Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Goldilocks dilemma

I've been working on a collaborative paper with peers around the world, and our topic has been on the role feedback and reflection play in learning (through an online environment). It's been a gut-wrenching experience to say the least, and right now, for me, that hasn't been resolved.

I don't think of myself as a lazy person, yet I recognise that my motivations lie in the perceived rewards from my efforts. It has been interesting to note that the feeling of failure in tackling this topic has been strong, that it is too complicated to achieve a result in the time we have, yet the urgency to push on has come from my own sense of self - that I am a team player and this is a core of my self-identity. The balance between discomfort, with the drive to push through led me to Mezirow and a bit of an ah-ha breakthrough. As a learner I need to complete 'pictures' - see interconnections, and until now I have been juggling. I wouldn't have reached this point without the support and encouragement of my peers.

Is this the core of a good teacher? Pushing without shoving. Setting stretch goals and then supporting the learner to reach them. Finding the fine line of balance between too much and too little?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The exhaustion of being an Introvert

When I did the Myers-Briggs I was surprised to find I was classified as Introverted. I like being with people, it's just that I energise by spending time by myself. So I feel like I fell off the studies after submitting my first assignment. I was so enthused when I started I was like a puppy replying to every post, and that finally took its toll.

Networks - the paradox of density and Gestalt

Nicholas Christakis has a fascinating take in his TED talk on Social Networks, and the part where he showed the knitting of atoms of carbon into graphite and diamonds was illuminating. The diamond is far denser than the pencil lead, but lets in light because the atoms are arranged in a connected network much more than in graphite. It is not the property of the carbon, but of the network, that gives it its 'personality'.

This sort of counter-intuitive result is like America's use of torture to combat terrorism. I don't think anyone would argue that Abu Ghraib damaged their reputation, and made the job of their soldiers even harder, so how to you counter this behaviour? I would argue open and transparent systems, with prisoners accorded all the rights of an American in court will win the war of hearts and minds - if not the isolated battles of interrogation. Why destroy something you respect and trust? If you understand something then you can begin a basis of communication, negotiation, persuasion...At least begin dialogue.

So it is in management. Command and Control doesn't work as effectively in the Knowledge Economy as other techniques that distribute power and empower employees (which used to be known as people, before they were turned into Human Capital).

So lets start looking at the real animal, and rename it as the 'living system' that is an organisation, not the dry graphical nodes of 'social network' chart. By recognising the big picture and seeing it as having it's own dynamic life, that requires care and nuturing, we give dignity back to the people who sustain it. The gestalt is the sum all of us, and yet bigger than all of us individually. As our actions ripple back and forth across the distances between indirect connections you realise the system takes on a life of its own, it develops personality - and that can't be isolated into individual nodes.