The Box Theory of Communication

When it comes to passing on information I believe there are two types of people; those that can talk and those that can show. While they are not mutually exclusive, but usually a person is better at one than the other. So what does this have to do with boxes?

The Box Theory Explained

The Box Theory is how you can determine in which category a person falls. Imagine this, a person is presented with a box and are asked, how do I open this? Your target (victim) will either tell you or show you. Think for a moment about yourself, what do you prefer to do? When someone asks you something, is it easier to tell or to show?

While neither has benefits over the other, understanding how a person likes to explain things can go a long way in better communication; especially if you are the opposite. If you like people to explain things verbally, having someone show you might appear demeaning. However understanding that this is just the way that person operates, you know there is nothing sordid behind what they are doing. They are just conveying the information in the best possible way they know how.

I feel that understanding this can have further benefits in many instances; for example, during a job interview. Not everyone is comfortable with a sit down talking interview. Many people think better on their feet, and walking through an environment can give them the chance to show you something rather than just talking about it. A perfect interview should have a mix of the two, as an ideal candidate would be relatively balanced.

Understanding in which category you fall gives you the opportunity to improve. Are you the person that can brilliantly explain what object A is and what it does, but the moment you need to demonstrate you’re all thumbs? Or, are you the person who built object A, but when asked to explain how you did it your eyeballs roll back and your tongue falls out?

The key is practice, understand which type you are and practice the opposite. Personally I’m a big shower, but I’m taking steps to improve on my verbal communication skills. I start with a simple task and work my way up. Something easy, like opening a box…

There are times when both forms of communication are needed and the more balanced you are the better results you will have.

Feature Image: Project365-Day21 by Farouq Taj (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A Short Guide to Plan Anything and Achieve Results

Having a plan, regardless of how simple, can be a massive time saver. How many times have you had a job to do, but instead of getting on with it, you find yourself staring at it waiting for inspiration to strike? Only to eventually give up and see what Netflix has waiting for you? If your reading this, then I guess this may be the case. Hopefully some of the simple ideas that I use every day can help you.

The Perfect Time to Plan

Picking a time to plan is a personal choice. I find that the best time is when your mind is at rest. I like the quite of the morning, but if my day hasn’t gone as planned I will create one before going to sleep. When failure happens, it’s best not to dwell on it, as only fools get things right the first time every time. Failure occurs due to a poorly made plan. When this happens you need to reassess if the plan was actually achievable and start again.

Steps to Planning Success

  • Set the Goal

A goal can be anything, but it will be nothing unless it is defined. What is it? What needs to be done? You can call it different things, such as a task or an achievement, but I find that goal suits better as it reflects an idea of something tangible. Try to make the goal as simple as possible, if you can’t fit it into one short sentence then it may be too complex.

  • Break it into Smaller Parts

Even though a goal may be simple, it could still be herculean in scope. In this stage examine if the goal can be broken down into smaller parts. This step is pivotal if the goal has already failed to be completed once before.

  • Set a Time for Completion

Give the task a time frame. This step can be difficult if you are not aware of how long things can take. If it is the first time you are completing a task, set a timer and see how much can be achieved in a given time. I find that thirty minutes is a solid block to start. Once you are aware of how fast you work, you can begin to set more reasonable times. Timing your work is also beneficial in self evaluation.

  • Reward Yourself

Everyone loves getting a pat on the back. If you achieved your results then you deserve something for it! Self-rewarding is a valuable part of slaying the procrastination beast that dwells inside us all. Eventually you will see sitting down for a bit of Netflix (or what ever feeds the beast) as the reward, instead of the distraction. Just make sure the reward fits the task, so no trips to Paris for cleaning out the car!

Working With Others

It is very easy to let yourself down and not get that thing done. Having others that rely on your input can be a brilliant motivator and can be the flint that lights the fire. Collaboration comes in many forms and you don’t necessarily need to work with people, find an online group that you can share your work with. Support from peers can lead to dramatic swings in achievement.

Keep on Trucking

Best of all don’t get down on yourself if you fail the meet your goals. Review the plan and have another go!

Feature Image: Jetty Sunset by Lenny K Photography (CC BY 2.0)

Repaying the Uni Debt

I have a university debt and I work full-time. With the current cost of living, I need to work full time or I can not help support my family. I am lucky that my partner works in a well paying job. However with the lowering of the threshold to repay a HECS debt from $55000 to $42000 I will have to start paying back the government. But my university education has nothing to do with the work that I am doing, in fact I don’t even need it for my current role, but I do need it to get a better position. Why is this not taken into consideration? Why is the payback system not for after study and only when working within the field of study?

