Archive for July, 2010

Your Inner Voice

July 30th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

They say a picture is worth a thousand words but that’s not the comparison of interest today.  This is the thousand words of interest today:

A thousand words, yet not one word is spoken aloud.  A thousand words spoken so that only the speaker can hear, not because they are speaking softly but because they are speaking with their inner voice.  The thousand words begin with a picture of a stranger and end with another picture of this stranger.  Between these two pictures, can you imagine the silent conversations being conducted?  Can you imagine where these conversations will lead, what decisions are being made and how problems are being solved along the way? 

Talking to yourself is an important part of experiential learning and behavioural change.  But it has to be an authentic conversation, just like the authentic conversations you can have with other people; if your inner conversations are like the superficial, ‘passing the time of day’ conversations you have with others, you are wasting your own time.

Other people may question you but the questions you ask of yourself are much more important.  Other people may assess you but the assessments you make of yourself are much more important.  Other people may make predictions about your future but the predictions you make about your own future are much more important.

Listen to everybody for you need to connect, collect and analyse.  Listen to yourself for you need to learn, understand and change.

Intending Before Sleeping

July 29th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

Intention and ‘in tension’ are prevalent and related features of experiential learning and behavioural change.  Intending to do something can generate stress, while being under stress can have implications for both what you intend and whether you act on these intentions.  Saint Bernard (the original, not the dog breed) is thought to be the author of the proverb that describes the road to hell as being paved with good intentions.  Good intentions must lead somewhere, but not there.

At any one time, we represent fluidly our past, present and future selves; today, I am a combination of where I’ve come from, where I am and where I want to go.  Tomorrow, this combination may be very slightly or very dramatically different – nothing is, nor should it be, set in stone.  Our future selves are defined by our current actions and, perhaps more so, by our current intentions.  The great challenge is to translate intentions of the future into actions in the present.

How do you meet this challenge?  As with every aspect of experiential learning, there is no single answer; here’s one, though, that you may not usually propose – go to sleep!  Naturally, the intention has to be created and stored (in memory) but, after doing so, those who ‘sleep on it’ have been shown to be more successful in doing what they intended than those who ‘don’t sleep on it’.  It’s not because sleep strengthens the intention – action link; rather, sleep appears to strengthen the link between intention and other contextual associations.  These (multiple) associations serve to trigger recall of the original intention and this leads to action.  And you thought you were just sleeping when, in fact, you were reinforcing your intentions by association!

We all plan the future and sleeping on these plans can help, unless you buy a particular type of briefcase:

It’s a continuous cycle of intend, sleep and act, which contrasts with intend, don’t act, sleep and then intend to do what you didn’t do yesterday.  Work out what’s best for you and then intend to do it, as soon as you’ve had a sleep!

No, It Isn’t

July 28th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

Today’s post is about honesty.  Actually, that’s not quite true (a wonderful euphemism for a deliberate untruth) – it’s about deception.

Sometimes, deception can take the form of a blatant lie.  At other times, it might be a subtle twisting of the facts or the deliberate omission of relevant information.  Sometimes, you do it to others.  At other times, others do it to you.  Then there are the times that you do it to yourself.

When you look at visual illusions, you may know that the lines are the same length, the dots aren’t actually there or that the moon should be the same size in all parts of the night sky but you can’t override these perceptual illusions with this knowledge.  Your thinking is being deceived by your eyes; you’re aware of the deception but unable to do anything about it.  You see the lines as different lengths, you see the dots appear and you see the moon as much bigger near the horizon than it appears overhead.

But is it possible to remove this explicit awareness of the deception and still deceive yourself?  The answer is ‘No’.  Actually, that’s not quite true – the answer is ‘Yes’.  You can and do change your behaviour, even when you have previously performed to your absolute maximum, to conform appropriately to an external reference point while still believing you are performing to your absolute maximum and without knowing if this reference point actually applies to you.  You deceive yourself, usually with no conscious knowledge of the deception.

