EH5 DATE: July 9 2017 Topic: Creatively destroy a short talk by Thor: “The holiday business – do holidays actually change people?”

**!!** A free drink for the person who can reverse-engineer Thor’s brain and best guess the series of questions he used to construct a TED Talk type speech. [If you don’t know what a TED Talk is, google it]
I've updated this Meetup title to "Creatively destroy a talk by Thor ..." to focus on the process rather than the talk topic.

The talk topic itself doesn't matter so much (though fun can be had with it). The main aim is to show how destruction (or 'deconstruction' if you are fancy) using the question tool comes before creativity.

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>> Note: mailouts by Meetup.com (such as changing a topic etc) are often sent to the spam/trash bin by email programs like Yahoo, Gmail etc. Always check your email trash or spam bins before deleting the contents. [If you are clever, you can also change the filter on these email programs to allow emails from certain sources]

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references:


A "working holiday" sounds like a contradiction in terms, and sometimes it is. There are lots of reasons to break the mould of ordinary routines though: "10 Reasons Why You Should Take a Working Holiday" - https://www.worldnomads.com/explore/workandholiday/worldwide/76139/10-reasons-why-taking-a-working-holiday-is-a-good-idea

Unless you are on "permanent vacation", a holiday might be about lots more than relaxation: "How going on holiday can transform your life" - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/7325285/How-going-on-holiday-can-transform-your-life.html

Maybe we worry most about work, but we are also shaped by the absence of work. That absence of work can take many forms, some destructive and some creative or change-making or exciting. Think about how holidays have evolved, and what the world would be like without them. For example: "Half of British tourists say they experience 'personality changes' while away on holiday" - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2413684/Half-British-tourists-say-experience-personality-changes-holiday.html

Some more on the culture of questioning, this time from the perspective of fostering student minds: Warren Berger (2015) "Encouraging Student Questioning" @ http://amorebeautifulquestion.com/encouraging. This is part of a book "A More Beautiful Question - the power of questioning to spark breakthrough ideas"

Here are some good ideas about growing the questioning habit: Robert McGuire (2014) "Promoting Questioning Skills In The Workplace – A Q&A With Warren Berger". Skilledup.com website, online @ http://www.skilledup.com/insights/questioning-skills-in-workplace-interview-warren-berger

Young children are generally much smarter than adults when it comes to questioning, but they need the opportunity too (they don't have meetups!). For example: Naini Singh (2011) "Promoting Questioning Skills in Elementary students" @ https://inquiryblog.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/promoting-questioning-skills-in-elementary-students/

How should we teach adults to ask questions? There are scattered attempts at this with children. For example: Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana (September/October 2011): " Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions - One small change can yield big results". Harvard Education Letter, Volume 27, Number 5, online @ http://hepg.org/hel-home/issues/27_5/helarticle/teaching-students-to-ask-their-own-questions_507

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The holiday business – do holidays actually change people? -– a short talk by Thor July 9 2017


1. What is your idea of a holiday?


a) Is a holiday the same as an absence of work?
b) What exactly is work then?
c) How do people try to maximize the holiday time in their lives? Why?
d) What is your solution to this work/holiday balance?


My pitch: work is being paid by other people to do stuff the way they want. So is schooling. After surviving schooling, I spent another 10 years of doing stuff the way other people wanted, work that is. I became amazed how many people sort of enjoyed being enslaved like this while complaining endlessly. How stupid it seemed, the work I mean. I resolved thereafter to do as little such work as possible. The usual dream method to stop doing other people’s work is to have a lot of money. So people enslave themselves for 50 years to make a lot of money, but usually don’t. Then they die. Stupid too. For a small, ugly, poor man like me, a better solution seemed to be to paint a sign on a door with some respectable career name to shut everyone up, then lock the door and get on with my own stuff. The sign I painted on the door was ‘teacher’. I’ve been having a sort of holiday ever since, though it has taken some fancy footwork.


2. Why has every society – even subsistence cultures and prehistoric cultures – had breaks from routine to observe some kind of celebration?


a) Why have all cultures always had breaks from routine work?
b) What kind of breaks did traditional societies have? [3 kinds]
c) Were there classes of people who were not allowed breaks?


