Illustrations by Vanda Kovacs

Illustrations by Vanda Kovacs

Marker: a camel’s humps don’t appear on the skeleton

  by Mark E. Taylor 



“Marker” is a regular column in Coyote, hoping to encourage debate, questions and a certain regard.

Tweeting with Larissa Nenning1 the other day, she suggested I read an article and listen to a fascinating podcast explaining how our ideas about dinosaurs have developed over the last couple of centuries. All the concepts about how dinosaurs looked and lived are based on (hopefully informed) guesswork, based mainly on analysing their skeletons. And therein lies a major problem: especially the skeletons found originally, they only contained fossilised bones with no signs of all those other components like muscles, skin or feathers! It was assumed also that dinosaurs were mainly extremely heavy and could only move very slowly. It took until around 1993 for the general public to start changing their opinions after watching Jurassic Park.

Now, we all know what camels look like. But take a look at their skeletons and, for example, there are no humps or tails. Imagine if camels died out and millions of years in the future someone tried to imagine what a camel might look like! How could anyone possibly come to the conclusion that humps might be involved, or that camels not only run fast, but they can also spit with great accuracy?


All very nice, but what’s this all got to do with youth work and training?

Well, good question.

Think about the way we use concepts and theories in training courses. Am I the only one to hear things like: “Here we give you the skeleton idea”; or “This is the bare bones of this theory – so basically the most important bits”? Then we hope that participants will fill in the detail through further thinking, research or reflected experience.

I’d be glad to learn of examples from you!


Hey, you’re a trainer, you can moderate this event!


As the youth field in Europe has evolved in the 21st century there has been an explosion in the amount and variety of conferences, symposia, something-thons, structured multi- and dia-logues, LABs, consultative fora, etc., etc.

Gradually, sometimes, the organisers move away from the “one person, many people listening” approach. They turn to people they think can move along discussions, get participants to interact, and inspire! Trainers! What if they choose you? What do you say? How do you react when you are told to make the first morning’s programme where it has already been decided in advance that a whole row of VIPs have to speak? What is your strategy, if you have one, for including some non-formal education methods when you’ve been told “this is a political event and we want political outcomes”? There’s not so much in the competence models around which can help you…

Fun, isn’t it, negotiating those grey areas!


  A little way to use social media professionally


Got your GDrive? You can design basic Google Forms? Established your social media accounts since ages?

Why not have a go at finding out what a fairly random collection of your colleagues around the world think about a certain issue? Make a nice little questionnaire – not too long, a little edgy, spikey…

We did it the other week – gave people 10 days to reply and got really thoughtful, inspiring and, at times, even confrontational replies!

If you do it - Let me know how you get on!


Sounds and reflections


Purple Mountains (2019), All my happiness is gone, Drag City Records

Sudan Archives (2019), Full Performance, KEXP-FM

Supergrass (2009), Alright, Parlophone Records

Woods, Kevin Morby and more (2019) All my happiness is gone, Purple Mountains at Woodsist Fest (David Berman tribute)

Many thanks to all those who have provided chocolate eggs
as a form of feedback for the last “
Next time we consider the ‘pataphysics of training to be a deep sea diver.

1 Larissa is not only a periodic Coyote editorial team member, but also a current member of the Advisory Council and board member of OBESSU.

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