Hesta Prynn  asks repeatedly – “Can We Go Wrong” – and the answer is that we can, even when we think we’re being truthful to ourselves.

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Deception between people is an unfortunately common occurrence; deception within a person can also occur, without conscious awareness that this deception is taking place.  This personal deception is based on a (presumed) reason, which begs the question:

While it may be falsely reasoned, is this self-deception reasonable and unavoidable?

‘tis nobler thinks the answer to this question is ‘No’.  Actually, that’s not quite true, or is it?

Expecting, Reflecting

July 27th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

Reflection is an important thinking strategy in experiential learning, one of a number of metacognitive strategies that assist understanding.  How am I going?  How will I do?  What could I improve on?  Why did I miss that information?  If you are committed to your learning, you should expect to reflect.

Reflection on past behaviour and reflections on predictions of future behaviour are designed to influence subsequent learning.  But there is a way in which another type of ‘reflection’ shapes behaviour – the reflection of expectations that others hold about you and to which you often conform.  You see their expectations in their words, their actions and their attitudes.

It’s an established aspect of social psychology – a reliable connection between an appreciation of others’ expectations and your behaviour.  This connection can have both direct and indirect foundations; it may be derived directly from learned associations between you and your past behaviour or indirectly from presumed links between your characteristics and the past behaviour of others who share these characteristics.  Regardless of origin, the effect on your behaviour can be significant; as you reciprocate by ‘broadcasting’ your expectations of others, your effect on others can be just as significant.  Sometimes, this can spiral out of control:

In Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”,  Jaques speaks the following well-known lines:

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts …….

We all play many parts, with some of these parts being determined by the expectations of us held by others.  In many situations, this is standard interaction; in learning situations, it’s equivalent to foregoing your way to follow that expected by another.  It’s the difference between toeing their line and walking your way.  Which way is best for you as an experiential learner – your way or their way?  To answer that, expect to reflect!

Ever Tempting

July 26th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

Learning is not linear; you don’t start from the unknown and proceed to the known in a straight line.  It can be a bumpy ride and you might find yourself travelling in several different directions at the same time, but that’s the nature of the learning journey.  Few things in life are straight and forward; virtually nothing is straightforward.  It’s the challenge of the journey.

And along the way there will be many temptations, enticements to lure you temporarily, or forever, from your learning journey.  These impulsive departures are a messy combination of many other things – goals, motives, attitudes, rewards, decisions, biases, etc- and can only be imperfectly controlled.  We are, after all, human and fallible.

It is sensible to control your exposure to these temptations – the fewer encounters with temptation, the fewer times you can succumb.  While self-control can strengthen over time, it can also weaken in an instant.  We are, after all, human and fallible.

Limiting exposure to known temptations is particularly important as people tend to overestimate the strength of their self-control, another one of those pesky cognitive biases.  This overestimation is exacerbated by the fact that it is used as the basis for greater exposure to temptation.  Can you guess what happens?  Even when a known reward is imminent and the costs of delay appear relatively innocuous, the challenge to self-control can be substantial:

Control over your behaviour isn’t perfect, in part because the control you have over your situation isn’t perfect.  You believe you have greater self-control than you actually have, you seek out tempting situations as a result and then you succumb to temptation.  It’s like doing laps of lapse and relapse.

Perhaps it’s better to ditch the concept of self-control and only think in terms of self-management.  What do you think?  Sorry, I can’t understand what you’re saying when you have a mouth full of marshmallows!

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

July 25th, 2010 | Related | 0 Comments

Every Sunday, ’tis nobler presents seven things that you may find inspiring, intriguing and informative.  Enjoy!

What caffeine actually does to your brain

This is why activity should be built into your whole day rather than just a bit of exercise for part of the day.

The invisible highway is not what you might imagine from the name.

It is often more of a breeze than a storm anyway – forget brainstorming if you want creative outcomes. 

Clear, credible and convincing – what do you think of ‘How to feed the world’?

