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LEARNING

Carol Kinsey
Goman, PhD, is
an author and
Ghost story
keynote speaker
who addresses Outdated attitudes, behaviors scary
association,
government, By Carol Kinsey Goman underused brainpower and valid reason for not sharing
and business results in billions of dollars in information.
audiences I believe in ghosts. lost ideas, in not sharing best The Martian tried to give
around the Not only do I believe in practices and lessons learned, his opinion when he first
world. Her ghosts, I’ve seen how they in a lack of innovation, and joined the organization, only
latest book and haunt individuals, teams, in employees’ not having the to be told: “That’s not the way
program topic is departments, and entire information needed to do we do things around here. It
The Nonverbal their jobs. may have worked on Mars,
organizations around the
Advantage but not here.” So, over time, he
world. Now that’s scary!
– Secrets and
And nowhere are these To explain what I’d been stopped contributing.
Science of Body
workplace ghosts more seeing in organizations, I And we’ve all met the
Language at
Work. insidious than in the area of wrote a book called “Ghost “techie” (and other experts
For more collaboration. Story.” And I wrote it as a like him) who thinks he’s
information, What I’m calling “ghosts” business fable – just for fun. informing us, but really just
email are those out-dated attitudes And fun I had creating confuses the issue because he
CGoman@CKG. and behaviors about some pretty weird characters: can’t translate what he knows
com, or through collaborative knowledge- A magpie who hoards into words we can understand.
her Web sites: sharing that still haunt information, a three-legged Then there is Dot, the
www.CKG. corporate halls and factory Martian who is the ultimate heroine of the story. After
com and www. outsider, a 400-pound pig in surveying 200 mid-level
floors.
Nonverbal. managers regarding the state
It’s an expensive haunting an admiral’s uniform who
Advantage.com.
that causes wasted talent and treats staff as if they were of knowledge-sharing in their
children, and the two-year- teams and departments,
old head of IT who speaks I found women to be at a
“dribble” – to name only a distinct disadvantage: They
few. are less likely to speak up in
Actually, it wasn’t that meetings, less likely to believe
hard for me to create these that their contributions are
characters. Truth is, I’ve met valuable, and more likely
all of them. Of course I’m to personalize failure while
speaking figuratively. externalizing success.
The pig, for example, is Dot symbolizes those of us
the prototypical “command who don’t share information
and control” manager who because we are unconsciously
distributes information on a competent. We simply “don’t
“need-to-know” basis. know what we know.”
His role, he believes, is to One of my favorite
protect people who are unable characters in the book is a
to absorb what’s really going talking bonsai tree. I needed
on within the organization. a living thing that Dot could
Let them know what’s use as a mentor, something
actually happening, he insists, you might find in a corporate
and they would panic, freak meeting room. I also wanted
out, and defect like rats. her mentor to have obvious
So, naturally, the pig is flaws.
hesitant to share.Everyone The bonsai offers a lot
in the story, in fact, has a of good advice, but doesn’t

12 SMART PEOPLE
LEARNING
have Dot’s courage and inner But after thinking it over, created leverage and power
strength. It’s a way of making I had to admit that I’ve been bases by hanging onto what
the point that mentors, while just as haunted as all my they knew.
incredibly valuable for a time, characters. Under some But today, when the shelf
are always imperfect people circumstances, I’ve let ghosts life of knowledge is much
. . . or plants. In the end, Dot lead me into any number of shorter, the new reality is
grows in her ability to value outdated behaviors. The trick, that knowledge is no longer a
her own insights and to rely I’m learning, is to examine commodity like gold, which
on herself. those behaviors in light of new holds (or increases) its worth
I was once asked if any realities. over time. It’s more like milk
of these characters were For instance, like my – fluid, evolving, and stamped
autobiographical. I initially character “The Miser” (a with an expiration date.
denied that any of them knowledge-hoarding magpie), And by the way,
resembled me in the least, I’ve been haunted by the belief I’ve learned there is
although one, “Mr. Right” that “knowledge is power.” nothing less powerful than
– who has already found the Which may have been true in hanging on to knowledge
right answer and so refuses to an earlier, more stable time, whose time has expired.
look at alternatives – was very when knowledge obsolescence How about you? Seen any
much like my husband. took years and when hoarders ghosts lately?

Learning while black


Creating educational excellence for African American children
In her book Learning While Black, Janice Hale argues that educators must look beyond the cliches
of urban poverty and teacher training to explain the failures of public education with regard to black
students. “Why,” Hale asks simply, “are black students not being educated as well as white students?”
Hale goes beyond finger pointing to search for solutions. Closing the achievement gap of African
American children, she writes, does not involve better teacher training or more parental involvement.
The solution lies in the classroom, in the nature of the interaction between the teacher and the child.
And the key, she argues, is the instructional vision and leadership provided by principals.
To meet the needs of diverse learners, the school must become the heart and soul of a broad
effort, the coordinator of tutoring and support services provided by churches, service clubs, fraternal
organizations, parents, and concerned citizens.
Calling for the creation of the “beloved community” envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Hale
outlines strategies for redefining the school as the Family, and the broader community as the Village, in
which each child is too precious to be left behind.
“In this book, I am calling for the school to improve traditional instructional practices and create
culturally salient instruction that connects African American children to academic achievement. The
instruction should be so delightful that the children love coming to school and find learning to be fun
and exciting.” ~ Janice Hale

Janice E. Hale is professor of early childhood education at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.
She is the founder of Visions for Children, a demonstration school designed to facilitate the intellectual
development of African American preschool children. Email: JaniceEHale@cs.com

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