Bookmarked What is Design Thinking and how can teachers get started? (

This introductory guide to design thinking for educators lays the foundations for better problem solving and creative ideas.

Tom Barrett provides an introduction to Design Thinking. He addresses what it is, its purpose and how it can help in education.
Liked Are you a giver, taker or matcher? (

To dig deeper into reciprocity, I recommend Adam Grant’s book Give and Take.

Giving, taking, and matching are three fundamental styles of social interaction, but the lines between them aren’t hard and fast. You might find that you shift from one reciprocity style to another as you travel across different work roles and relationships. It wouldn’t be surprising if you act like a taker when negotiating your salary, a giver when mentoring someone with less experience than you, and a matcher when sharing expertise with a colleague. But evidence shows that at work, the vast majority of people develop a primary reciprocity style, which captures how they approach most of the people most of the time. And this primary style can play as much of a role in our success as hard work, talent, and luck.

~ Adam Grant

Replied to Feedback Is Oxygen For Your Ideas — Start With A Minimum Verbal Prototype by Tom (

When you share a First Verbal Prototype, you activate a feedback loop to develop your creative ideas.

Remember, the only thing worse than a bad idea is to isolate an idea from feedback for too long.

Feedback is oxygen for your ideas. It will help them grow and get stronger, starved of it, and your ideas weaken.

Tom, your discussion of the importance of oxygen has me thinking about the reverse where an idea is stripped of oxygen. I cannot help by think of scene from The Martian where the potatoes freeze to death when exposed.
Replied to The Dialogic Learning Weekly #200 (

If you have a few moments, I would be grateful to know what you value about this weekly newsletter? What resonates with you, and what impact does it have?

Congratulations Tom on #200. In regards to ‘impact, I really appreciate the way in which your newsletter creates a space to stop and reflect. As you generously share what you are doing with schools or a particular tool/strategy, it is helpful in stepping back and seeing things a little bit differently.
In Tom Barrett’s newsletter, he asked the question, who owns the learning?

This left me thinking about ownership and instead wondering about assemblages and systems.

A desiring machine is an assemblage “always in relation to the big social machines and technological machines” (Deleuze, 2004, p. 243). Language, media, literature, education and capitalism for example always orient a body towards a particular way of expressing desire, to produce a desiring subject so to speak. Desire always precedes subjectivity; subjectivity is the codification of ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ desires within a given body.

From that perspective, it feels like learning becomes about components rather than ownership. Maybe it is technology, maybe teachers, maybe heutagogy or maybe space? Maybe it is about the shock?

Learning, for Deleuze, is an experience which cannot be planned or organised, but that all learning is an event that shocks, causing some form of transformation within the body and mind of the learner.

Replied to The Dialogic Learning Weekly #177 (

Hi everyone – we made it to the end of another week. I hope you are safe and well, wherever you are in the world. Thanks to those recent subscribers who have shared feedback about the newsletter with me – it is always lovely to hear the impact these emails have on your thinking.Speaking of impact (seamless link) that is our topic for this week. The original etymology of impact dates from around 1600, “press closely into something,” from Latin impactus, past participle of impingere “to push into,

Tom, I really enjoy following your journey, as well as being inspired by the tools and techniques you share. In regards to the impact canvas, I am interested in how it might fit in regards to the culture of support I am a part of. There is a lot of talk about development and improvement, but the narrative can sometimes go missing. I wonder if the canvas would fill this need?
Bookmarked Innovation Compression – Tom Barrett’s Blog by Tom (

How might we fully appreciate the resources needed to introduce these new ideas and what they overlap with? How can we create space for people to make the most of this idea and for it to have the impact we want? Which programmes or existing innovations might be discarded to release energy and resources?

Talking about change and innovation, Tom Barrett talks about ‘innovation compression’, where the addition of new ideas weakens pre-exisiting ones but starving them of space.

When new programmes are introduced, that draw down on the finite energy and effort from those involved without stopping other parallel ideas and releasing resource reserves, we get innovation compression, and a potential weakening of the original ideas.

Therefore, when leading, we should be mindful about what we are clearing away just as much as what we are adding.

We need to lead with a deep appreciation for what is on people’s plates. We need to avoid innovation compression by clearing the way, closing existing programmes and providing people the resources they need to make things work.

It is interesting to consider this alongside Alex Quigley’s post about change in isolation.

Replied to Restart, Reframe or Recast – Tom Barrett’s Blog by Tom (

If our approach to transition is to recast, this is fundamentally different from restarting. We apply an intentional force to what we have. Reshaping it to a new form of our own design. Not simply restarting with what we had.

There has been so much discussion about the ‘new normal’, however where your post differs Tom is that it breaks down different ways of imagining this. Personally speaking, I think we are always in a state of flux, but instead choose to hold onto the regular habits as if they always mean the same thing. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb suggests in The Black Swans:

Reality is not Mediocristan, so we should learn to live with it.

My thoughts have been around restarting. I think that I inherit this from Will Richardson and his mantra to do things ‘different, not better‘. However, even when I think about Richardson’s work, much of it is about reframing education around learning. However, the more I think about it, such approaches as disciplined collaboration seem to be as much about recasting the materials that we already have in a new light.

I think that this will be one of those provocations that I will come back to regularly as it helps in making sense of the change at hand.

