Accelerating the Education Revolution COVID-19

Over the past few years conversation about the need to reinvent the education industry has escalated. The schooling system has changed very little since the beginning of the first industrial revolution. A bell rings and everyone must move into the classroom, then sit still, listen, take instruction from the teacher and don’t question too much. Then another bell goes and it is tea break, etc… Doesn’t this sound like it was designed to prepare people for routine factory work, rather than today’s fast changing and dynamic age, where increasing complexity and ambiguity requires a radically new approach? One that works within non-linear complexity and builds creativity and systems thinking rather than one based on reductionism and linear cause and effect thinking.

The first thing to look at is that education is upside down. One curriculum that everyone must fit into. In most cases, it also includes one way of teaching one curriculum. This needs to be flipped. We are all unique and therefore we need highly individualised curricula which are uniquely shaped around individual’s natural strengths. The early foundation years of one’s education might still require some common building blocks, however, with the advancement of AI and deep learning in the field of human psychology, I believe we will be able to accurately detect a person’s natural strengths from as young as 3 years old, (Research in the field of neuroscience now suggests that our personality at 3 years is very consistent through into adulthood), thus enabling us to begin tailoring a child’s education towards nurturing and growing their natural strengths, from a very early stage of development. Technology platforms such as Sterkla.com and many others, will be perfectly positioned to facilitate the connecting of students and tutors. This will mean that individuals will be able to hand pick their subjects and tutors based on which subjects complement their strengths and which tutors complement their style of learning. This will also allow education to become incredibly agile in meeting the dynamically changing needs of our increasingly complex world, which unfortunately, traditional institutions just cannot do.

As human beings we generally tend to resist upsetting status quo, until the status quo begins to fail us or create massive pain. The basic drivers of human behaviour are pain and pleasure, although we will always do much more to avoid pain. This along with the need to find coping mechanisms to meet increasingly complex challenges in our world has driven our individual and collective evolution. Until now, the pain required to change education has to a large extent outweighed the need to change it. Even if you agree with my assumptions about how education needs to change, actually removing your child from a traditional educational institute suddenly sounds a bit uncomfortable or even risky. And the simple reason for this is that the traditional route is familiar and safe.

Enter COVID-19!

With global COVID-19 pandemic escalating exponentially, increased restrictions on international travel, lock down of international boarders and the closure of more and more school, universities and educational institutes – where to from here? Currently we do not know how long this pandemic will continue, but it seems that from this vantage point the end is not yet in sight and the infection numbers are rising, not falling. Whilst we have been talking about the imminent disruption of the education industry, who would have thought that a global health crisis might prove to be the tipping point and accelerator of this disruption. Even if schools and universities close, education cannot stop and people will search and find alternative solutions for the continuity of their education. This could be the very factor that drives the much needed education revolution. If more and more schools and universities continue to close it will force a behaviour change and once people have found comfort in an alternative solution, there will be no going back.

We are seeing a trend in work where companies are reducing their numbers to a small core group of employees, then outsourcing “staff on demand” as described in the book – Exponential Organisations, precipitating a move away from corporatization and towards working remotely in small businesses or self-employment with an emphasis on specialisation, personal branding and global collaboration. I believe a similar trend is emerging in education, where the move is away from traditional educational institutions who own “the brand” and dictate the curricula, towards specialised or niche’d online tutors who own their own personal brand and allow education to become highly agile, accessible and individualised. I see the interpersonal aspect of education and the common human need for connection, being organised around community, cultural and sporting type activities rather than around educational institutes. Could COVID-19 fast track these changes?

By Gavin Lund – Co-Founder of Sterkla Coaching & Tutoring App

Online Tutoring coming in Version2.0 to Sterkla

Retirement Coaching for a your Next Career – Lynda Smith

We live in a world that is changing significantly. The convergence of technology and longevity is changing what the world of work looks like. This brings both opportunity and challenge, depending on one’s skills, health and attitude.

According to academics, Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, we are living on average 30 years longer than our great grandparents. This means that one is likely to have an extra season of good health before one becomes impacted by aging disease. The term in the world now is one of “younger old” and older old”. The gift of this extra season means that we need to shift our mindset and navigate and plan what our path may look like. 

The crossroads for this extra season will look different for each person. We are unique and working with a coach who understands the impact of longevity and technology can make a significant difference to an individual. There are many factors to take into consideration. To name a few: health, finances, family, work, purpose, technology and where one should live. We arrive at this crossroads with skills, experience, character and a unique history. 

