What do you think when you see the ground covered with fallen leaves in autumn?

Are you are “Yippee! Let’s kick them about!” kind of person? Or do you reach for the leaf-blower to clear them away?

Do you get fascinated by the leaves themselves: the colours and textures? Or by the shapes and patterns the leaves make in relation to each other? The sound as they rustle in the breeze?

How about what’s going on underneath the leaves? Do you ever stop to think about the creatures down there?  There’s a hidden city of mini-beasts at work in the dark and damp.

We get a glimpse of that hidden city when we sweep the leaves aside. Insects run for cover, their city crashing around them – destroyed by our curiosity.

What if you could explore the hidden city without moving the leaves?


It struck me recently that teaching Clean Language can be like showing people the fallen leaves – especially when participants haven’t chosen the course for themselves, but have been sent by their company.

At first, the students are baffled. “Leaves? Just rubbish!” they say. Or else, “Leaves! Yippee! We know what to do with leaves!” They start kicking, blowing or sweeping.

When they start to use the questions they start to get it. They can see that it’s worthwhile to examine the leaves, and relationships between the leaves. They notice how beautiful they are.

But only a few will grok what’s really going on. Those people realise that the Clean Language questions (and the principles that underpin them) allow them to examine the leaves AND to explore the hidden city beneath them… without disturbing the leaves.

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