Falconry: problem-finding, find the dissonance

Identifying problems as a way to move others takes two long-standing skills and turns them upside down. First, in the past, the best salespeople were adept at accessing information. Today, they must be skilled at curating it— sorting through the massive troves of data and presenting to others the most relevant and clarifying pieces. Second, in the past, the best salespeople were skilled at answering questions (in part because they had information their prospects lacked). Today, they must be good at asking questions— uncovering possibilities, surfacing latent issues, and finding unexpected problems. (Pink, 132 p.)

What if we simply think about the changes in history? Do the learners in our care ever experience current history lessons and learning? What about math? Are we “stuck” in an AP Calculus track for “good” math students? Do we learn enough probability and statistics? What about combinatorics or fractals and recursion?

How are we curating information? Are we teaching how to curate information and uncover possibilities? Are we striving to make connections from our discipline to the work of others? Do we model learning, curation, and connecting ideas?

Real learning, whether in the classroom or the real world, occurs when an individual takes a personal stake in solving a problem that is meaningful to him or her. The person finds a visceral, tangible difference between the world as they expect or want it to be and the world as it is. They will wrestle and prod and provoke the problem, using all of their tools and resources, until they either resolve the conflict to a point of satisfaction or just give up. Dissonance immediately leads to questioning: we ask “why,” “why not,” and “what if” until answers of satisfactory magnitude are found that either eliminate the dissonance or decrease it to a level of acceptability. (Lichtman, 104-105 p.)

Why is it so uncomfortable to linger in and embrace the struggle? Do we see struggle to learn as failure?  Do we believe that if we don’t learn it the first time, we fail? What if we encouraged learners to discuss and reflect on the struggle?

First, resist the urge to react. Nine times out of ten, we are trying to solve the wrong problem. Reaction without analysis and understanding will almost always result in an inadequate solution. It may be easy, but it won’t be right. Remember where problems come from; dissonance. Find the dissonance. (Lichtman, 116 p.)

I argue with labeling events (or people) as failures.  What if, when you fail, you try again? Isn’t this event then just a stumble?    I assume, again, that I have attention blindness and need others to help me with perspective. I agree that, while difficult, we should ask more questions before problem solving.  I aspire to dwell in problem-find analysis and questioning long enough to uncover multiple possibilities and find unexpected problems.

I aspire to listen more, question more, and learn more.

I aspire to become a falconer.


Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School. New York: IUniverse, 2008. Print.

Pink, Daniel H. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others. New York: Riverhead, 2012. Print.

[Cross posted at Experiments in Learning by Doing]

Falconry: power, influence, and persuasion jujitsu

… power leads individuals to anchor too heavily on their own vantage point, insufficiently adjusting to others’ perspective. (Pink, 72 p.)

I agree. This is really yet another call to focus on learning rather than teaching.  If I, the teacher, focus on my work and the job I do too heavily, then I may miss the fact that some in my care are not learning what I think I’m teaching.  (How many times have I been surprised about what my learners do not know?)

Sun Tzu writes: The art of war is of vital importance to the State.  It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry, which can on no account be neglected.


This means that facing challenges, both problems and opportunities, is vital to personal success.  This is the arena in which we can grow, excel, create, and expand. Without these challenges we wither. Because of this importance, it is equally vital to examine the way in which we meet the challenges by questioning our path from the outset. (Lichtman, 51 p.)

Learning is of vital importance.  How do we face the challenges of ensuring that everyone learns? How do we grow, excel, create, and expand our abilities to differentiate, enrich and intervene, so that everyone is making progress.  Can we overcome the subtle, and not so subtle, barriers in communication, expectations, confidence, and support? How do we teach learners to overcome these barriers too?

As a result, the ability to move people now depends on power’s inverse: understanding another person’s perspective, getting inside his head, and seeing the world through his eyes. (Pink, 72 p.)

Offering learners multiple ways to become aware of what is to be learned and designing experiences to lead learning and practice should enable and empower the learner to grow stronger and more confident.

I’ve been thinking a lot about power and influence.  I do not have the power to make anyone learn.  Learning is within the power and control of the learner.  I have a sphere of influence and an ability to persuade.

Think of this first principle of attunement as persuasion jujitsu: using an apparent weakness as an actual strength. Start your encounters with the assumption that you’re in a position of lower power. That will help you see the other side’s perspective more accurately, which, in turn, will help you move them. (Pink, 72 p.)