Technology has changed the way we work, play and live. In previous generations, individuals died earlier due to more physical labour and a lack of health solutions. This is no longer the case and with lifelong learning we can open ourselves to new skills and ways to work, connect and communicate in ways that were not possible in the past. A coach can help you to bring these factors into consideration while mapping your next season.

The convergence of technology and longevity open many innovative solutions for the 50plus generation.  This generation has worked and developed skills over the past 30 years and hopefully has saved for this season. The opportunity to live a rich, blended life of some work, volunteering, travel and family time is possible. A coach can help their client to understand what they don’t see, ask the tough questions and be a mirror of reflection on this journey. The lessons we learnt from our parents and grandparents in this season could be blocking our mindset and not allowing us to create the best future for ourselves.

We live in exciting times. Our work as coaches can add such value to our clients. We too need to keep learning and understanding how much the world around us is shifting. Each generation is currently experiencing these new shifts from their world perspective. We are all impacted. I love to believe that everyday we can help others to live their best life. This life lives in a 21st century world.

By Lynda Smith – Retirement Coach

Follow Lynda Smith on Sterkla Coaching App https://app.sterkla.com/coachprofile/104

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Featured in SA Coaching News, South Africa’s only magazine for the coaching industry and coaching professionals. http://sacoachingnews.co.za/

How to Choose a Coach

The mental health industry has seen huge growth in the availability of life coaches and other mental health practitioners. Access to certification for such practices, and a largely unregulated industry means that not everyone with a certificate should be trusted to guide you through life’s challenges.

Just like not all doctors are created equal, nor are life coaches. Check out this list of points to be aware of before surrendering your vulnerabilities into the hands of a stranger.

1. Certification

While certification is important, it’s not the most important factor. There are certificates available with minimal training instruction for as little as $20 online. Being backed by an international institute or body also doesn’t mean that the training adequately prepares the individual to be a life coach.

Certification should be considered the bare minimum to get your foot in the door. It’s the ticket to the game. It doesn’t mean that they are adequately skilled to play the game, so to speak. Look beyond the certificate and check for experience, references, or other evidence that they are skilled and knowledgeable at what they do.

2. Establish rapport

Believe it or not, many life coaches lack the emotional maturity to handle their own life’s challenges, let alone someone else’s. It’s not easy to determine how emotionally mature they are when reviewing their credentials, so check if they offer a free connect session. That is, a session where they allow you an opportunity to test the suitability of their skills and demeanour in working with you to address your goals or challenges.

Remember, this is about you, not them. So you must be comfortable to work with them or else you won’t feel confident to boldly unpack the detail of what may be holding you back in life. Establishing a good rapport is a major hurdle to overcome if you hope to achieve results as quickly as possible.

3. Are they empathetic or sympathetic?

Empathetic means that they can understand where you’re at, and they have a genuine appreciation for what you’re going through. Sympathetic means that they not only understand, but they also have an emotional investment because of their personal experience with a similar challenge. As strange as it may sound, you don’t want a sympathetic life coach.

If your life coach is sympathetic towards your state, they run a considerably higher risk of losing objectivity and developing a bias for your position. As comforting as that sounds, it could be the very reason that holds you back from overcoming the current obstacles in your path. You need someone that is more empathetic and less sympathetic so that they relate to what you’re experiencing, but are insightful and objective enough to guide you towards understanding your contribution towards your current challenges.

Important! We cannot coach someone that is not in the room. So, if your life coach is focusing on someone else’s behaviour and not dealing with yours, be very concerned. They’re stroking your ego, not helping you to recover.

4. What makes a good life coach?

According to Coach the Life Coach, the following 8 points are key attributes of a good life coach, and I agree:

  • They must be a great listener.
  • Must have an excellent ability to build rapport with their clients
  • An understanding of rapport at different levels for different types of clients is essential.
  • They must be able to formulate questions artfully and skillfully to prompt the client towards self-realisation.
  • Extended or awkward silences must not make them uncomfortable. Some life coaches feel a need to fill every gap in the discussion.
  • Being able to re-frame any event demands that they have broad experience and real life wisdom.
  • They absolutely must be passionate about helping people.

One more I would add to that is that they must be very comfortable with pushing the tough discussion and guiding their client through it. Many life coaches want to be favoured more than they want to be true to the client’s needs. For this reason, they avoid getting too contentious because they’re afraid of losing the client.

In a nutshell, these are the points that you must explore in your connect session with your life coach to determine how skilled and/or suitable they are to help you achieve your goals.

5. Affordability

You don’t always pay for what you get. The rate being charged by a life coach is not always an indication of their expertise. Like every industry, there are dubious members that have questionable ethics. This is true for life coaching as well. Don’t use the rate card of a life coach to measure their skill or expertise. As much as there is massive growth in the life coaching industry, it is still a relatively young industry, and as such, is still establishing its norms and benchmarks.

