedback loops to guide the kind of learning students need to undertake for the future. How would you ensure there is balance between the two?