I instantly loved the phrase persuasion jujitsu.  The American Heritage Dictionary breaks down jujitsu or jujutsu as  , soft;  + jutsu, technique.

I aspire to develop persuasion jujitsu, a soft technique, when teaching and learning.  I agree that it is critical to understand the learner’s perspective.  I argue with the idea that because I was a student once, I have that understanding.  I assume that I need to walk more in the shoes of a learner in 2013 rather than reflect on the needs I had as a student long ago.

Can I model lifelong learning and openly discuss my learning with others? Can I teach persistence, risk-taking, and overcoming failure struggle if I share, question, and collaborate?

I aspire to be a positive influence. I aspire to examine the way in which I meet challenges.

I aspire to listen more, question more, and learn more.

I aspire to become a falconer.


Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School. New York: IUniverse, 2008. Print.

Pink, Daniel H. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others. New York: Riverhead, 2012. Print.

[Cross posted on Experiments in Learning by Doing.]

Falconry: value, honor, and ask questions

Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom.  Each question leads to one or more new questions or answers.  Sometimes answers are dead ends; they don’t lead anywhere.  Questions are never dead ends.  Every question has the inherent potential to lead to a new level of discovery, understanding, or creation, levels that can range from the trivial to the sublime. (Lichtman, 35 p.)

Spending today as a student-learner has been valuable and interesting.  Along with 20 of my colleagues, I spent the day learning about teaching reading using the Orton-Gillingman approach.  With zero background knowledge and no experience, I stretched to be considered in the novice category.  In other words, this was all new learning for me.  While I have heard and seen the acronym REVLOC, it had no meaning to me.  It does now.

I cannot tell you how many times today a question was asked with the preface “I’m sure this is a dumb question.” It makes me wonder…Do we not see ourselves as learners too?  Do we honor and value the questions our students have? Do we honor and value the questions we have?

The seventeenth-century British statesman, scientist, and philosopher, Francis Bacon, who advanced the idea of the scientific method, said “Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much.[emphasis added] Centuries later, one of the students quoted in this chapter made pretty much the same argument: “You can’t learn unless you ask questions. [emphasis added] Unless you ask questions, nobody knows what you are thinking or what you want to know.”

If we have asked a question about a subject or concern, we are much better attuned to the information coming back to us.  We are, therefore, more likely to retain it.  (Rothstein and Santana, 135 p.)

How do we elicit questions from the learners in the room who are not quite brave enough to risk asking a question for fear of how they will be perceived by others? What if we bright spot, value and honor questions? Can we adjust our own thinking and actions to create a community where learning is transparent?

Interrogative self-talk, the researchers say, “may inspire thoughts about autonomous or intrinsically motivated reasons to purse a goal.”  As ample research has demonstrated, people are more likely to act, and to perform well, when the motivations come from intrinsic choices rather than from extrinsic pressures.  Declarative self-talk risks bypassing one’s motivations.  Questioning self-talk elicits the reasons for doing something and reminds people that many of those reasons come from within. (Pink, 103 p.)

What if I ask more questions? Can I teach so that agitation and irritation are the same or at least aligned? What if I structure learning episodes where learners are invited/encouraged/required to ask questions? Can I teach what needs to be learned by listening to and following the path of the learners?

What can be learned if we question our way through an entire lesson? Is it possible to allow students to steer the lesson through their questions? Will listening to student questions help us diagnose, assess and chart a course in real-time? Can we lead learning by following their thinking?

Our educational systems have been constructed entirely around the goal of providing the correct answer to a question provided by an instructor or handed out on a standardized exam.  This system provides a form of valid comparison for the results of a group of students, and it provides a foundation of shared information amongst those who have followed a course of study.  Unfortunately, the real world, particularly the real world of the coming century, does not and will not work this way.  Our heroes are not defined by how well they answered canned questions or what they scored on their SATs precisely because these outcomes do not determine success in real-world situations.  The real revolution in education and training, if it comes, will be overtly switching our priority from the skills of giving answers to the skills of finding new questions. (Lichtman, pag. 35)

I argue that we will be able to teach more if we start from our students’ questions.  I’ve been told it is impossible to teach what needs to be learned from a starting point of the students’ questions.  I’ve also seen the results when brave teachers have put aside their assumptions and tried.  See the Kara Leaman’s comment on my blog.

I agree with the idea of interrogative self-talk.  How often do I prevent myself from learning, questioning, and risking by the way I reason with myself? Can I change the chatter in my head to be one who questions much, learns much, and retains much?

