This time last week, I was on Front Row, Radio 4 arts and culture magazine programme. The interview had been recorded before Christmas and was part of a Sheffield Special, prompted by Sheffield Theatres being 50 years old this year. I was interviewed about facilitating ‘Sharing the View- philosophy in the gallery’ with Sheffield Museums. You can listen to it here (interview with me starts 32 minutes in).
This was a great experience for me and a great opportunity. Chris (Sheffield Museums Communications Manager), Ekene (producer) and Nick (presenter) were supportive, kind, funny and enthusiastic. We talked things through, I felt clear what was wanted of me and confident that I could deliver it. I felt lucky but reminded myself it wasn’t luck. I’ve worked hard to get myself into what I’m doing now.
Luck is when preparation meets opportunity - attributed to Roman philosopher Seneca
The recording bit was really enjoyable – but of course it was, because facilitating philosophical enquiry sessions and talking shop are two of my favourite things to do. It was the usual buzz of facilitating with cherries on top. And I love cherries.
There was a delay of a few weeks, between recording and the programme going out. Excellent opportunity to get my website in order – nothing like a deadline to get me into action! Then, on Monday afternoon as the time ticked by towards the start, I found I was really, really nervous. Like, feel a bit sick nervous. Which was interesting because it wasn’t like I had to dive from the high board. I only had to be at home listening to the radio.
Pacing helped. And breathing.
It’s always good to keep breathing.
I listened and it seemed to be ok.
Which possiblity was backed up by the kind comments that people have made since. Friends and colleagues but also from people I don’t know so well. People have said things along the lines of ‘you were really clear, and the ideas came across well’. Which is nice, and kind of meta. I think Philosophy for Communities is a deserving recipient of those compliments.
Thinking well, communicating clearly
Because in developing my Philosophy for Communities practice, I’ve noticed how my thinking has improved, and my ability to reason and pursue my thoughts. It’s not just a fun way to bring a group together for properly interesting conversation – although it is that. It’s a practice for thinking well. It’s not about what to think, it’s about how to think. I’ve got better at listening to what’s being said and thinking about what my response is: I’m better at arguing now, in a good way.
If you would like to practice 'thinking well' in a fun and friendly way, come along. If you’d like to get people responding to art and culture in community, I’d love to talk with you. If you’ve got a team or a group that you work with who would benefit from developing their ability to engage in disagreeing agreeably, get in touch.
Let’s get people thinking well, communicating clearly, finding big questions and responding with their creative, critical, collaborative and caring thinking.