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Learning Journeys


In 2008, I was sitting in a meeting of educators in the field of sports development. They had received some funding to create a learning resource for their students.They wanted to make a CD ROM about thosewho were exceptional in the field of sports and sports development, in order toinspire their students to make the most of their opportunities in university.

In 2008, I was sitting in a meeting ofeducators in the field of sports development. They had received some funding tocreate a learning resource for their students. They wanted to make a CD ROMabout those who were exceptional in the field of sports and sports development,in order to inspire their students to make the most of their opportunities inuniversity.

During the meeting they were discussing whoknew which celebrities and who could get an interview with which elite athlete.And I was wondering whether they were looking for external support when theinformation they wanted might be readily available right here, right now. So Iinterrupted the meeting, asking, “Can I just check? Did you make the most of yourtime at university? Are you an example of the behaviours you’d like to havefrom your students?” Most of them said, “Yes”. So I then asked them, in turn, “What, or who was it that inspired you?”

“Oh, it was mygrandfather… He’s a dockworker and he believes passionately in education foreveryone. It was our duty as workers to make sure we were all educated anddidn’t waste a single opportunity.”
“For me, it wasjust financial. To take three years out of work to study meant a big cut in ourliving standards for me, my wife and our family. I needed to make the most ofit.”

And so the meeting went on. We discoveredthat although each person was passionate about sports development, not one ofthem had been inspired by a successful person in this field.

So we put the video project on hold and setup a Clean Interviewing project where we interviewed a wide range of graduateswho had reached or exceeded their expectations at university. We uncovered theeight factors that had made an important difference to them. These were howthey:

  • set goals
  • worked at their best
  • overcame setbacks and challenges
  • became inspired and motivated 
  • made key decisions
  • managed time

And what they:

  • wished they had paid attention to in the past
  • can do now

Then we took these themes and interviewedthe elite sportspeople who’d already been booked – including English HockeyCaptain, KateRichardson-Walsh  and Britain’s mostsuccessful gymnast, BethTweddle, to find out what had motivated and inspired them. Talking aboutsetbacks and challenges, Beth said:

“You can’tchange anything that’s already happened, so why not do something to make itbetter – look for the silver lining.”

Students and learners of all ages can watchthis CD ROM, learn from these successful athletes and apply the same models totheir own thinking and their own lives.

The Learning Journeys CD ROM is now back onsale and you can purchase a copy here.

About Caitlin Walker

Caitlin Walker's avatar

Caitlin is a director of Clean Learning and the developer of Systemic Modelling™. She is the author of From Contempt to Curiosity, which details many of the innovative and transformational projects she’s led across our community from the most dispossessed to leading think tanks.

Caitlin graduated in Linguistics at the School of Oriental and African Studies and completed four years post graduate research in ‘Strategies for Lexical access’ including fieldwork in Ghana. She began modelling teaching and learning while at SOAS, volunteering intermediary classes to translate information presented at lectures into different learning styles for the students. At the same time she was a youth worker in Kings Cross bringing these leading edge tools to groups of young people.

She went on to set up literacy clubs in King’s Cross, where children could come to learn to spell. From 1996 – 1999 Caitlin was an Education tutor with the Dalston Youth Project, a Home Office run experiment to offer accelerated learning to at-risk students, alongside mentoring, to keep them in school. She ran these sessions as NLP modelling workshops and achieved excellent results with the students. The project won a Crime Prevention and Community Safety award for Great Britain. In 1999 she was offered the opportunity to develop her work in a business context and she created the ground breaking metaphors@work process. These techniques are available on the Creative Management section of the Open University MBA program and on a 10 week modular course on Practical Thinking. She has co-designed and she co-delivers a Masters Level module in Coaching and Mentoring at Liverpool John Moores University.

She has since developed her modelling skills from small scale group development to whole scale organisational culture change programmes. She designs and delivers tailor made learning and development programs for addressing diversity, conflict, leadership, managing mergers and creating ‘learning organisations’.

Caitlin practices in a variety of contexts. Clients include: Jeyes Group, Liverpool John Moores University, Pharmacia, Hull City Council, South Yorkshire Police Service, Bexley Care Trust, New Information Paradigms, Work Directions UK, Crime Concern, BT, Police National Search Centre, Celerent Consultancy, Carbon Partners, Ealing LEA, and Working Links. She has trained a number of in-house trainers to carry on and develop the work without creating dependency on her expertise. She has systematically tested and developed her ideas in challenging arenas and her robust products have become sought after learning aids.

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