One Interesting Thing about Five Interesting Things

(and a bonus reflection on the network society)

If you write a title of the form ‘Five interesting things about X’ at the top of a page or blog post, where X is an event, a workshop you’ve run, or a paper you’ve just read, chances are you can fairly quickly distil a page or post full of, well, five interesting things..

And chances are that other people will find it useful.

If you ask me, that’s fairly interesting. And it’s got interesting implications.

I’ve just spent three days with various academics, managers and practitioners from the world of human services (which included quite a few folk with experience of youth work) where we’ve been exploring the rise of the ‘Network Society‘ (if the term is not familiar, at least look at the Wikipedia page) and it’s impact on the whole field of human services.

We encountered a lot of challenges: Many of the practitioners and managers can perceive the need think about and adapt to the network society – but they struggle to find the time to engage with both the literature on the network society and the practice dilemmas and tensions that need to be resolved in responding to the rise of a digitally connected world. Many of the academics are doing in depth research and writing great articles (sometimes about the fact practitioners are ever more time pressured) – but are struggling to get that research to influence practice. And both academics and practitioners alike with teaching responsibilities were talking about the challenges of using old lecture & essay based formats of education to equip a new generation of youth workers, social workers and probation officers.

Talking about “Five interesting things” may not offer a resolution to all those challenges, but over lunch today we explored how it might have something to offer. What if:

  • Tutors encouraged students to read recent research and summarise the ‘Five Interesting Things’ from key articles.
  • We combined the lists of ‘interesting things’ produced by different students through an online tool like IdeaScale and encouraged students and practitioners to vote up and down the most and least significant ‘interesting things.
  • We took the top five ‘most interesting things’ and used them as abstracts alongside all the articles being input into big knowledge management systems for practitioners.

A new teaching approach. Turning research into practical nuggets of information & knowledge. And helping practitioners engage with contemporary learning about major social shifts and developments.


(BTW: Do check out the Connected Practice Ning if the idea of ‘human services in the network society’ is one that resonates with you)

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