A good life coach could cost anything between R400 to R2500 per hour (US$30 to US$180). Or more. But it all depends on their client base, and their niche. Someone coaching corporate executives will obviously call a higher rate than someone coaching housewives. But even in that scenario, the rate could go quite high if the suburb is considered seriously upmarket.

The bottom line is that the only thing a rate should tell you is whether or not the life coach is affordable for you. Everything else about them must be assessed independent of their rate, especially for those that do it as a passion, and not only to make money.

6. What about NLP, CBT, and all of that?

NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), or even Hypnotherapy are simply methods that can be used in an approach to resolving issues in a life coaching scenario. Like all methods, they have their place, but they also have their limitations.

Be careful of life coaches that swear by one or the other, or take a textbook approach to responding to your questions or challenges. A sure sign to raise concern is if your life coach constantly tries prescribed methods in every session. The reason I don’t recommend taking either of these routes is because they are only effective as short term coping mechanisms, and then also, only within the context of the current state of the challenges that you face.

Once the conditions around your challenges change, or your level of self-awareness improves, the coping methods lose impact. When this happens, you’ll find yourself grappling with issues that you thought were long since resolved.

Be weary of life coaches that speak in methodologies and psycho-jargon. The human condition is not as complex as many would have us believe. A life coach that draws wisdom from the various available methods, and applies that within context in the way they guide you towards re-framing your perspectives, are the ones to seek out.

A good life coach will not teach you coping mechanisms. They will teach you how to overcome, rather than how to cope with your challenges.

Roundup

So, why would I share all this with you? I want informed clients, because informed clients add to the integrity of the industry, and they keep us honest.

Life coaches are human, although some of them may suggest that they’re super-human. Nonetheless, we make mistakes, and we have bad days. The more informed you are as a client, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to correct us on those bad days. More importantly, the more informed you are, the higher the probability of finding a life coach that is effective for you.

Remember, this is an investment in taking your life to the next level. Don’t compromise on that by looking for a life coach that is going to make you feel comfortable with where you’re at.

Follow Zaid Ismail on Sterkla Coaching App https://app.sterkla.com/coachprofile/231

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Quantum Coaching – An evolutionary step in human consciousness – Dr. Claudius van Wyk

The growing public experience of chaos in human affairs might reflect the limits of our current state of human consciousness.

As a coach you help people to think and act more effectively to reach their goals. But the challenges they face are increasingly complex and the disruptive events they need to deal with occur more frequently.

If we take a fresh view and recognize the world we live in as a complex interactive system, a living organism, then our challenge is to help our coachees achieve and sustain coherence as a part of their environment. Success requires more than step by step improvements, we need to support real transformational change.  Quantum coaching enables us to address the whole person; engaging with physical, emotional and mental process to make sense of our complex and changing world. Utilising the latest thinking in physics, neuroscience, complexity science and human development; you are invited to join us and learn how to enable biopsychosocial coherence. 

When we think about chaos in nature, it helps to consider it as an absence of effective organisation. The same might apply in human affairs. Whilst ‘chaos’ has always been a part of life, we might not have had the ability to perceive it in a way that makes sense.

Randomness

Change is exponentiated in this era where an intensification of communication is enabled by dramatic advances in technology. The near instantaneous sharing of information drawing data from media networks around the globe alerts us when situations become disorganised and consequently results in events easily interpreted as chaotic. But our greater exposure to information also offers a new perspective on the experience of chaos. The coexistence of chaos and order is now legitimized by the new science and, supported by quantum science’s recognition of the ubiquity of ‘randomness’ at the subatomic level, provides new labels for interpreting what we experience as chaos.

However this shift in awareness does invite us to reduce our expectation of the results we might typically anticipate in a perspective of a continuous cyclical mechanical world based on cause-and-effect principles. Where we might have expected that if we put the right strategy in place we would be assured of a predetermined result, now we are less certain about even having to find the right answers.

Science and certainty

The naive expectation of ready solutions to all problems was largely derived from Descartes’ description of a material world limited to the physically measurable domain; the real arena of scientific study. Newton could then offer it’s operative principles in his ground-breaking thermodynamic laws of physics. The universe functioned in fixed and predictable ways and we could comprehend its principles with precise scientific measurement described with logical syllogisms and mathematical equations. The scientific method thus brought certainty.

