Mixed Signals: Condemn more, understand less

No. 30 – 29th of May, 2022

I was 8 years old in 1993.

John Major was prime minister.

Following a crime that shocked the world, he said:

“Society needs to condemn a little more and understand a little less.”

In many ways, society took his advice.

And we've had plenty of help... from our tech. The platforms we use tap into our love of being outraged. We aren't here to understand, we're here to condemn.

This clearly isn't the way. Understanding is key.

Whether you're teaching kids (thing 01), designing tech (thing 02), or fighting to regain your attention (thing 03)... understanding is the way forward.

01. Britain's Strictest Headmistress

60 minute watch | ITV

Katharine Birbalsingh is worshipped and feared on Twitter in fairly equal measure. Her school is strict, and proud (of being strict). I watched this with my eldest son. Before the programme really began, he was quite clear... “I wouldn't last a day there.” In the end, we both found it quite intriguing. The high standards, the clear expectations... there was much to admire. I might've done well there. But that's not the thought I'm left with. I think about my 3 kids, with their trauma and their neurodiversity. I wonder if they would survive there.

+ See also: Rob K Henderson on his visit to the "controversial" Michaela Community School.

02. Trauma-informed design

6 minute read | Catalyst Resource

This is exactly the sort of work I hope to do with Clarified. Good design must involve the people you design for. And when those people have experienced trauma (as almost 50% of children and 60% of adults have), this needs to be built into the design too. Some great thoughts here.

+ Found via Lauren Pope's excellent 10 Things.

03. Why you can't pay attention

2 hour 20 minute listen | The Rich Roll Podcast

Johann Hari on why we can no longer pay attention (thanks for the recommendation Sophie). Really enjoyed this, and I'm now part-way through his book on the topic (Stolen Focus). There's often a divide on this topic between ‘here's what we can do about it’ and ‘there's nothing we can do, we're all doomed’. Johann gives a nice balance, and this is another book I think everyone should read.

+ Somewhere on my list of “life can be rather weird at times” appears this... some lovely person based a character in a game on me. 😲

+ Incredible piece of art on America's problem with guns.

+ The best books for freelancers, from an incredible community of freelancers.

+ Talking of freelancing... I'm so pleased that Doing It For The Kids is ditching Facebook and has launched a new space.