A guide to meditation for those who don’t, as yet, meditate. 

Heartless – the story of the tin man.

We’ve Been Framed

July 23rd, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

I’ve been framed.  You’ve been framed.  There’s no crime involved but we’ve been framed nevertheless.  Your family has been framed as well.  So have your friends – let’s add them to the long list of people who have been framed.  Mona Lisa was framed and hung, but that’s another story.  Framing is about influence, a process through which someone else tries to replace our ‘frame of reference’  with their ‘frame of reference’.

Framing is ubiquitous, intentional and influential.  It demonstrates how identical things can be perceived in very different ways as a function of the words used and their effect on our perceptions of gains and losses.  And, of course, framing is not a neutral process; it’s usually designed to elicit preferred responses:

Framing is about perspective – how you view a particular issue can be determined by the way in which the issue is presented.  When a coach or instructor suggests they can teach you to become a better ‘performer’ in 10 easy lessons, do they have their income or your learning uppermost in their mind?  Are you more likely to listen to them or the person who suggests that experiential learning is an extended process with no shortcuts?  Can you see valuable gains in one approach and ‘losses’ in the other?  If you view your decision making in terms of gain/loss and certainty/possibility, which combinations do you favour?

When you are described as a ‘natural’ who just needs some help, will you accept, and pay for, this help?  When someone else suggests there are no ‘naturals’, will you dismiss this because they don’t know about your special talents?  In experiential learning, words like ‘special’, ‘natural’, ‘talented’, ‘easy’ and ‘money-back guarantee’ are used to frame your thinking.

These tactics are certainly convincing but are you convinced they are certain?  Everybody likes to win rather than just hope for a win; everybody likes to avoid a loss rather than lose.  In experiential learning, I wonder what constitutes a gain and what constitutes a loss.  Perhaps a gain is fundamentally about finding your own way and a loss is replacing your way with that of another.

Add Information

July 22nd, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

You don’t have to go looking for advice – it’s everywhere, it’s free and freely given.  Do you want to know what I think of advice?  Who cares, I’ll tell you anyway.  Just listen to me, not them.  Now, before I tell you what I think of advice, I’ve been meaning to tell you how to deal with the boss at work, who to vote for, what religion is best and where you can buy the best bananas.  I’m a one-stop advice shop.  So, are you ready?  What’s that?  Bananas?  Well, you know the fruit shop on North Street ……

I hope this doesn’t seem too familiar but I’m sure it is.  After all, it’s the eleventh Commandment; thou shalt not withhold advice!  And this poses particular problems for experiential learners as they are constantly buffeted by often conflicting advice that reduces to – Do it this way, do it my way.

All forms of help provided to experiential learners have to be non-directive; otherwise, learners are being directed down a way other than their own.  Information is the crucial, perhaps only, component of effective advice.  This is more easily said than done but a commitment to giving information rather than direction is essential.

There is one exception and that is when technical knowledge is required.  Should I have bypass surgery?  As my (trusted) doctor, please give me the information I need AND your recommendation for me to consider.  When I consult you as someone with more experience at a particular activity (rather than as a subject matter expert), it is usually neither desirable nor possible for you to provide valid recommendations (why is this, do you think?).  Your recommendations will be general and descriptive in nature and have little overlap with your own actions.  If your recommendations don’t inform your actions, they will have no relevance to my actions other than to hinder me from finding my own way.

Christine Fellows  has a song called ‘Advice”; together with information from others that you can think through, maybe you just need to remember: “Don’t give out, don’t give in, what’s your hurry?”

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Ends Can End The Means

July 21st, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

There are as many ways to make progress as there are ways.  Why, then, are many people prepared to ignore them in favour of an unyielding focus on goal achievement?  Is the destination of paramount importance and, by extension, is the journey of negligible value?  Is the journey something to be completed as soon as possible and then discarded?

