One thought to rule them all: The most powerful force in the world

This was the keynote presentation on day 4 of ICOT.  Kerry Spackman, opened by saying that you can work really hard but if nothing changes you are wasting your time. And making a small difference, even if you don’t know about it is more important than winning a gold medal. What is the biggest dent you could possibly make in the world? Changes can be from the bottom up, or from top down.

“Thoughts, beliefs, and ideas are the most powerful forces in the world. The champion often wins because the thoughts they run through their mind, whether during training or competition, are better than the loser’s thoughts. At the lowest level, it is our thoughts that separate us from the apes, and give us dominion over the world—a truly remarkable transformation given we share so much physiology in common”(source).

Thoughts can be both positive and negative, but are always powerful. We care very much about who controls for example, nuclear weapons, but do not seem to care about the thoughts that run through our society.

“The power of an idea operates on both a personal and a social scale as we saw when Germany was divided into East and West by opposing political ideologies and the implications of those ideas were allowed to play out—one produced the Trabant and the other the S-Class Mercedes. Indeed, beliefs are probably more powerful than nuclear weapons, and yet, while we take great care to protect access to atomic weapons, we play fast and loose with the thoughts that permeate society. Everyone is “entitled to their own beliefs”—whether they match reality or not—often with catastrophic consequences” (source).

One in every 9 Americans over the age of 12 are on Prozac. Something is wrong here. Thoughts are not matching reality. Beliefs have consequences, especially if they don’t match ‘reality’. The messages that are portrayed by, for example the media, have consequences. The impact that the legislation around the tobacco industry and smoking has been pretty effective, for instance. Images of celebrities doing certain things shape behaviour – these are thoughts that are being put in people’s minds.

The 5 levels – me, people important to me, people I know, people I don’t know, and society as an institution. Violence, and hatred are both human. What are we going to do about it? Kerry announced the Knights’ Institute. The Knights are influential people who have the clout to help support key initiatives that can change society. There are knights, knights’ associates, and knights’ agents (and the latter anyone can join). He is always working with Mai Chen.

Often we do things and we don’t know the consequences. Do we see beauty any more, or are we constantly running to feed the machine of money and personal gain? Kindness is, now, possibly a path less travelled.

Some of the questions that Kerry poses are:

  • How do we find the very best thoughts, both for individuals and society?
  • What practical tools and techniques can we employ?




About ictenhancedlearningandteaching

I am a director and consultant at Ethos Consultancy NZ ( I have a keen interest in all aspects of ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) where the focus lies on ways of scaffolding and empowering learners. In particular, I am interested in the way that creative, blended approached to Academic Professional Development can create trust, rapport and encourage reflective practice. As such, ICTELT is approached from facilitation, design, evaluation and assessment as opposed to the tools and what they can offer. I am a strong advocate of the potential of Web 2.0 to empower learners from all walks of life and cultures, especially after my experiences working for 6 years in the Middle East. In particular, I am interested how ePortfolios can be used in the VET sector (especially where Literacy and Language challenges are faced), in Recognition of Prior Learning, and in authentic, applied assessment. I have been involved with designing and developing ICTELT approaches and programmes for ten years. Following research informed approaches and design, I apply a qualitative, iterative process to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, programmes and tools, encouraging learners' voices and input from all stakeholders.
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