I drove up to Warwick University by way of Bath this morning. Bath was for a fascinating meeting on representation of pain which will be the subject of future posts as there are several links to SenseMaker® and a growing body of healthcare work. Warwick was to pick up my son Huw who is now in the third year of a four year masters in Chemistry and return him to the family home for Christmas and of course tomorrow's end of the world party. I drove up via the flooded plain of the River Severn and was reminded, as I alway am in the face of floods, with the wonderful chapter from Winnie the Pooh in which Piglet is entirely surrounded by Water.
The reminder was especially strong as, in arranging to pick Huw earlier in the week, I had made reference to a proposed family trip to Warsaw for the new year being an expotition. He questioned my spelling and I realised I had failed in his early education. Those who are not so deprived will instantly remember the link to the North Pol Pooh found it after Christopher Robin lead an Expotition to the North Pole. Now in my family we constantly referenced common childhood stories as a way of conveying complex ideas in simple form, but also as a means of establishing a common identity through shared experience. When I first went primary school, by younger sister impressed everyone at the school gate during a sudden rain storm, saying from stroller: It's a little Anxious to be a Very Small Animal Entirely Surrounded by Water. No one really expects that from a three year old. However listening to the stories she was able to understand language beyond her age and apply it in context.
Its one of the reasons why I hate children's stories that dumb down language. There is no need and it fails one of the functions of stories which is to manage a phased transition from childhood to adulthood. The other great failure is to loose the magic of tragedy. Hollywood does this with European Fairy stories, giving them happy endings or, in the truly terrible Disney version of Winnie the Pooh compromises the language, looses the subtlety, the irony and the educational value. Also just look at the difference between the illustrations.
Good Children's stories can be understood by adults and children alike. Lets take another quote from Winnie the Pooh:
When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.
Now that is how I feel about Cynefin from time to time, its a very Thingish thing but other people change it. Often they improve it or make me think, sometimes they simply grab the language (and the brand) for their own pet ideas. Its all part of living in the world and Winnie the Pooh helped, and helps me understand it.
So I let down my son, I share the skype conversation to illustrate my partial redemption through Doctor Who:
[17/12/2012 21:24:23] Huw David Snowden: expotition?
[17/12/2012 21:24:35] Dave Snowden: to the North Pol Pooh found it
[17/12/2012 21:25:14] Dave Snowden: In which Christopher Robin Leads an Expotition to the North Pole
[17/12/2012 21:25:18] Huw David Snowden: expedition im assuming you mean
[17/12/2012 21:26:45] Dave Snowden:
PooH FouND IT
[17/12/2012 21:27:00] Huw David Snowden: right
[17/12/2012 21:27:08] Huw David Snowden: reverting back to english
[17/12/2012 21:27:12] Huw David Snowden: and correct spelling
[17/12/2012 21:27:12] Dave Snowden: I didn't bring you up properly
[17/12/2012 21:27:38] Dave Snowden:
An Ambush,” said Owl, “is a sort of Surprise.”
“So is a gorse-bush sometimes,” said Pooh.
[17/12/2012 21:27:40] Huw David Snowden: well there was significant less winnie the pooh than i initially expected
[17/12/2012 21:34:20] Dave Snowden: as I say I let you down
[17/12/2012 21:34:40] Huw David Snowden: well at least you admit it
[17/12/2012 21:34:54] Huw David Snowden: on the brighter side there was a considerable amount of doctor who
[17/12/2012 21:34:58] Huw David Snowden: which is a plus
[17/12/2012 21:34:59] Dave Snowden: The consequences are so visible there is no way to hide it
[17/12/2012 21:38:05] Dave Snowden: Heffalumps were missing for your life
[17/12/2012 21:38:36] Dave Snowden:
“Help, help!” cried Piglet, “a Heffalump, a Horrible Heffalump!” and he scampered off as hard as he could, still crying out, “Help, help, a Herrible Hoffalump! Hoff, Hoff, a Hellible Horralump! Holl, Holl, a Hoffable Hellerump!”
[17/12/2012 21:38:50] Dave Snowden: having fun reading them online and laughing all over again
[17/12/2012 21:39:24] Huw David Snowden: right….
[17/12/2012 21:39:24] Dave Snowden: one of you will have to produce grand children so I can rectify my errors second time round
[17/12/2012 21:39:31] Huw David Snowden: sure…
[17/12/2012 21:44:20] Dave Snowden:
The more it
The more it
The more it
How cold my
How cold my
[17/12/2012 21:45:28] Huw David Snowden: you know how i blocked you that one time
[17/12/2012 21:45:41] Dave Snowden: no soul some people
[17/12/2012 21:46:26] Huw David Snowden: how rude
[17/12/2012 21:46:31] Huw David Snowden: definitely getting blocked now
[17/12/2012 21:46:51] Dave Snowden: ;(
[17/12/2012 21:47:00] Huw David Snowden: i know i know
[17/12/2012 21:47:06] Huw David Snowden: but its for your own good in the end