In this country, being university educated is expected by many employers, and I’d argue not as a mark of intelligence but more as a sign of dedication and willingness to achieve. Even basic jobs are being advertised as needing to have a university education. There was a time when you could work for a few years before earning over the threshold, but now it seems that the government wants to get it hands on ‘its’ money as soon as a graduate starts to work. How is this fair? It’s like life giving you a break, you can finally let out that breath that was held tight as you lived with six others in a two bedroom unit and now you have some money in he bank and along comes the government to kick you back into place! Why are we not rewarding people who pass and graduate? Do they not pay a higher tax because they earn more already? You can’t keep handing out tax cuts without getting it back somewhere, but this is looking in the wrong part of the room.

Any cuts to funding, can be seen as a sign to lower the university attendance rate. If someone does not attend then there is no debt, the government is just trying to force the vulnerable population, those on lower income, into submission. You will go out and work! No study for you!

I feel that having an education is fast becoming a privilege rather than a right. We need an educated population it is the only way to avoid our own destruction, political and environmental. Just look at what is happening in the current political climate. Don’t let Australia become a country full of mushrooms! Education doesn’t need to be free, but give us a chance!

 

Finding Something to Write About

Bulb – Trish

All discussion is the prequel to inference…

One of the biggest challenges that arrive with having a blog is finding meaningful content to write about. Previously, I wrote a short post that contained a timeline of potential blog post titles and in the time that it took to write it, about an hour and a half, I came up with many ideas. Some may flesh out and gain life on this blog, others may not, but it did provide a loaded springboard that could be used when the urge to write struck. In coming up with the ideas for the timeline I used two main questions; what do I want to learn more about and what am I interested in? Another possible question to ask yourself is; how can I help others? However, sometimes sitting in front of a screen is not the best method for extracting the creative juices. Many times I have sat down with  nothing more than a proverbial wall to smack my head against, get frustrated and give up, but there are ways around the problem of and idea drought.

To The CuckooRay Sadler

It is best to remember that ideas can occur at any time, and they usually occur when we are the least prepared, like driving or in the shower and so on. To capture these you need to have the tools at hand. If you are a dreamer have a pen and paper next to where you sleep; while driving have a voice recorder ready to go at all times; the shower is tricky, a water proof sharpie and write on the tiles? The point I’m getting at is you need to have some form of recording implement ready for when the muse slaps you on the back of the head and then darts back into her cave. Whatever your method, don’t rely on your memory as it will often not capture your passion when the idea first forms.

Other means of coming up with ideas include:

  • Reading the paper and highlighting particular stories that you feel you could comment on. This may take the form of criticism, comments, opinion or a more in depth look at a certain topic. Most newspapers are set out so that at least something on the page will appeal to the reader, skin through a select, then go back over it in more detail. Sometimes the smallest stories lead to a bigger one.
  • Facebook can be a gold mine for ideas. When someone makes a comment that is of particular interest to you instead of replying write your answer up as a blog post, but be sure to balance out you opinion so it doesn’t come across as too one sided. Recently I used this technique to write a story about saying ‘Happy Holidays’ at christmas. This is something I have strong ideas about and I didn’t wish to ‘unload’ at my mates on FB.
  • Twitter is another excellent source, probably more so than Facebook, for picking up blogging stems. Make sure you are following people that have similar interests and be ready to latch on to ideas and bust out that 140 characters into a sweet 1k blog post.
  • Study your interests and write about your experiences. I love reading YA (young adult genre) and I spend probably more than too much money on the procurement of books, but when it comes to finding a new author the world of the web can be some what lacking. Why wait for someone else to do it? Blogs are easy enough and the research is already being done when I go looking, why not help others that may be in a similar situation? The bonus is that I get something to blog about as well. Take your own hobby and explore it in more detail, you may be surprised what is out there.

One last resource is to have drafts ready that may be nothing more than a title and a brief description, something that can be built upon later. No one ever need to see drafts and you can add them or delete at anytime. It is a perfect tool to use when you have an idea but not enough time or research completed to fully flesh it out into a coherent post (currently I have seven stub drafts just waiting to get their wings).

I really hope this post has given you some new and interesting ways of finding ideas and subject to blog about, it was a part of a self learning exercise; if it any way helps others, then that’s awesome as well.

 

Developing Divergent Identities on Socials

People are akin to a strand of copper wire; until you open them up you can’t know what is hidden under that plastic exterior.

wires
Cable Confusion – Eric (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Some people have centralist ideologies based around one main interest, but many are divergent and can’t be defined to form fit into standard ideals. I have always hated how some people feel the need to box you. They make an early judgement put you in a place and that is where you sit forever and no manner of accomplishment can shift you from this shelf; you will always be oh that person. Even worse though, as there can be an expectation of being an expert in this box they have you sealed up inside. Although it can be maddening, this personality trait can be used to your advantage especially when it comes to promoting yourself online.

