Tag Archives: Values

The 3Rs are Dead; Long Live the 4Rs

29th December 2019 was just another Black Friday in Carnaby Street, London. But unlike its neighbours, the Raeburn clothes store was closed. A sign outside read, ‘Buy Nothing Repair Something’. The sign is now a poster inside the shop,

Today we are closed for business and open for creativity. We’ve disabled our online shop and closed our physical stores.

Raeburn’s design lab up the road in Hackney stayed open and offered a free community drop in repair service – of any brand or no brand of clothing.

Why is it that Timberland, The North Face, Disney and many others seek out Raeburn and, more specifically, founder and lead designer Christopher Raeburn? Why do they want to collaborate and co-create? The answer is simple: it’s the company’s integrity; approach to design and because of its care for our precious planet. Christopher says,


I think as a designer you have an obligation to consider what you are doing and why; ultimately, we want to make strong, sustainable choices…

Companies want his thinking. They want his why and his how more than his what. He’ll help them remake their own what (their product) into something that’s far, far more than it was before.

The Raeburn philosophy comprises 4Rs – the first eponymous, the rest world changing and we’ll look at them here in turn:

Raemade, Raeduced, Raecycled garments

RÆMADE

There’s a great deal of excess military clothing and equipment out there – unused, unusable or unsafe – and Christopher Raeburn hunts it down with archaeological rigour. It’s then taken apart and rebuilt.

Imagine a bomber jacket that was once a fighter plane’s parachute air-brake; a silk dress cut from a cold war battlefield map or a jacket that used to sit poised and packed as a Chinese air force parachute.

It’s all about value, about thinking in lifetimes not days. Each garment is numbered so you know you’ve bought one of a small run. You also know Raeburn will repair it free of charge forever, and when it’s beyond repair will remake it again: jacket to cushion to handkerchief to wallet is a wholly probable evolution over decades. Put simply, less clothes, lasting longer.

The principle: seek out the surplus, find the excess, bring it out of storage and make it into something new (but with a design nod to its heritage, its provenance).

An air-brake, RÆMADE
Cold War silk maps. Archived, stored, found, RÆMADE

RÆDUCED

RÆDUCED products come from new natural fibres; generally (GOTS Certified) Organic Cotton items, but also wool and silk. The RÆDUCED ethos looks at decreasing impact through addressing CO2/water/transport issues.

New, digitally printed silk (from Moving to Mars)

The principle: think long term across a product’s whole lifetime – its birth, life, journey, changes and death – and only then judge its value and its cost. And ask, just how many clothes do I actually need?

RAECYCLED

If it can be used again, use it again. Wool can be respun, cotton can be respun. Plastic can be gathered and reformed. Raeburn sell a cashmere sweater. Not quite 100% – a mix of Tencel (from wood pulp), Polyamide (reused plastic) and reclaimed cashmere. They argue, why use new when used can be reused?

The principle: Why is it sitting there in landfill? What can it become instead and how can this transformation best happen?

Raeburn brand thinking is inspiring, necessary, and scalable. Its transformative and transferable. That’s why, from this learning designer’s perspective it is so compelling.

In an educational environment veering dangerously close to a retro and reductive 3Rs ethos, we desperately need this kind of 4R thinking.

The Reading, wRiting and aRithmatic will take care of themselves – these skills are functional, foundational and easily acquired through systematic proven programmes – which will become ever more effective once we fully commit to and trust machine learning and artificially intelligent products.

But currently that’s all we seem to do – drill the basics – especially in primary schools. Children loose their childhood, their play, their chances to create. Design has been designed out of the curriculum; the future hobbled by a mis-remembered ‘golden’ past and troubled by an overloaded, anxious present. We must design and produce a transformation of learning through principles like Raeburn’s Rs.

Something to think about:

In your day to day teaching, what can be remade, reduced, recycled – practically as in actual materials and objects, or pedagogically as in ways of teaching and learning?

What are your 4 principles of teaching and/or learning?

Thanks to Jake and Marina for talking me through the brand ethos.

I’ll be creating a series of resources this year linked to ethical design and principles like Raeburn’s. Look out on the website and in the monthly mailing.

http://www.thinkingclassroom.co.uk

Contact Raeburn direct for lab tours and workshops.

https://www.raeburndesign.co.uk/events/?catId=workshops

Why British Values Are Not Enough

ethan-kent-1053539-unsplash

4 British Values

‘Necessary but not sufficient’: something I learned from my A-Level Maths teacher, the wise, modest and rigorous Mr Rooke. We were learning to prove things. With Maths. And to do this, certain conditions had to be met. They were needed – essential – but on their own were not enough. Other things were required – sufficient things to prove the theorem.

In order to write it’s necessary to have something to write with but that’s not sufficient. You also need something to write about and something to write on. For a car to move it’s essential to have fuel but not sufficient. You need a driver (or an AI) and somewhere to go. The minimum number of necessaries defines the sufficient.

Likewise, these British Values are necessary,

  • democracy,
  • the rule of law,
  • individual liberty, and
  • mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and
    beliefs

but not sufficient for a successful, future-focused, 21st Century economy.

Not a Critique

I’m not going to use this space to critique statutory requirements imposed without consultation.

Nor will I point to the irony that this imposition is undemocratic. I won’t dwell on the difficulty in actually defining ‘a value’ (is it a belief? or a quality? neither? both? something else?) never mind the challenge of any two people agreeing about what a specific value might mean in practice. No, this is not the place for that.

Or the internal contradictions: does individual liberty extend to rejecting British Values? Does mutual respect and tolerance welcome people living by a different rule of law? And is a rule of law actually a value, or simply a rule. Of law?

That’s for another time, another article.

I’ll suggest an alternative, or maybe an augmentation, or even an improvement.

6 Virtues

Positive Education proposes 6 virtues comprising 24 character strengths:

  • Wisdom
  • Courage
  • Humanity
  • Transcendence
  • Justice
  • Moderation

character-strengths-and-virtues-classification

It’s a fruit of the Positive Psychology movement founded by  Martin Seligman. For Seligman psychology, and its associated interventions, is not about deficit (I’m broke – please fix me with therapies and self-improvement). Rather, it treats each individual as a wonderful mix of  strengths which can be ranked and applied to their challenges. It’s not about whether you are strong or weak. It’s about discovering the different ways in which you are already strong and using this knowledge to grow.

Positive Global British Values

British Values read like restorative announcements. The virtues present as aspirations brimming with possibility.

But one can contain the other: it’s straightforward to map values onto virtues. For example, the virtue of Humanity includes kindness; Justice has fairness; and Moderation cites self-control and forgiveness.

kindness + justice + fairness + self-control + forgiveness = law, liberty, tolerance, respect and democracy.

The British Values are necessary but they are not sufficient for this (or any) country to successfully navigate the 21st and 22nd centuries. The world is changing fast: shifting political landscapes; the rise of AI in law, healthcare, weapons, coaching and more; environmental challenges; new skills for work and the need for enhanced ethical thinking. Being tolerant is not enough.

We need values which give us purpose in an unknown world; virtues that inspire us to be more; and character strengths that empower us to do more.  We need British Values and we need Positive Global Values too.

If you want to hear more about Positive Education in practice listen to this podcast where I talk to Amanda Burnell who has embedded the approach into her London school. I’m sure you’ll want to know your range of character strengths – try this free survey. And find out more about Positive psychology at the positivepsychologyprogram.

(Photo by Ethan Kent on Unsplash
Ethan and many others on Unsplash provide free, high quality photos for personal and commercial use. What virtues and character strengths do you think are present in this kind of transaction?)