Interconnected Without Falling Apart: A Tale of the Rubik’s Cube & The Future of The Training Institute

Alice in Wonderland

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’ asked Alice. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Do you remember playing with a Rubik’s Cube when you were a kid? I don’t know about you, but trying to solve that puzzle frustrated me to no end.

Rubiks cubeThe Rubik’s Cube has an interesting backstory. The creator of the cube did not set out to make a best-selling toy. His actual intent was to create a teaching tool for students to solve the structural problem of moving the parts independently without the entire mechanism falling apart.
The cube is made up of nine colored squares on each side that can be moved on their own, yet are still interconnected. The puzzle can be solved  in 43 quintillion different ways.  !!!

My approach was to focus on individual pieces and not the whole (“solving for pattern”, as the expression goes). As you can probably guess, I never did solve the darn thing.

What does all of this have to do with the future of the Training Institute (TI) you might ask?

In my fairly new role as the TI Coordinator, I’ve had the privilege of participating in intense discussions and strategic planning around the future of the TI. These discussions centered on the concepts of interconnectedness, strengthening existing partnerships/creating new ones, social change, and digging down to the roots of WHY we do what we do.

Stone pileAnd then there were conversations about striking a balance between the need to deliver knowledge/skill-based, evidence-informed training and the need to effect change, dismantle oppressive structures, and mobilize communities. Within the TI how would we do both? Could we do both?

Where did we want to go?

I began to see the decisions we needed to make for 2016 and beyond as a puzzle. As is my habit, I initially focused on the individual pieces – what webinar do we need next? Which dates were available for which training? Who will present at the conferences?

You get the idea.

Lightbulb idea drawingDuring one of our conversations, something clicked for me (for you Oprah fans, an “aha moment”, as it were) and I was able to understand what my supervisors were saying – to back up and look at the big picture – to think of all the individual parts in the context of a larger pattern, and to realize that, like the Rubik’s cube, the many moving pieces that make up the TI could be moved, yet stay interconnected, and that the whole structure would not fall apart. As we wrapped up our multi-year plan for the TI, I felt inspired.

2016 holds what you would normally expect from the TI, but with some new twists that we think you’ll love. We are updating and revising all of our curricula and adding new curricula that will include information from the field about how you can engage in social justice movements in your communities and beyond. We are building a training microsite, virtual peer communities, online training platforms, and more. And we are hosting TWO major statewide conferences.

In a nutshell: we will be busy. And we can’t wait.

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