The First Progress School Meet-up

Urban Leeds - Progress South

Urban Leeds - Progress South

Our first meeting this week was a fascinating mix of people – all of whom share an interest in the pursuit of progress.  Perhaps it is the holy grail or a unicorn – but early signs are that sharing conversations about our aspirations for progress, and our frustrations and achievements in pursuit of it can be provocative, challenging and fun!

Some of the ground we touched on:

  • the possibility of individual and collective progress
  • progressing projects
  • progressing our ‘selves’
  • sustainability and meeting the challenges of climate change
  • helping our communities to progress – should we stay or should we go now?
  • the illusion of progress and progress traps

Feedback so far has been really positive and I am looking forward to our next meet on October 21st.  Want to join us?  Just use the contact form to get in touch or leave a comment on this post.

And if you came to our first meeting please share your thoughts on the experience, and what’s next.

Special thanks to Harvinder and Dehlicatessen for providing the venue and refreshment and to Rob Greenland and Graeme Tiffany for their support and advice!


9 responses to “The First Progress School Meet-up

  1. I really enjoyed the afternoon. I’ll certainly be at the next one and hopefully will bring someone else along, though I doubt that I’ll ever want to pitch anything. I’m more interested in the ideas. For me it’s about how I inhabit my environment (Beeston specifically) authentically, creatively and productively . . . I’m not sure I’m managing to do that just yet.

    I don’t know if you managed to get along to the Paul Rooney event at Leeds Expo? It was marvelous. Part of the video was talking about the artists around Leeds School of Art in the 70’s, how some of them had invented a non-school, whose motto, translated from French, was:

    Carefree Exchange of Information and Experience.
    No students. No Teachers.
    Perfect freedom.
    At times to listen,
    At times to talk.

    That does seem an ideal that resonates with me.

  2. I really enjoyed the first session. Usually things like that take ages to warm up, as people size each other up and try to work out how much to share and how much to hold on to. But there was a real sense of generosity and trust from the start – and a good bit of listening and honest questioning and feedback going on.

    The challenge of course is to make it work again and again. I liked the way it took shape, a bit by accident and a bit by design. We had general (some would say philosophical) discussion about a topic – eg education – and then got into specifics of working on one group member’s project (eg an enterprise education project). I liked the practicality of helping someone with their project (How can we help you make progress today?) with the wider, philosophical discussion of “How can we challenge/encourage what you do/others do in this field to help society to make greater progress?

    Maybe that could be a bit of a format for the future? A theme – climate change, design for a sustainable world, youth training, education, etc – based upon the interests of group members. Then there is a philosophical discussion – and then a discussion based on one member’s project.

    I also liked the Fight Club analogy. Funny that there was an article in the Observer business section this Sunday about a Fight Club for city bankers. Sadly them hitting each other rather than us hitting them, but interesting all the same.

    Maybe Progress School could be Progress Club? It didn’t feel like a school on Wednesday – but maybe that’s a whole new discussion (led by Graeme!).

    And finally, as I said at the end to you Mike, I am usually bored by the end of three hours sat in a room. I wasn’t on Wednesday, which is a great sign.



  3. Have got Oct 21st now for next meet but at what time until when and where?

  4. Dates venue and times are here Julian
    Look forward to welcoming you….

  5. First, I enjoyed it; and there’s got to be some value in that!
    Beyond this, as someone who has worked for many years in the ‘implicitly difficult to put your finger on’ world of informal and community education, my experience of PS confirmed a long-held belief that conversation is the most powerful of all media for learning, and its subject doesn’t have to be pre-scribed (already written – in advance). Indeed, conversations are / appeared to be often more fruitful when we’re not sure where we are coming from nor where we are heading to: my ‘Celebration of Uncertainty’ thesis in a nutshell . Which is why I gave Mike a tug on the basis that, actually, you don’t have to know where progress lies; in fact, it can be ‘discovered’ through these kind of discussions.
    This said, I did think the work we did that focussed on the specific contributions of individuals, who clearly valued social scrutiny as a mechanism to help them ‘progress’, was really valuable – and not just for them – which is a key point about mutual learning: when we present ‘our stuff’ we have to have in mind that we have some responsibility to those who are trying to help us. This, then, represents the fabled ‘win-win’ scenario. Intriguingly also, what constitutes ‘progress’ for one can, and was, different for others. And this just adds diversity to the values debate and the practical turn thereafter.
    I think Rob’s right that it’s an/the ethical context of such discussions that is all important – which also makes it OK, and profitable, to talk about what we think is important (values) – which gets us then, as Rob also, I think, implies, from us to them (the wider world) … and, maybe, even away from ‘us and them’.

    • I appreciated the ‘tug’ on my being unhelpable. I think my take on it is that the not knowing is fine – as long as you are on a look out for clues. Not just drifting without enquiry and reflection.

  6. I agree. That, then, gets you into the world of ‘dispositions’, and the question of whether dispositions can be learnt / taught / caught … . Doubtless, [positive] dispositions are important and valuable.

  7. Paul bites the bullet with DYOS1… The first session of Progress School was interesting, stimulating and productive. The Bulletman was of course keen to show the DYO pilot project video commercial Design Your Own Superhero (DYOS1) – a creative learning resource for young people and teachers – where I am currently looking for TEN schools to take part in DYOS2. Feedback and ideas for progression from the group were positive and encouraging. (Thanks everyone!) Plus there was a real bonus I may add. It appears along this creative journey we may have also stumbled upon something I hadn’t anticipated from students in the projects creation. Engagement from the otherwise disengaged. Whilst Bulletpoint initially set off and created our own design brief to combine and improve skills in Art and English, to help nurture the gifted and talented – an inspiring brief to ‘design your own’ superhero (and a comic cover to go with it) – we seem to have also created a ‘space’ for emotional ‘stimulus’. The expression of loneliness, fear and personal phobias. (Thanks for spotting that one Graeme!) So perhaps the scope for this project goes way beyond secondary years 9-11, (primary is something I hope to look at in 2010), yet benefiting socially disadvantage groups with creative stimulus for conversation and more was something that would never have appeared on my own radar, without the help, support and observations of others… People with different skills, experience and vision. (Yes, we are all too close to what we do.) Project School is about learning, sharing and helping each other succeed, so I look forward to (and encourage) others who are eager to share their own stories to progress them to the next level. Finally please remember, no one ever got ahead creatively without taking risks or being afraid of being wrong, so please do take your own leap of faith and ask for some help… Ready… Fire… Aim!

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