Emergent Thinkers 2020 reflections

2020 is the year coined as ‘one to forget but all will remember’ – challenge, distress, grief and pressure, alongside resilience, adaptability, compassion and dedication.
As Christmas day draws nearer, I reflect on the key themes of the second round of seasons of ‘Emergent Thinkers.com’ – change agency, sustainability, entrepreneurship & philosophical thinking, with a portion afforded to life in ‘lockdown’. My top 8 themes follow:

1. Professional Challenge with Harmonious Values

‘Voice and Positive Challenge’ carried-forward from 2019. Building on my networks of the ‘Be More Pirate’ crew, ideas turned into action. Recruiting like-minded support, my education pirates drew attention to the need for resilient, creative, and inter-generational change through professional, collaborative and constructive interactions. As shared at Nexus+developing agency, voice and advocacy within higher education, for students, staff and communities are important. With shared captaincy with Professor David A Kirby of the new ‘Harmonious Entrepreneurship Society‘, my pirate story evolves, intending to circumnavigate and integrate all various approaches to entrepreneurship, in accordance with Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety.

To speak means…to assume a culture, to support the weight of a civilisation – Frantz Fanon

2. Championing Entrepreneurship

In January I joined the steering group of the Erasmus+ funded multi-country ‘EntreCompEdu’ project as part of ‘[The fireflies delivering EntreCompEdu]’, a magnificent opportunity to contribute to the development and piloting of a global online CPD project targeting educator entrepreneurial competence. Despite 2020 fast morphing into a scary and frustrating space, I was able to support fellow educators with their transition to online and take joy working alongside the teachers who embraced the opportunity to engage in entrepreneurial development. I routinely shared the journey of the now globally recognised Dafen Primary School, who through ‘EntreCompEdu’, spotted the opportunity to fast-track their adaptation to the new Curriculum for Wales, culminating in a personal 2020 highlight -their online graduation celebration. A resilient team who have showcased their learning through regular Innovation Days, and the recent whole-school staff and pupil entrepreneurial extravaganza for Global Entrepreneurship Week! As reported in EntreCompEdu Pioneer School ‘Into Action’ for GEW2020. Entrepreneurship robustly prepares learners for life beyond educational institutions in all contexts and challenges.

Adaptation is a profound process. It means you figure out how to thrive in the world – John Laroche

3. Inspirational interviewees

Covid prove no obstacle to spending time with dynamic, inspirational characters, who openly shared their principles, values and experience. ‘The mind behind…’ 2020 series focused on role model contributors to entrepreneurship: Gay Haskin [Kindness & Support], Dr Kelly Smith [Curious & Reflective], Professor David A. Kirby [Entrepreneurial Mindset Education], Dr Colin Jones [Authentic] and Dr Simon Brown [Pragmatic & Innovative]. I also reported on the ‘Reimaging our Futures‘ webinar series hosted by the Societal Innovation and Enterprise Forum (SIEF), celebrating Professor Allan Gibb’s legacy in the field of Entrepreneurship and Small Business.

As we learn about each other, so we learn about ourselves — William Hartnell

4. Sustainability

As 2019 closed, I pledged to continue to work to embed sustainable philosophies and techniques across my professional curriculum and research, that the Harmony principles based on Complexity, Chaos Theory and Systems Thinking would continue to inform my doctoral, projects and academic focus. I embraced the start of the year with a personal ‘telos‘. Looking back, it was eerily ‘premonitic’ for the year that would evolve before our eyes. one forcing a review and heightened respect and responsibility for the state of the planet. I contributed to home-based, school-wide and global projects making use of entrepreneurial competence to focus on the address of the Sustainable Development Goals. Some of this work and networking seeded the founding of the ‘Harmonious Entrepreneurship Society’.

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect – Chief Seattle, 1854

5. Philosophy, Phenomenology & Wonder

As my doctorate progressed, I shared thoughts on the utility of philosophical thinking. Hermeneutic Phenomenology and the concept of Wonder, a means to deconstruct a way to understanding things, transporting to new places in heart, mind and spirit. It became my antidote to the covid-amplified ‘plugged in’ state, and my way to turn to the personal and relational dimensions of teaching-learning and interacting as explained in [I spy with my little eye…something to do with ‘being]. I missed out on a trip to a Danish castle through my research on phenomenology in a networked learning context yet the online conference still brokered depthful new relationships, both global and close to home. In the summer, I broke news of the hanfod.NL project with Dr Mike Johnson which aims to build a community of phenomenological enquiry within networked learning. We continue planning for a safe HNL21 event (June 2021) in Cardiff, featuring a great line-up including phenomenologist Professor Catherine Adams.

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed – Albert Einstein

6. Vlogging as Authentic Assessment

Championing ‘vlogging’ as a credible authentic assessment continued, the research sharing picking up pace as we hit lockdown, and the world flipped to virtual working and learning. As captured in ‘The vlog: a key tool for business education in crises’ many from all contexts were called on during the pandemic context to communicate confidently, authentically, and with authority. I shared my best practice and guidance with various institutions and was excited to be included in the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) recommendations for distance and online teaching. New developments here to be revealed in early 2021.

The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are – Joseph Campbell

7. Personal stories

A love for stories and pathic writing, linked to both my personal and research philosophy I shared some very personal moments. I sent my youngest off to part-time nursery in ‘Temporality and the gingham dress’, documented the challenges of ‘covid-context working from home whilst homeschooling’ in ‘A Dahlesque COVID-19 state of mind‘, and strategies adopted to regain balance in ‘Too many tabs open‘ and help from Gwyn Thomas with Motivational Maps. I also enjoyed time with leadership coach, Kevin Watson, contributing to the ‘Words Matter’ podcast series.

Stories … protect us from chaos, and maybe that’s what we, unblinkered at the end of the 20th century, find ourselves craving – Bill Buford

8. Second-anniversary visuals

Finally, back in September, celebrating Emergent Thinkers’ two years, and reaching out to 119 countries (now 125). I indulged (with the help from the talented Vanessa Randel of thinkingvisually) in new visuals. Vanessa continues to contribute beautiful images to my various projects.

We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand – C.S. Lewis

I thank everyone for their support, encouragement and contribution this year, highlighting wonderful collaborations with Paul Ranson, Dr. Mike Johnson & Professor David A. Kirby. I have enjoyed engaging with the Networked Learning Consortium and my Malaysian colleagues, and motivated by those who share an entrepreneurial and harmonious vision for the future – the International Institute for Creative Entrepreneurial Development (Kath Penaluna, you rock!), The Harmony Institute, The Harmony Project, Cymbrogi Futures and Circklo.

So I wish you all a peaceful, safe and happy ‘sustainable’ festive period.

Warm thanks to all my contributors, interviewees, networks, colleagues, doctoral supervisors, followers, learners and community, for all your support and comments across the media platforms this year.
I continue to live with grief for my Dad, two years passed, seeking his spiritual presence and inspiration. 2020 has further illuminated our need for each other, and the preciousness and fragility of life – thus a special call-out to my family, husband, children, mother, and friends, both established and new, who walk the daily journey with me.


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