The Patient Art (and Flow) of Influence: #SlowchatED Dec 15-21


Courtesy of Maddie, @HallMiddle 8th grader

We often talk about influence as a commodity – something to be “peddled.” People make careers out of influencing others (e.g. lobbyists), yet the concept of “influence” can also have an unsavory undertone. Influence as a contagion, something difficult to contain once let out into the open; an idea or mentality (or substance) that sullies something pure.

What if we took more time to think and talk about influence as a spirit of connection, a frame of mind – one that encourages us to both share ideas with others (and perhaps see them take root) and open ourselves up to what other people think and believe (and to feel those ideas take root in us)?

              Press play and take 90 seconds to let the water take you where it may.

#SlowchatED for the week of December 15-21 will be a chance to talk about what influence is, how we experience it, and how we can (in the realm of education at the very least) help our students learn its art. How to see it as a vital component of communication, learning, and navigating the world.  Just as the word originates in the Latin verb fluere (to flow), we will discuss how influence can be a mutually empowering process – not just a one way interaction (water flowing in one direction).

How can we make schools places where we allow students to influence us, each other, the community around them?  How do we build physical and cultural spaces to influence their engagement (not assume it) and invite their flow?

The water cycle is a perfect metaphor in fact, as water moves in all directions as it assumes different states – evaporating to join a cloud, precipitating as snow to form part of a glacier, breaking off into the sea…Some changes come rapidly, sometimes water stays in the same form for thousands of years. Influence doesn’t move at a set pace; many good ideas take years to find their way into the status quo.


I’m quite pleased to be hosting the chat this week. “Papa” Theriault celebrated his birthday this past weekend, so hopefully he is happy to see the flow of his ideas – in this case, a Twitter chat over the course of a week – continue to cascade downhill with gathering force.

Questions/contributions from the week:








Cross-posted at SlowchatED.

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