However, after a number of truly ground shifting discoveries Thomas Kuhn presented the notion of a paradigm shift. He observed the conflict in science with one type of physics operating according to predictable Newtonian laws, and another emerging type that contradicted predictability. Certain scientific discoveries, he proposed, fundamentally challenged a wide range of assumptions about existence. Such paradigm shifting insights now include the creative nature of evolution, relativity theory, the indeterministic quantum dynamics of energy, and its peculiar principle of non-locality, or action at a distance.

Holistic view

Ultimately a new holistic view with its own form of emergent science is seeking to address this dichotomy of the fixed Newtonian model and the indeterminism of the quantum model. Systems and complexity theory help with a new integrative whole-systems view. This provides substance to Aristotle’s notion that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts’. Reductionism, with its cause-and effect relationships, becomes fundamentally challenged; not only for its rigid linearity, but also in respect of clinging to Descartes’ ‘scientific’ materialism which insists on looking for the hard bits that make up existence.

Complexity

As such the new science now grapples with the experience of increasing complexity – and consequently this feature has implications on coaching practice. In complex situations the outcomes of activities cannot be predetermined. They emerge dependent on the complex relationships of the involved participants (variables) in any given situation. Yes, cause and effect relations do still apply in mechanical situations, but especially in human activities, outcomes are more unpredictable simply because we cannot be sure what the participants are thinking and feeling. So, when dealing with complexity we need to pay more attention to process (how things come about) and the dynamical relationships between participants. It is thus the complex dynamic relationships that constitute any living system that ultimately defines such a whole – not the individual components. That dynamic adaptive relational activity is therefore what constitutes our current world situation – described by the VUCA acronym.

Self-perpetuating patterns

Evolutionary advance through time has been a function of a series of self-perpetuating patterns where unstable disorder has emerged into ordered systems. Joseph Needham challenged Marx and Engels’ ‘dialectical materialism’ with ‘dialectical organicism’. What we tend to describe as ‘chaos’ might then very well be an accelerated process of adaptation and reorganisation in pursuit of a newer quality of emergent coherence. That is why it now becomes even more important to differentiate between simple, complicated, complex, and truly chaotic situations, and how to respond to them.

Chaordic coaching

For coaches this implies that people in need of coaching might be trying to apply cause-and-effect linear thinking to complex and even near chaotic circumstances. For example there might be a situation where someone experiences the partner as causing grief. The conclusion is that the partner’s love has ended. The simplistic solution would be separation. Effective coaching would reveal far more subtle dynamics. Another example of a problem is global warming. The conclusion would be that atmospheric carbon dioxide is the culprit. The strategy would be banning fossil fuel emissions. Closer examination again will reveal this to be simplistic with many other factors involved. This is attempting to apply linear thinking in a non-linear world. Complexity science further warns that there might be even more factors involved than we would be able to immediately identify. The implications are that we need to see the whole picture as it is emerging – the holistic view – and that means learning to carefully observe process.

Emergence and curiosity

That challenges us coaches in this era is to become curious about emergence; to find the appeal in the unknown; and to become excited about new developments and potentialities. But in so doing we will need to reduce our reliance for comfort and confidence in certainties, especially the so-called scientific absolutes of ‘best practice, and rather develop a sense of wonder at what may be. For the client we might also want to instil the view: ‘…life is not happening to you – you are co-creating it with your everyday choices moment by moment.

So we want to reduce our need of trying to find rationally based right or wrong answers in response to which we can then apply best practice. We rather want to become agile in our responses to an increasingly dynamical context. And as coaches we must now reconsider how to operationalise that in our coaching processes, especially how to better observe and detect the relevant processes and relationships.

DIKW model

That is why the DIKW model is so useful. It offers how ‘data’ is converted into ‘information’; how information becomes retained as ‘knowledge’; and how knowledge, through experience, can generates ‘wisdom’. This of course applies as much to ourselves as coaches it does to our clients. This perspective enables us to better explore a given situation to understand the client’s worldview, to establish how they are thinking, and how they comprehend the situation. To what data are they responding? How are they interpreting that information into the story are they buying into and converting into future expectations? We can then better explore their sense of competence, namely their capacity to manage what is required, and especially the meaningfulness of it.

Ultimately it is through this process of the deeper revelation of the meaning that we will help to influence both the comprehensibility and the manageability of the clients identified need. Since meaning relates to the client’s operative values system, the alignment of understanding and strategy with what is considered ultimately important will provide a greater sense of coherence for clients in this VUCA age. The meaning-making value system provides a stronger reference point for decision-making. And that helps to better navigate the vagaries of complexity to achieve more lasting outcomes.  We will explore this presently.