I assume that we are all here to learn.  We function in a learning community. We aspire to be lifelong learners.  I aspire to offer my colleagues as much grace and encouragement as I need to learn and grow. I aspire to be patient will every learner when they have questions.

Can I grow into an irritant-agitator practicing the art of questioning?

I aspire to value, honor, and encourage questions from learners.

I aspire to listen more, question more, and learn more.

I aspire to become a falconer.


Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School. New York: IUniverse, 2008. Print.

Pink, Daniel H. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others. New York: Riverhead, 2012. Print.

Rothstein, Dan, and Luz Santana. Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education, 2011. Print.

[Cross posted on Flourish.]

Falconry: Seeking balance between agitation and irritation

Reading from Step 0: Preparation of The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School.

The excitement of learning, the compelling personal drive to take one more step on the path towards wisdom, comes when we try to solve a problem we want to solve, when we want to solve, when we see a challenge and say yes, I can meet it.  Great teachers lead us just far enough down a path so we can challenge for ourselves. They provide us just enough insight so we can work toward a solution that makes us, makes me want to jump up and shout out the solution to the world, makes me want to step to the next higher level. Great teachers somehow make us want to ask the questions that they want us to answer, overcome the challenge that they, because they are our teacher, believe we need to overcome. (Lichtman, 20 pag.)

Wow! Worth repeating:

Great teachers lead us just far enough down a path so we can challenge for ourselves.

This connects, for me, to Chapter 2. Entrepreneurship, Elasticity, and Ed-Med of To Sell is Human: The Suprising Truth About Moving Others.

Ferlazzo makes a distinction between “irritation” and “agitation.” Irritation, he says, is “challenging people to do something that we want them to do.” By contrast, “agitation is challenging them to do something that they want to do.” (Pink, 40 pag.)

Pink goes on to write that Larry Ferlazzo discovered that irritation does not work in the long run, but can have success in the short-term.

I’m wondering how the art of questioning might help us blend agitation and irritation.  How might we begin to plan, design, and implement learning episodes that achieve short-term goals while supporting long-term goals too? Where and when do we focus and plan, intentionally, for the progression and depth of learning? How are we taking action to ensure vertical alignment of curriculum, assessment of progress/growth/disposition/learning, and authentic learning experiences that motivate learners to challenge themselves to a next step on the path of wisdom?

Do we see schooling as a marathon rather than a sprint? Do we know enough about the distance covered by learners and the many paths to success? We are evolving experts on the stretch we cover with each learner, but do we know about the paths taken to arrive to us and the paths they may take when they move on?

I agree with Larry Ferlazzo that teaching something we want others to do is only successful in the short-term.  How often have I been surprised when learners don’t know something that was proven learning just weeks ago?

I argue with myself, quite often, that I must see the bigger picture.  I need to know more than I know now.  It is comfortable to be good at what I do. It is important to me to be successful.  I argue with myself to push to know, risk, experiment, and do more for and with learners.

I aspire to be a teacher-learner who is more often an agitator than an irritant.  I aspire to be a teacher-learner offering choice and opportunities to learn where the path is chosen by the learner.

The assumption I worry about is that we feel that we do enough of this already.  I argue in support of the idea that we do offer student choice, that we have some vertical understanding, and that we offer challenges that inspire, motivate, and support learning.  I agree that we must blend and balance short and long-term goals.  I aspire to become a better agitator (and irritant).

I aspire to listening more, question more, and learn more.

I aspire to become a falconer.


Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School. New York: IUniverse, 2008. Print.

Pink, Daniel H. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others. New York: Riverhead, 2012. Print.

[Cross posted on Experiments in Learning by Doing.]

Summer reading and reflection – a way to Flourish together when apart

Flourish, our community learning blog, will transition for the summer.  We will continue to reflect on what we are learning as we rest, relax and refresh over the summer months.  We will not have a schedule to our posts just as we have no schedule at school.  We will read and reflect when we choose.

As a starting point, we will use our summer reading, shown below, as a common starting place.  As we read, we share our notes and thinking. The theme of our summer reading is the art of questioning.

Summer Reading 2013.pdf by Jill Gough

Our version of the 4 As protocol worksheet will be used to discuss these books in the fall.

4As Protocol Worksheet

We will use the book titles as categories for posts and the As as tags.

Our posts this summer are not restricted to our summer reading; it is just a place to start. We learn, grow and flourish in many ways.