moonbeams, democracy and #kinderchat

So I am up late watching the tweets come in from Wisconsin. Up, down, hope, misery, glory, disappointment. All that as the numbers roll in. Down to the wire in one county. We shall probably know the outcome by the end of the writing of this post.

I’ve been thinking about democracy a lot lately. Why? #kinderchat of course. Everything is #kinderchat lately! One of my favorite favorite things about this whole adventure is how quickly it turns!  I think a-b-c and suddenly there is a firefly that needs chasing and we end up at p-q-r-s!  I know exactly where we are going and yet not at all. I love the certainty and the uncertainty. Staying open to possibility is hard work!

All that said, seeing many of the edchats style, I noticed most all vote on topics of discussion each week. Everyone votes and they discuss the topic winner on the appointed day. #Kinderchat is unique, as far as I know, in that we don’t vote on topics. So I started thinking “why do they vote”? Duh! I got there eventually, emulating and modeling the democratic process of course! So I started thinking, “hmmm, #kinderchat doesn’t vote, maybe we should vote?”

I tried to use voting at first, deciding between a wordpress blog and a eblogger blog very early on before we even had a blog! Guess what happened? 1 person voted. They won! Blogger it was! Passion won out in the end. 😀

I say this not to be funny, but to point out that voting as we all know of course first requires participation. As do lots of things, but the point is voting results in win/lose which doesn’t really create the best conditions for 1. fostering collaboration 2. solving actual problems.

Now, it may result in people collaborating on how to get A to win and B to lose. Or pouring money into A and finding some unflattering dirt on B. Immediately, that version of collaboration is skewed towards simply defeating the competition and getting your own way.

The second point is where my wheels really started turning, however, and that is about the ease of creating and growing an ongoing system of sustained collaboration.

To offer choices A-B-C and D as topics and then we all vote on one and discuss it, the choices are limited right off the bat. There’s a name for that, I can’t remember! So what about P? Q? R? fireflies? moonbeams? rainbows? If the group is into moonbeams and the choices that are offered are A or B, does that give voice to a group passionately into moonbeams? Am I listening to what the group wants and fostering outcomes from there or am I already gaming the system to MY desired outcomes?

A system that continously offers extraneous and irrelevant choices and voting on them often simply yields fatigue and disenchantment. The more removed you become from listening and interacting with people, the more your choices become automatically gamed to support your own interests or the special interests interested in collaborating to further the win-lose mindset. In this process, you lose the people. Good points and applications for the larger spheres of government and management.

This all becomes very clear when trying to model the democratic process in Kindergarten. Voting on “crackers” or “cookies” for snack. Is this representative of their passion? Is this modeling listening to the people? What happens to the class culture when one side loses? Yes, there is pouting and a lesson learned in losing, but is that the lesson you want democracy to teach?  And for a real good time, try replicating capitalism in Kindergarten for an hour.

Feelings are important. Teach us why you love moonbeams. A good listener can hear they are talking about astronomy and rays and light and love and further ecourage and foster that conversation. Maybe what the town needs is a telescope. That is listening to “the people”- to our students and to each other.

No, #kinderchat does not vote, at least not yet. We structured a system that allows us to grow, line up experts ahead of time, have time to prepare for the discussion and have others take turns moderating topics. We pull our topics from listening to each other. When we need to vote, we will, but until then it is certainly a more dynamic process to involve ourselves in the doing vs the voting.

This is what democracy has come to mean to me. I hope our little project continues to grow in fun, in work, in all the ways it wants to grow. I have enjoyed every single minute and I am so excited and honored to work with my #kinderchat colleagues.

Yes, I must say it 😀

Everything I Ever Needed to Know I learned in #kinderchat

Love to all,



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