Chaordic principle

An insightful consideration in the long evolutionary process that has led to the current world situation is that ‘entropy’, a state of chaos or disorganisation, has been transformed through the action of integrative processes, as described in the holistic view, into ‘syntropy’. This is a new state of order, or organisation. The two states are thus co-dependent. It is from the very disorder that new order arises. That is the chaordic principle. Human thinking has followed a similar trajectory. Beliefs about the world are shaken up and new perspectives emerge, as Thomas Kuhn pointed out with the paradigm shift. We are now probably in such a process of a fundamental new paradigm shift.

The implication for coaching is that we as coaches find ourselves in the same process as our clients. We occupy this current state of disordered thinking together as we wait to catch a clearer glimpse of new emergent meaning-making patterns. The approach will then be less about the expert guiding the client, and more about facilitating a collaborative mutual exploration.

Follow Claudius van Wyk on Sterkla Coaching App https://app.sterkla.com/coachprofile/773

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Featured in SA Coaching News, South Africa’s only magazine for the coaching industry and coaching professionals. http://sacoachingnews.co.za/

Coaching (leading) in a VUCA World

2019 was a very challenging year for most, it was a year of highs and lows – made so by the increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of the current global context – now referred to as VUCA. This enormous instability has caused many to shrink into old fear driven survival patterns. Where most people are experiencing the pain of this radical change, yet not understanding the nature of it, and this is why it is more important now than ever before to lead people in understanding the nature of this change in order to re-establish hope.

Human consciousness is on the brink of a major evolution, prompted by the growing complexity of our world and the need for us to adapt not only our thinking but how we think. This is the shift from first order thinking to second order thinking, or from linear Newtonian thinking to non-linear Einsteinian thinking. It is about understanding that everything in our world, from relationships to business, economics to our environment, is all in a complex state of continual change. It is organic, these are “living systems”.

While Capitalism is crumbling due to its failure to address some significant ecological challenges such as poverty and sustainability, Socialism, partly the response to some of these failures, also has intrinsic flaws such as being an inhibitor of progress. Spiral Dynamics provides a great model for understanding the emerging synthesis of these two world views, (neither of which takes into account the growing complexity of our world), whilst incorporating nonlinear complexity thinking – this is second order thinking.

What does first order thinking look like?

First order thinking is measuring business success by focusing solely on the bottom line. It is about rewarding people for hitting their targets without understanding the impact of the often toxic behaviours we are rewarding on culture, trust and engagement. It is about manipulation in the name of getting a bigger piece of the pie, stemming from an underlying fear of lack and limitation. It is a linear pipeline mentality, the more we push in the more we get out. It is about missing the intangible value of human interaction, compassion, trust and engagement. It is about measuring productivity by how busy we are or how hard we work. It is about considering oneself a leader just because you have a leadership position, then using that position for self gain.

What does second order thinking look like?

Second order thinking is about going beyond the reductionistic and mechanistic mindset, and being present and “available” enough to tune into the subtleties of human experience. It is about holistically seeing business as living entities where engagement, trust, compassion and culture are considered some of the most vital drivers of sustainable success. It is about self reflection, understanding your natural strengths, then meaningfully collaborating with others to generate inspired and holistic solutions to real world problems. It is about realizing that leadership is dynamic and not static – sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow. And having the wisdom and sensitivity to know when, by being present enough to notice when a leadership moment opens up. It is about staying open and seeing with new eyes without overlaying past meaning on new situations. It is about tuning into our own intuitions and then acting on them. It is about holism and sustainability.

What does this all mean?

We are living through highly transformative times, the experience of which is often chaos. However from within this seeming chaos is a new emerging order, this is known as Chaordic. By understanding the nature of this current and radical change we can begin the find hope in realizing that the world is not breaking, just the world as we have known it. The good news is that as the old models and paradigms enter their final death throws, they make space for the new. And with quantum leaps in our collective thinking combined with our rapid technological advancements, I believe we will solve some of the biggest challenges facing humanity. I see a vision of the future where poverty is eradicated, access to information and education is available to everyone, and machines take over routined work allowing more time and space for meaningful human interaction, compassion and creativity.

As leaders we must embrace this shift and begin to see the emerging order through the chaos so we can lead others towards an empower future. We must prioritize the often disregarded and intangible aspects of human experience such as engagement and culture. We must prioritize the building of trust by always making the needs of others at least as important as our own, we must offer compassion where it is needed and create stability by helping people trust in their own strengths, and ultimately we must generate hope by holding an inspiring vision for ourselves and others.

Who must lead?

Each and everyone of us must lead when those leadership moments open up. Because leadership is dynamic and not static, and because we are human beings and are not perfect.

By Gavin Lund

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