Being a magic weaver

At the recently held Service Excellence Conference 2017, Sir John Jones drew on his book “The magic-weaving business: finding the heart of learning and teaching” to inspire attendees to become agents of lasting change.

Being a magic weaver may be considered not limited to individuals who can make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of people. University departments could also become magic weavers involved in the business of making a positive impact on the institution and its members. In this light, we at the Centre for Excellence in Learning (CEL) at Bournemouth University can draw some useful lessons from Sir John Jones’s idea. For instance, Jones (2009) noted that being a magic weaver is not all about what you believe, what you say but also what you do (p.17). This suggests maintaining a narrow or non existence gap between policies we believe in and talk about and evidencing best practices.

CEL, being a hub of energy, enthusiasm and talent in pedagogy, established to make a significant contribution to enhancing the student learning experience at BU represents a clear intent. However, in taking on the role of a magic weaver, we must continue to dream, have self-efficacy, exercise passion, righteous indignation and wisdom as we continually seek to bring about positive change in the experience of our students.

Jones (2009) also noted that magic weavers can sometimes be referred to as Threshold Adventurers – people who are ‘crazy’ enough to believe they can effect a meaningful change and actually go on to bring about one. At a seminar during the Service Excellence Conference, some participants brainstormed on what it might take to become a Threshold Adventurer or Magic Weaver. They came out with the following elements which might inspire us to become agents of lasting change:

Define your path to excellence

  • Establish own standards and continually evolve
  • Foster a culture conducive for excellence
  • Set benchmarks/metrics to ascertain progress
  • Have self efficacy and engage your potential
  • Identify relevant colleagues for peer observation and feedback

Recognise and embrace determinants of change

  • Build interpersonal relationships underpinned by trust and understanding
  • Exercise Passion
  • Have courage
  • Focus on small changes and evolve
  • Embrace vulnerability
  • Learn from failures

Take personal responsibility

  • Challenge yourself to be creative
  • Do not be afraid to ask why not?
  • Seek honest feedback – critical but supportive
  • Share experience within a framework of mentoring or trust

The storify of the Service Excellence Conference can be accessed here.


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