Everywhere you look and everyone you talk to raises the profile of goals; this is my aim, this is what I want to achieve, I will qualify by the age of 22 years, ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be, do, complete, visit or acquire.  Add your own verb to that list if you want.

People often assume that having goals is a good thing, and it is.  People often assume that these goals are a source of motivation, and they might be.  People often assume that a fixed attachment to their goals is both required and desirable and they are wrong.  Goals are an end, but they can also end the means, yet another behavioural paradox!

If you see your future as fixed, you are less likely to arrive there.  Being single-minded might be a good thing, although being multi-minded is equally possible and more desirable.  But there is a big difference between being single-minded and having a one-track mind, don’t you think?  Both could be considered goal-oriented but a one-track mind closes off options, ignores possibilities and detests deviation.  As a result, this fanaticism can lead to goal failure rather than goal achievement.  Adopting a rigid, straight line approach might be perceived as admirable but it’s often much less effective.  Be open to possibilities as they occur while also creating possibilities rather than waiting for them to appear; trying to get anywhere as fast as possible without entertaining alternatives can be entertaining, but only if you’re a spectator:

Learning can never be about dogmatic willpower, for what could be an exciting future will progressively narrow to a constantly receding pinpoint of light.   Don’t let your attachment to goals prevent you from reaching them!

Deef?

July 20th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

That heading doesn’t make sense.  What’s ‘deef’?  It could represent many things but, in this instance, it represents ‘feed’ back.  Feedback is rightly regarded as a crucial component in learning, although the actual use of feedback can be unhelpful at best, destructive at worst.

Listen to a tennis coach telling a young learner to ‘get the ball over the net’; there is little point to this feedback and it probably doesn’t even qualify as information in that it doesn’t reduce uncertainty for the learner (who is perfectly aware they are hitting the ball into the net and probably unaware of what they are doing incorrectly).  Does this seem like helpful deef to you?

As a learner driver, you hear a car horn sound – was that warning directed at you?  Was it in fact a warning?  What was it warning you (or others) about?  There are many more examples.  As an experiential learner, you’ll realise that feedback is often absent, hidden or ambiguous.  In the real world, feedback is as scarce as deef!

So, how should you extract useful feedback from your learning experiences, given that it has to be prompt and not delayed, anticipated and not unexpected, specific and not general, constructive and not dispiriting.  Who is in the best position to analyse and understand each and every one of your learning sessions, embedded as they are in your day-to-day life?  Who can you always rely on to be there?  In the words of Baby Tate , who is best able to ‘see what you done done’?

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Who can ‘see what you done done’ in ways that guide and enhance your journey?  Initially, Yvonne Or Ursula?  At the start, Yvette Or Uma?  Finally, GarY tO LulU?  These may be as cryptic as ‘deef’ appeared to be but it’s always the same answer – YOU.

But wait, there’s more.  Research has shown that the awareness that prompt (external) feedback is available moderates expectations of performance while substantially improving actual task performance (with a likely motivational link between these two effects).  If, through self-management, you become your own supervisor and frequently review where you’ve been and where you’re going as a learner, does it seem reasonable that you would also perform better?

Double Doubt

July 19th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

As an experiential learner, there is no doubt.  Sorry, there is no doubt that I didn’t finish that sentence.

As an experiential learner, there is no doubt that you will have doubts.  Doubtless, you will often be doubtful.  Can I do this?  What will happen if I mess it up?  Won’t they laugh at me?  What should I do next?  Am I stupid?  Why can’t I get the hang of this?  Why am I so clumsy?  It’s very doubtful that these doubting questions are all the doubts you will have.  Wherever there’s a way to learn, there’s a will to doubt.

Doubt takes off in many directions; it can lead to anguish, fear, hesitation or regret.  Be in no doubt that doubt has a large opportunity cost, particularly from the things that doubt prevents you from doing.  It is an effort to overcome doubt and walk through the door:

But ‘walking through the door’ is not always easily achievable – doubt can dominate.  It’s not possible to simply dismiss your doubts; however, doubling up on your doubts could be a solution.  If you have doubts about your learning and/or abilities, then why not doubt your doubts?

