Wednesday 1 August 2012

Biofocusing and educational coaching in South Africa

The definition of educational coaching hasn't yet been nailed down to any one statement, and the applications thereof are varied, ranging from leveling the playing fields in education for the disadvantaged and disabled to assisting instructional interaction in institutionalised ways.

These are very useful activities and they assume that formal education in a given context works.

Here in South Africa formal education has long lost any ability to create a coherent national consciousness.
"Education has always been a handmaiden for the politicians," said the Scottish school inspector, sitting on the table, swinging his legs, during a seminar I attended in Cape Town in 1983. So perhaps one shouldn't be too hard on Zuma's folly, Angie "textbook" Motshega or any of the other political leaders. Instead of disparaging the politicians, one might look for strong educational leadership. Not commentators, just, but those who are actually in the lecture-halls, classrooms or institutional management offices. And definitely not the departmental minions who are more interested in self-serving reputation than reality.

Every forty minutes I face another group of thirty-five human phenomena. They come and go in cycles of eight periods over eight days. We talk, we open a few books, we write. We actually achieve very little other than a shaky relationship the evidence of which is that typical handwave when we pass in town. That's the formal outcome.The non-formal (better word than informal) dynamic goes further: I put just enough weight on the trap-doors of their alarmed awareness, so that when the anticipated intensity of alarm occurs and the door plunges helplessly down, the words and ideas that will help will be remembered and used to regain a stable place to stand, and try again. This, maybe in thirty years when one of them picks the final fight with the spouse. Perhaps in twenty-eight years, for another, when the child doesn't come home, ever.

But for now, they wait for their time lines to bring them, urgently, to social events, break-time, cell-phone time, and the king of them all, rugby-time. This is reality. If I stood on my head and sang to them, it would hardly be worth a passing glance.

What I'm saying is that with one foot in the world of the university, another foot in senior school, and yet another foot in coaching, the best place to put a foot is in entrepreneurship, here in South Africa. Meaningful work, personal energy and money don't separate easily in my understanding. These things don't come together in schools. They come together in a world where survival is not a given unless you're working for real.

So what does it mean to work for real? First, you have to sort your mind, so that you know what a real platform for your work is, then you join (or create) that platform, then you make sure the platform and your work make economic sense, especially in the short term, and definitely in the long term, although you will probably have to change platforms, and probably even stations, to keep up with the pace of change. To do all this you will need to train your emotions, thinking patterns and decisive strengths to realize your purposes. If you're any good at leading yourself, you may soon find yourself leading others. And this isn't just for young people, it's for people of any age. Burt Goldman who sends me emails encouraging me to do quantum jumping claims he's at his best, now, in his eighties. I'm still checking quantum jumping, but I think he's right about not stopping, ever.

When I coach in respect of education, using the motivating force of biofocusing, the first simple message is "take charge of your own life, all of it". If you ask "how do I do that?", I don't think I can help you. But if your first question is "okay, check, now what do I learn?" you're well on the way.

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