Liked Set Your Design Thinking Process up for Success (

On Tuesday I co-facilitated a design thinking education event with Google in Melbourne. We worked alongside 50 teachers from Catholic schools.

It got me wondering about what it takes to get the most from a design thinking (DT) process. Although my lense is for teachers and education teams, these ideas apply to anyone using the DT process.

For each idea, I have shared some links for further articles and readings to allow you to dig deeper.

Replied to The Dialogic Learning Weekly #159 (

Stumbled on this video in the link below with Brené Brown explaining her approach to sharing ideas and critique to a room of designers.
Her comments about the people and critique we should choose to pay attention to, really resonated with me. To use her language, unless you are doing the work, in the arena with me, I am not interested in your critique.

Tom, I really like the quote from Brené Brown. It left me wondering about what happens when there is nobody else doing what you are doing and who becomes your critical friend in that scenario?
Liked The Dialogic Learning Weekly #156 (

Welcome to a new decade and to the first edition of the Dialogic Learning Weekly newsletter for 2020. I want to set aside some of the normal topics I share to address the bushfires here in Australia.I know many of you don’t live here in Australia but would have seen a range of media coverage over the last few months. It is important that platforms like this newsletter help share accurate information that help you understand the reality of what is happening.It has been raining here in Melbourne ov

Bookmarked SOLO Taxonomy Question Chains – Tom Barrett’s Blog (

This is an example of a SOLO Taxonomy Question Chain. A series of connected question that explores a subconcept.

Follow each row across and you will see each question using the language and verbs associated with the SOLO Taxonomy levels.

In addition to the post looking at the different questions and verbs associated with the SOLO taxonomy, Tom Barrett provides a collection of resources associated with the topic in his newsletter.
Bookmarked The Dialogic Learning Weekly #147 (

When we sit in a circle we offer a powerful symbol that we are united and equal participants. Where it is practical, I try and start my workshops this way. I did this yesterday with teachers in a school in Sydney. After committing to some protocols, a few provocations encouraged a dialogue about teaching and learning.
In this issue I share what I am learning as I attempt to deepen, extend and abstract my experiences of dialogue. Recently I have been learning some of the indigenous origins of dialogue and how it is used within different cultures. I hope you enjoy the ideas and they get you talking.

Tom Barrett collects a number of resources on all things circles and circle time.
Replied to Reflections on Transition C – Final Thoughts – Tom Barrett’s Blog (

There are not enough blogs and teacher discussions into what is working and what doesn’t.

It is fine to have PhDs creating a body of emerging knowledge, but we also need a broader ecology of social commentary! You can tell I have been at a research conference for too long! We need more practitioners (educators and designers) talking about the studies out there and sharing that thinking.

Thank you Tom for sharing your thoughts and reflections on Transitions19 conference.

I was really taken by your comment on the need for more subjective sharing from the fields, rather than relying on PhDs. I find this interesting and think that education as a whole would benefit from more sharing. However, it feels like the reality has moved away from this.

Moving into a world of Pinterest classrooms, it would seem that less educators are willing to share their experiences and experiments.

In addition to this, some would question who benefits from such sharing? I agree that that even the worst bloggers are making use smarter and that the smartest person in the room is the room. The problem is that this may not be the prevailing ethos in schools. The issue is that this requires a systemic collaborative culture, which I do not think is present. People are instead packaging up what they think is there ‘intellectual property’ and placing it on sites like Teachers Pay Teachers. Ironically, it often technically belongs to the school and system. Otherwise, such reflections are being scrapped by consultants who collate it for branding purposes, which is also counter to the intent … in my opinion. In the end, education has become a competitive rather than a collaborative space that is far from equally distributed.

The other issue is that sharing has moved away from the open web to closed spaces, such as Facebook. This means that the smartest person on Facebook is Facebook.

Maybe I am wrong, too pessimistic. It is just my perspective in the end I guess.


Replied to 8 key pieces of research for teachers – Issue 141 – Dialogic Learning Weekly (

This article by Ryan Holiday takes a radical look at changing our phone habits – just one of many technology-centric rituals we need to keep in check.

You want to use it. Just grab it and alleviate the boredom or discomfort. Might as well check the headlines instead of struggling to type words on a blank screen. And why stay in this tense argument with your spouse when you can see what’s new on Instagram? “Hey, sorry buddy, I can’t play dinosaurs right now — I have to answer this email.”

A Radical Guide to Spending Less Time on Your Phone – When I used these strategies, I finally took back my life by Ryan Holiday.

What did you think of Ryan’s suggested strategies? Have you tried any? What have been the results?

I found Ryan Holiday’s list interesting. For example, I scrapped alerts long ago, yet I have found myself subsequently checking for updates. I think the benefit is that this is at least on my terms. These posts are a useful provocation to at least stop and reflect.

I was intrigued by another post recently discussing the humane technology movement and the point that although they are pushing against platform capitalism, they are still very much in favour of the templated self.

Bookmarked 3 Steps to Improve Your Next Workshop – Issue 136 – Dialogic Learning Weekly (

Design the workshop with rich provocations, allow time to get ensconced, respond to the needs of those in front of you.

Tom Barrett provides another useful reflection on what constitutes effective professional development. Interestingly, it is about providing the conditions, rather than all the answers.