Research has suggested that it’s better to question your doubts – be doubtful about them – and, through this internal interrogation, turn the certainty that you cannot into a possibility that you can.  Think of this as untying the ‘not’ and discarding it.

Rather than learning in the shadows of self-doubt, realise that these doubts do not reflect certainties but simply possibilities that can be managed and reduced, if not eliminated.  Fail to doubt your doubts and they may become self-fulfilling prophecies; doubt your doubts and become self-fulfilling.  Do you have any doubts about your doubts?  You do – that’s great news!

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

July 18th, 2010 | Related | 0 Comments

Every Sunday, ’tis nobler presents seven things that you may find inspiring, intriguing and informative.  Enjoy!

This is fascinating – if I tell you what to look for, you’ll perform better than if I show you what to look for.

Having a whale of a time can involve shouting

Facts?  FACTS?  You can’t handle the facts!   

Welcome to awkward family photos.  I did say, “Awkward”! 

Gulp, don’t tell me that time is running out for ….. time

Here’s a link to The Album Leaf, which gives me an excuse to stream a beautiful song (Until The Last) for a slow down Sunday as I remember my Dad’s birthday:

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When they reach 70,000 feet, it is simply and staggeringly beautiful

Free Can Be Expensive

July 16th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

The competing issues of free will and determinism have been discussed by philosophers and others for a very long time.  Find Your Own Way requires experiential learners to exercise their will freely as a means of shaping and sustaining the most effective and efficient learning process for them.  They must be determined (but not ‘be determined’) in this regard for, as experiential learners, they must not be seen as mindless instruments controlled by outsiders:

Freedom is central but not absolute in the ‘tis nobler learning model for there is a way in which free will becomes both expensive and undesirable.  Fortunately, you can avoid this significant expense if you are dedicated to making the effort to learn experientially.

One of the most fundamental benefits of sustained experiential learning is the performance shift from manual to automatic control.  You are aware that manual control is very demanding as you’ve felt it firsthand at the start of your various experiential learning journeys to date.  In contrast, automatic control is essentially effortless – you have personal experience of being able to operate successfully and efficiently on ‘auto-pilot’.  This doesn’t mean that you’ve tuned out; rather, it means that you’re really switched on and tuned in!

In some really clever research, the difference between responding automatically and responding intentionally was measured across visual search tasks.  The results indicated that operating under manual control increased the time needed by 200% – 300% compared to when participants operated on ‘auto-pilot’.  In performance terms, free will comes at a considerable cost.

Improved efficiency of operation supports greater effectiveness of operation for you are able to do more with less effort.  And that’s a good way to measure your learning journey – from doing less with more effort to doing more with less effort.  As ‘tis nobler says, “Effort is essential”, more or less!

Other Shoes

July 15th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

There are many things tempting you away from experiential learning or behavioural change.  Wouldn’t you rather watch TV than fit in another practice session?  If you scoff that pizza before tea, can’t you walk an extra 20 minutes after your evening meal?  If you give in to temptation now, can’t you resist it tomorrow?  Surely losing the plot doesn’t matter if you find it again.

Think through what you’re doing.  Think through what it means.  Think through where this might lead.  Think through how you are finding your own way.  Be yourself at all times and stay in control.

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes.  See yourself as others see you.  Be someone else occasionally and stay in control.

Isn’t this a contradiction?  How does being someone else help you stay in control?  One factor that has been shown to improve self-control is distance – the further away something is, the easier it is to resist.  If a chocolate éclair is served up to you on a plate (literally), it is more difficult to resist than if you had to travel across town to get the very same éclair.  But this is a literal approach to distance, let’s go lateral.  Let’s move from my head to yours – I want to see me through your eyes.

Putting yourself in other shoes can help you succeed in your own.  Distance, whether it is physical or psychological, is one way to enhance self-control and maintain your own journey.

