The Collective

Although #WomenEd is not exclusive to women, it is a space where women are in a clear majority, and where they get to share their experiences in what feels like a safe space. The very words “safe space” can bring out a rash in some people, so this blog is most definitely not about safe spaces. But today’s event felt to me like a place where it was possible to tell a few stories that I might not have told in a different setting. If you feel that there needs to be a #MenEd, then I would encourage you to set one up, because today’s event in Bristol just felt like a great space to share the experiences that bind us. We weren’t putting down men, we were putting up women. (And no offence meant to the guys, but the physical process of childbirth doesn’t have quite as much relevance to you.)

It’s been my experience that people and organisations work very well when they have a clear vision of what they want to do. Not in the sense of “we are going to do this anyway, regardless of what you think” but in the sense of “this is how we do it here”. I love the way that #WomenEd achieves this goal. It feels like the very best kind of collective, where all the people within the collective are emboldened to speak out. These days, the idea is afoot that organisations are all about leaders – The Superheads – and that the best leaders hurdle the barriers and can do it all, even the stuff that you didn’t actually ask them to do. This is the “cult of perfection” that Jules Daulby so rightly identified at today’s @WomenEd event in Bristol. But if you move away from the idea that one person knows or can do it all, and you just work together, embracing the crap-o-meter of life, maybe good stuff can happen.

The problem with a “clear vision” is that not everyone’s vision is always the same. This is especially the case if you have a top down structure to your organisation, where someone is always telling someone else what to do. The lovely thing about today’s event in Bristol was that no one was telling me I had to do anything. They were just suggesting it as an option. And telling me it was okay if I didn’t quite manage it. We could always take a vote on it later, over a bottle of wine. Because after all, we are all part of a collective. 😉

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2 Responses to The Collective

  1. Brian says:

    Speaking as a male of the species, I would say that I think this is a top notch idea and it is great that you all had a great and productive day.

    I personally get a little fed up of hearing about the Head’s Roundtable and the SSAT. I am a member of neither but I am able to soak up what they say as I wish. I hope that in due course some more of the ideas coming from WomenEd will be shared around more widely. It is difficult to know what one should say in a comment to a post like this one for fear of falling foul of those who seem to see WomenEd as a threat or just wish to make light of the idea.

    Like other initiatives, if there is no benefit then unless the Government step in to provide support and funding it will wither and die.

    I look forward to seeing some interesting discussions.If there is a WomenEd meet on the south coast I might well ask if I can attend if I am about although if meetings are women only I quite understand. As I understand it the Heads Roundtable is for Heads only so I won’t be offended.

    The education system is in crisis. I will now tempt the wrath of the statisticians and say that I do feel that women are actually privileged by evolution when it comes to nuturing children and so when they speak I get the urge to listen. WomenEd can’t do any worse than many of the other interest groups about at the moment, and I have a feeling WomenEd has the potential to do much better. I just hope the wisdom is shared.

    Liked by 1 person

    • suecowley says:

      Thank you for a lovely comment. That’s a good point about sharing the wisdom, it seems to be moving outwards organically at the moment as an alternative way of spreading a vision but it could certainly be gathered as a resource. Personally I’d quite like to see similar collectives for men where they are needed, there’s one taking shape in the early years at the moment. And men are very welcome at #WomenEd events, it would be lovely to meet you at one some day. 🙂


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