There is not a society on earth, and probably never has been, where people don’t take time out from their normal daily routines for various kinds of celebration. In traditional societies these have usually related to life transitions like marriage, to seasonal celebrations like harvest festivals, and to religious observances. Often all of those three are combined in some way. As far as we know (we don’t know much), these kinds of breaks are not consciously practiced by other species, although they do have mating rituals.


The reasons for these breaks are partly practical: just as with sleep, we need to recuperate at longer intervals too. There are social reasons, such as courtship, friendship, networking etc. I suspect there are reasons to do with the complexity of our brains. So called primitive societies all have complex mythologies and rituals which satisfy a need for more interest than the hard scrabble of daily survival.


3. When did holidays stop being holy days?


a) What was a huge change in social organization that began (in Europe) about the 19th Century?
b) How did people react to the loss of their traditional breaks?
c) What were some new features of the holidays/vacations that emerged with new labour rights?


Holidays as we understand them now really began with the Industrial Revolution. From the 19th Century in Europe, very large numbers of people suddenly began to live lives that were entirely different from anything that had happened before in human history. This change was to something we now call capitalism, where masses of workers were collected together in cities, then factories, to work for wages according to clock time. It was a brutal business. Holidays were unheard of except for the very rich. There was no time for traditional rituals and holy days. People died like flies at a young age. The cultural reaction to this inhuman violence to life rhythms was protest, resistance, and eventually a compromise of better wages, limited working hours, and periodic breaks. The breaks were partially a reintroduction of traditional festival days, but then something entirely new, the annual holiday of two or more weeks.

3. Do we work to live or live to work?


a) How do vacations/holidays reflect the basic philosophy we have about life itself?
b) Which is a more sustainable civilization: 'Work to live' or 'Live to work'
c) Why do people differ in how they value time?


Most of us face a contest between time and working for money. Prosperity is usually measured by national income or personal income. However, beyond a certain survival level, the trade-off between working time and the quality time of personal activities is probably a better measure of a civilized life. The person working 12 or more hours a day has no time to have a life, and the person working 365 days a year is a zombie machine. We live for a finite number of minutes, and lost time can never be recovered. In these terms, amongst the peoples of Western nations very large numbers of United States citizens survive at a primitive, exploitative level. It is an underdeveloped civilization. Many parts of the 3rd World are far worse of course. Germany, with some of the world’s longest annual holidays, has the most productive workers. That is no accident.


4. What is the effect of holidays on individuals?


a) What are some choices people make about how to use their free time?
b) Is free time a time for reorientation and growth, or a time for passive relaxation?
c) Why do some people fear holidays?


Paid work forces you to conform, but holidays give you space to be personal, if you want to be different. Think of your own life. Holidays, breaks from the normal, may have been critical times of change for you. Or they may have been a barely noticed interval in the buzz of activity. Some people fear holidays because they are uncomfortable in their own company. There is a black hole in their own emotional universe that only the outside business of ‘work’ can fill up. Come retirement, they go to pieces and die. For others, work for an employer is an unfortunate interruption to the other things they really enjoy doing.


5. What is tourism anyway?


a) What was the original form of tourism?
b) Why has tourism become a huge industry?
c) How much is a typical tourist changed by their tourist experience?
d) Are nationalities which travel a lot different in some way from those that rarely travel?


Modern tourism appeared with modern vacations. Tourism is a fork in the yellow brick road of business opportunity. Now there are some whole countries with hardly any income except from tourism. Religious pilgrimages have been a good money making racket for a couple of thousand years, but mass tourism is something entirely new since the 20th Century. Whenever we want to doubt that holidays change people we can look at national stereotypes following their little tour guide flags. These are people who don’t want to be changed. They want a pretty backdrop for their Facebook page, while being exactly the same slobs they were back home. The tourism industry deals in exactly this fantasy. If you want to make money from tourists, for god’s sake don’t try to change them. Of course, some of them do get changed a bit by accident. We know that because those nationalities which get into the habit of frequent overseas trips do slowly acquire a more worldly outlook as societies. Again it is a paradox that supposedly the world’s richest nation, USA, has a population which gets very limited holidays and travels very little. You’d think a nation with immigrant parents could do better than that. They live inside their own noisy bubble, in great fear and ignorance of the 95.4% of the world’s population which is not American.


