Progress is about finding the best way to do the best things, and what those things actually are is like a shifting dune with new slopes and perspectives continuously being formed. By progressing to something new, the old has to be changed. And this is where the conflict can arise. Perhaps the learning environment is one of those sectors that has to undergo tremendous amounts of change when compared to other public employment.
Boston, USA, recently held a conference on “Building Learning Communities”. Top minds and professionals from the learning sector congregated here to discuss ideas and methodologies for bringing top drawer education to all. Author, change strategist, and psychologist Robert Evans was there to talk about his work in the psychology of change within learning environments.
Evans stressed that change is often met with problems because the team has an emotional investment in the way things are. Instead of focusing on the positive aspects of what change will bring, people tend to instead mourn what they will lose. This is important to remember when initiating change in any team.
The speech then went on to address how these conflicts can be either avoided or given light in positive ways. Evans noted that “Resistance to change is normal and necessary” (Mindshift), and that we must be prepared to work with it when ever we bring change to the table. Change can feel like a devaluation of the individuals methods and habits. A member of staff can work for ten years under one system and they learn the ropes in their sleep, then suddenly they have to start acting like a newbie all over again. This is stressful and difficult for any worker.
With the already strong pressures on teachers to deliver high standards with often very limited resources, asking them to reknit their daily routines and lesson plans is something for tact and understanding. As with all changes, there will be grievances and the best primary action is to enable a way for people to voice their issues in a non-judgemental and positive manner. A proper channel for complaints and suggestions must be available. This way everyone involved can focus their energy on the one point and it allows those in charge to collate everything at the same time.
Evans chooses the phrase “Constructive conflict” and it seems to fit well for a holistic democratic work environment in which all have value. Once this culture is in place, change will be easier to implement but it also involves conscious leadership in which the team truly is listened to. There then comes a point where we have to be firm and put the lines down to where conflict can and cannot go to. Change isn't often implemented without good reasoning, and it's important that the key factors of the change are not lost.
The next step for implementing change is to lay down the negotiable and non-negotiable aspects. The end result is often where the non-negotiable elements lay, and the pathway to those end results often have more flexibility. It's important to keep perspective on both sides of the change journey, giving leeway when available and if required.
Finding the correct balance between listening and applying pressure is essential. The individuals involved in change will need to be continuously reminded on the new protocols and without this, old habits will not be easy to remove. We are all just people and it's very difficult to stop doing something we have been doing for years without someone else applying pressure. On the other side of the equation, staff who feel over-managed don't feel valued and respected so it's important to give time and space during this process.
Along with all the techniques for managing change in positive ways, its important to continually remind everyone involved as to why this is necessary, what it is being done for, and how management is also implementing change alongside the staff. When it is shown to be for good reasons that everyone can understand and appreciate, the steps taken feel like positive ones. It takes effort and confidence to change effectively, but as evolution has shown, there is always room for improvement.
It was earlier this year when Google unveiled their street view of the International Space Station. As the orbit of Tiangong, an older space station, degrades and eventually plummets the object towards the surface of the earth within the next few months, perhaps it was time that Google moved on. And that they did, with this latest update to their geographic expertise in the release of a space themed maps extension. Now visitors can stroll past the solar system in new and fantastic ways thanks to this augmented reality style guide.
Thanks to the hard work of the Cassini probe, the maps include several of the icy moons and the gas giants. Alongside the classic inner planets, our very own moon, Pluto, and the ISS, the feature allows us to access these sites in new and informative detail. Cassini, the space-craft responsible for many of the outer solar system images Google are using, has recently ended its mission and is programmed to fly into Saturn to harmlessly burn up in the upper atmosphere. This kamikaze ending is intended to clean up any unwanted Earth biology that could contaminate alien worlds.
Take a look at the new feature, and explore the furthest reaches of our solar system.
A revolution in bioengineering has recently taken place with the successful transplantation of intestines grown from human stem cells. So far only tested on rats, the results show that the artificially grown internal organs function almost as well as the real thing.
Why is this important? There are several conditions which lead to the need for an intestine transplant. Perhaps the most well known is Crohn's disease, in which some varieties cause the colon to be shortened. In any case, the intestines are responsible for the uptake of nutrients from the food which has been chemically broken down in the stomach. Because of the intense acid pH of the stomach output, and the necessity to absorb the correct molecules from this, the structure of the intestine is very complex.
Stem cells, as you may know, are those cells which have not yet been biologically instructed to become one of the many specialist cells within the body. By using biochemical processes it is possible to create stem cells and then cause them to become the type of specialist cell we require. This process has been in research phases for many years, and it is a modern technology still in the testing process.
Taking this into future steps, the age of growing new organs is drawing closer. Perhaps it will not be long until human organ donation is something from the past. However, until this day finally dawns, human organ donation is the only way to help save lives if we are unfortunate enough to lose our own.
Read the scientific write-up of the new rat intestine experiment here.
Did you know that Microsoft allow you to customise your own surface pc? Have a look at how they do it.
As Paris Fashion Week flaunted its stylish event program recently, showcasing the new and old talent in miles of cat-walking and glamorous posing, Google's Paris Arts and Culture Centre had something a bit different to exhibit. Hosted by the show-stopping Stella McCartney, sustainable fashion was the theme for this cutting edge event.
Miroslava Duma's company Fashion Tech Labs (FTL) were present with their new technology. This included stem-cell leather and super-strength spider-silk textiles. Sustainable fashion is an area of research that requires extra attention, as the industry in general is still very wasteful, and requires multiple resources to maintain.
The scientific and ethical vision of FTL has incubated several sustainable clothing technologies, including electronic clothing, and recycled textiles. Big names are catching on, with Stella McCartney promoting several designer lines and retailer Adidas who have already released several products with sustainability in mind.
Cotton farming, for example, requires huge quantities of fresh water. Each plant will drink its way through enough water to quench the thirst of many people before it is harvested, Although the benefits of growing crops can outweigh their costs, in many places it simply doesn't happen this way. Alongside the cruelty involved in animal product based clothing, finding solutions to these real issues are paramount to the betterment of society.
Want to browse clothes? Visit Alternative Fruit's Wardrobe Without Borders
Rowan Blair Colver for Alternative Fruit
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