I was at the Higher Education Academy conference this week in Manchester.

I heard Dame Tanni Grey Thompson speak after the (excellent) conference dinner. Dame Tanni is a great Olympic Athlete. Her biography is called ‘Seize the Day’ – a phrase Beyond Distance is fond of – we called our learning design workshops CARPE DIEM (

But how she has seized everything and what an inspiration! Her ability to take and understand constant critique whilst maintaining absolute determination and independence of spirit shone through in every word.

Though thankfully very few of us face and overcome the disadvantages of paralysis from our early lives, as Dame Tanni did, I guess we all have our burdens which can appear to get in the way, of personal and professional achievement, and the enabling of others to excel.

The principles that I got from her talk were clear: the need for planning and preparing for success – sheer hard slog,  team work, forward-vision and aspiring to make dreams come true. I think it’s not too fanciful to apply these to the future for learning- indeed I think we should do nothing less!!

Gilly Salmon
July 2009

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