6. So how do holidays change individuals, as opposed to whole cultures?


a) What is the difference between a traveler and a tourist?
b) How are expatriates changed by their experience of working outside of their countries?
c) What kinds of people are most affected and changed by using their holiday time (or experience as expatriates)?


The effect of holidays, vacations, on individuals, depends of course on personalities. A longer experience, such as a work contract in a foreign country ought to have more profound effects. Often it doesn’t, sadly. In expatriate communities all over the world you will find collections of insular characters with cast iron prejudices about the locals where they camp out. Then returning to their home countries they foolishly claim to be experts on those foreign latitudes. There are others who learn some of the local language, mix with strangers and learn to view their own origins with fresh scepticism. They may even suffer a degree of culture shock on returning to their home countries.


The shorter term experience of vacation travel is not usually designed to change people much. However, as individuals become experienced travellers they may set out on journeys of personal growth. They become reluctant to merely call themselves tourists. The braver ones forge their own foreign experiences. Others turn to organized niche tours, like eco-tourism, volunteer tourism, adventure tourism, cycling tourism, treks, and so on. They come home with a story to tell, and perhaps a new outlook on their own lives. They may even come home with new partners.


7. Have I been changed by holidays and travel?


a) What personal opportunities have you had for change through vacations (or longer experiences like working holidays)?
b) How do you think you might have been a different person if you had worked your entire life in on job in one place?
c) Can you think of (at least) one really good example of how you have been changed by a vacation experience?


At the beginning of this talk I mentioned that I’ve tried to have a kind of holiday for most of my life, with reluctant interruptions to do some work for other people. In fact, since becoming a teacher at about 30, I have worked in 7 countries and for many organizations. Whatever I am today is partly a product of those experiences. However, the biggest ‘reset’ in my life did in fact come during a deliberate break from work, and a long journey.


At the end of 1971, 26 years old, with a small amount of money in my pocket, I set out from Sydney, Australia to travel mostly overland to London. I thought I had tickets from Timor, through Indonesia, and I thought that I had a bus ticket from Delhi in India to London. All of those tickets turned out to be trash. I wound up sleeping on the decks of old boats, clinging to the back of village trucks, and catching local buses right across central Asia. From Istanbul I caught and old train to Munich, and from there another to Ostend, then a ferry to England. I was broke and had to lie to immigration to get in. That journey changed my view of the world, and what I could do in it. Everyone I met along the way seemed to be learning English, so I have been teaching them ever since.


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EH5 DATE: July 9 2017 Topic: Creatively destroy a short talk by Thor: “The holiday business – do holidays actually change people?”

1. What is your idea of a holiday?
a) Is a holiday the same as an absence of work?
b) What exactly is work then?
c) How do people try to maximize the holiday time in their lives? Why?
d) What is your solution to this work/holiday balance?

2. Why has every society – even subsistence cultures and prehistoric cultures – had breaks from routine to observe some kind of celebration?
a) Why have all cultures always had breaks from routine work?
b) What kind of breaks did traditional societies have? [3 kinds]
c) Were there classes of people who were not allowed breaks?

3. Do we work to live or live to work?
a) How do vacations/holidays reflect the basic philosophy we have about life itself?
b) Which is a more sustainable civilization: 'Work to live' or 'Live to work'
c) Why do people differ in how they value time?

4. What is the effect of holidays on individuals?
a) What are some choices people make about how to use their free time?
b) Is free time a time for reorientation and growth, or a time for passive relaxation?
c) Why do some people fear holidays?

5. What is tourism anyway?
a) What was the original form of tourism?
b) Why has tourism become a huge industry?
c) How much is a typical tourist changed by their tourist experience?
d) Are nationalities which travel a lot different in some way from those that rarely travel?

6. So how do holidays change individuals, as opposed to whole cultures?
a) What is the difference between a traveler and a tourist?
b) How are expatriates changed by their experience of working outside of their countries?
c) What kinds of people are most affected and changed by using their holiday time (or experience as expatriates)?

7. Have I been changed by holidays and travel?
a) What personal opportunities have you had for change through vacations (or longer experiences like working holidays)?
b) How do you think you might have been a different person if you had worked your entire life in on job in one place?
c) Can you think of (at least) one really good example of how you have been changed by a vacation experience?

 



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