Captain's Log Issue #84 - An Interlude
Julian Stodd, September 2019

This edition of the newsletter will be short: my father’s funeral is today, and this was written on Friday, at the end of a busy week. I am giving myself permission to be kind to myself. I have a few pieces that I wanted to share, but I also wanted to finish the week on time, so that I could focus on the eulogy that I needed to write at the weekend.

My Writing

Measuring Apples

I’ve only written two pieces in the last week, this first one is a continuation of the writing for the Learning Science module of the Modern Learning Capability Programme, and concerns qualitative and quantitative measurement.

Prototyping Podcasts

This second piece was simply to share the podcasts: I’ve just finished recording the final one of the series of six that make up the prototype series. I am, overall, pleased with how these have worked out, and already have plans in place for the next iteration.

This first series comprises me reading out a particular blog post, but adding context to the work, and explaining the foundations of my thinking, and how it has evolved since then.

For the next series, I will have someone else read the post, and will also add in some interviews.

The remaining three podcasts in this first series will be released over the next three Thursdays, and you can find them here:

What I’m Reading

I’ve read two books this week, both by Catrina Davies.

'Homesick' provides a narrative on two levels: on the one hand, it’s a conversation about structural inequality, driven by home ownership, and on the other, it’s a personal narrative around moving out of a terrible shared house, to live in a shed, illegally.

It’s a charming, poignant, book, which provided an easy read, but got me thinking. In particular, thinking about kindness, and community.

On the back of that, I bought and devoured her first book, ‘Ribbons are for Fearlessness’, about an epic busking trip to see the midnight sun, with a battered old van, and a disintegrating cello. I read it as a book about bravery: partly the bravery of youth, and partly the bravery that builds wisdom. I would never have the bravery to leave without some safety net, so it’s a timely reminder that security is illusory, and sometimes, to write a great story of your life, you have to jump.

In The News

Ghost Towns

This piece, which provides a view of failed social networks, is a tour through deserted landscapes: I invested time in a number of these, only to walk away one day and leave the pages gathering digital dust.

It’s a timely reminder that those things that feel settled, permanent, forever, may prove to be simply leaves blowing in the wind.

#WorkingOutLoud on the Certifications

I’ve made very strong progress on the Learning Science module for the Modern Learning Capability Programme over the last two weeks. I’m starting by writing the accompanying Guidebook, and the draft text is now over 15k words, which is really longer than I had intended, but gives me confidence that there is enough material for the module!

I also started work on the actual module design: my first cohort will take part in a shortened version of the full work, spanning six months and six modules, starting in October. I feel ready for the start, but still somewhat daunted by the volume of work to be completed for two of the core pieces. But progress nonetheless!

You can read the pieces I’ve shared so far here:

At the heart of the Learning Science module is space for delegates to draft, and redraw, their individual maps of learning. This is mine, but bear in mind it’s the fifth iteration of this that I have sketched this year.

That is really the point: learning facts is about knowledge. Finding meaning is a more fluid process, and held often in our ability to change our views, and move our frame.

What I'm Thinking About

I have completed the manuscript for the Apollo book! Everything, that is, except for the title... 

It will probably be called ‘Apollo: Leadership Lessons from the Space Race’, but an alternative title will be ‘Apollo at 50: A Social Leadership Reflection’.

The text is around 11k words, so slightly over the 10k I look for in the Social Age Guidebooks, but close enough.

I have found this Guidebook format to be liberating: they are short enough to write fast, and disposable enough that I am unafraid to be wrong. And I hope they will also give me a filtering mechanism for new ideas beyond the blog.

I often describe the blog as my ‘first reflective space’ e.g. it’s almost conversational: I share work there that flies, and some work that dies. 

The Guidebooks provide a more intricate second reflective space: for example, over 2.5k people downloaded the Social Learning Guidebook in the first few weeks, providing me with considerable feedback. And also the chance to feel good about it, which is not something that should be underestimated as valuable!

Anyway: I can’t wait to get the Apollo book out, because a book only lives when it is set free.

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Copyright © 2019 Julian Stodd, All rights reserved.

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