One of the main components people look for when following someone online, especially with an unknown, is being consistent. For someone that has many different interests and even some that may contradict themselves, such as I enjoy novels and their film adaptions, I’m fine with dog and cats living together, but probably worst of all… Star Wars and Star Trek!

When you follow many different interests the feed can become confusing and hard to compile the individual stream into a coherent message. This can lead to missing information or worse believing something that is false to be fact. It was this type of misinformation that may have resulted in people voting certain ways in the recent US election.  It seems highly plausible that fake news was just more appealing, that it made the unaware share and promote them as though they were factual and therefore perpetuating the problem. If messages were received from one stream of collaborated consciousness it would have been easier to spot the anomalous fake message. After all it is easier to spot an orange in a bowl of apples rather than a blended smoothie.

apple-orange
Apple Puzzle – Salvatore Gerace (CC BY-SA 2.0)

To combat this, I am planning on splitting my socials into categories, and each will follow proponents of particular interests. If I pick four or five main interests, it will be easier to disseminate information and hopefully lower follower loss due to inadvertent unwanted information being provided. In the need to find work I really don’t feel that it is more beneficial to be a generalist reporter, as most fit into a category, such as: political, entertainment or scientific. While it is good to be able to provide employers with a sense of an ability to write and produce content on varied topics, I figure that having one group of social accounts themed to produce content on one major theme is the better way to get notice, rather than the scatter shot approach.

For the moment my main account will focus on my writing, which can include most of my content pieces as, despite the topic, they would all fall under a creative writing theme; these posts will be focused on the writing of the article rather than the content. In the not too distant future I hope to include new blogs and twitter accounts for my other interests.

 

Freddy’s coming for you… CCTV Surveillance in Schools

The main justification for installing CCTVs is to protect children… (Perry-Hazan and Birnhack 2016, p.423)

Currently in Australia, cameras are not allowed inside the class room. However, they are used in the school grounds and surrounding areas. Having the cameras outside a person may note that it is more for security of the buildings and to potentially scare off those whom wish to harm the students; but a camera in the classroom? Surely the sole purpose of that is to watch the children and that’s abhorrent and a breach of civil rights!

During actual teaching hours, a teacher is largely unmonitored and it can be difficult to get feedback on how to improve and become better teachers. It might be hard to believe but teachers want to teach, and they want to teach well. After three – four years of study it might be a little daunting to be thrown into a ravenous pit of eleven year olds with nothing more that a few weeks of practice. Any way that a teacher can review their own work is surely for the good of the school body.

 

In this video teachers discuss ways in which the surveillance of the classroom has helped in their ability to teach, ranging from self-assessment, picking up when students are not engaging with the teaching; all this with the added bonus that if a teacher so wishes they can review the footage together, and nut out problems as a team. It’s just one way to take a bit of the pressure off from the teaching staff.

 

Other benefits from the use of CCTV surveillance technologies include:

 

CCTV in Schools 2016 - R. Williams
CCTV in Schools 2016 – R. Williams

Like any new technology it is marked with skepticism and fear. Some preschools and childcare centres are already using surveillance in the classroom. Every day I receive an update of what my child is doing in class. It’s always something simple; a few photos and a cheesy blurb.

It also comes with an app. that I can use to login and view all the photos.

Screen Shot Kindyhub App - R. Williams
Screen Shot Kindyhub App – R. Williams

 

Besides surveillance in school isn’t anything new, take the School of the Air for example:

The Alice Springs School of the Air has been completely reliant on using satellite technology to conduct classes since 2006. REACT (Remote Education and Conferencing Tool) is the most powerful learning platform and provides the video-conferencing interface for all students. Email is also a significant tool for distributing and receiving course work and the use of web tools such as Google Sites, Edmodo and Dropbox is also allowing innovation in teaching and learning to take place. (Alice Springs School of the Air n.d.)

This technology allows teachers and students to record sessions and reflect back on them later. Wilson from Katherine School of the Air states that the footage can be recorded and is used for, ‘…teachers to review the effectiveness of their lesson (self reflection and feedback) and for hard to teach concepts for students to refer back to.’ (2016), students also had this option available to them, but it is not something that is expected, as they use the same software.

The use of CCTV in schools is just one form of surveillance, but many others have been used through time, such as the roll call and general reporting. CCTV and other digital means are just the new thing, is it really something we should be afraid of? Realistically it’s just a tool, and like anything its effectiveness relies in the hands of the user.

 

References

Alice Springs School of the Air n.d. ‘FAQs’ retreived 17/8/16, <http://www.assoa.nt.edu.au/the-school/faqs/>.

Perry-Hazan, L, & Birnhack, M 2016, ‘Privacy, CCTV, and School Surveillance in the Shadow of Imagined Law’, Law & Society Review, vol. 50, no. 2, pp. 415-449.

Wilson, S 2016, personal correspondence.