Lines And Spaces

July 14th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

People often talk about the need to develop good habits, as though habits were interchangeable with skills.  They share some characteristics but habits are much ‘smaller’, less flexible and potentially more predictable.  Habits take much less time to develop, from a few dozen to a few hundred hours; skill takes much, much longer.  Think of habits as lines and skills as spaces; habits are specific, skills are general.  Habits are towns, skills are continents.

Lines can exist in space but there is no space in a line.  You can only move along a line; in a space, you can move in any direction you choose.  A specific situation triggers the habit whereas skills operate across situations.  Lines are static, spaces can be dynamic.  The link between situation and habit is explicit and known to the learner; skill learning is implicit in the situation, with the learner often being unaware of what is actually being learnt.  One of the consequences of experiential learning is the inability to verbalise performance.

Having commenced as goal-driven activities, both habits and skills become ends in themselves.  Both are therefore (and unsurprisingly) difficult to control or vary by altering goals – there is little point, given the learning, reinforcement and repetition of apparently successful behaviours, in trying to extinguish habits or modify skills by announcing that your goal has changed.  Habits are more effectively controlled by inhibiting habitual behaviours once they have been activated or reducing exposure to trigger situations.  There is evidence that effortful self-control can override or replace habits.  The challenges of change and self-management are much greater for skills.  Skills are so much more than the structured execution of habits.

Positive habits can reinforce the commitment to, and execution of, skills while negative habits may, over time, supplant some aspects of skilled performance.  Thus, the effect of bad habits can spread and infect other behaviours.  Perhaps it’s time to draw a line in the sand where bad habits are concerned – just appreciate the goodness of friends:

Imagine the differences between constructing a complex space and drawing a line and reflect these differences in your preparation and learning.  But don’t dismiss habits completely – make a habit of longer, wider, deeper practice!

A Prompt Or A Problem?

July 13th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

As an experiential learner, you’ll have to deal constantly with uncertainty.  One way to do this is to fill in the gaps yourself, using expectancies (or likelihoods) derived from your experience to date.  When you don’t know, you’ll fill in the gap with what you (have come to) expect, with this information becoming increasingly refined over time.  But that’s another story.

You can also follow the lead of others.  This is where the concept of social proof – a fundamental relationship between individual and group – arrives to muddy the waters for learners.  When uncertain what to do in a given circumstance, a person will often assume that those around him know what they are doing and thus provide the necessary guidance.  I’ll do what they are doing because they know and I don’t – a conclusion that inexperienced learners will often reach.

Social proof is meant to help but it can often hamper, particularly when novices try to use it, and the potential culprit in social proof is normative standards.  Normative standards are the informal behavioural ‘values’ that are shared and accepted by broad user groups (e.g. drivers, lawyers, athletes etc).  While they may have some overlap with formal rules and regulations, they can also be (substantially) different.  While many of our experiential ‘worlds’ have a formal framework, our behaviour reflects much greater flexibility within and beyond this framework. 

Trying to behave like those with much more experience creates a host of problems.  You can pretend that these problems don’t exist and that this approach is OK but you’d need to convince yourself that, as a novice, you’re the same as others who have been playing the sport, driving the car or doing the job much longer than you have.  In her song “I Don’t Know”, Allison Crowe  sings “And I won’t try to be judgemental, I won’t try to be holier than thou, I don’t get this, And I am not going to pretend I do.

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Just seeing what others do doesn’t enable you to imitate them.  Knowing what they’re doing doesn’t mean you’ll understand their actions.  As an experiential learner, you must find your own way rather than try to follow the path shared by those with more experience and a more developed skills base.

Social proof can be a prompt or a problem – only you can decide which one applies at any given time and what you’re going to do about it.

Blinded?

July 12th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

How often have you heard somebody exclaim, “Just pay attention!”?  There is an opportunity cost for attention – attending to one thing may exclude or inhibit other things – but there are other dimensions to attention that can have significant effects.  Welcome to the surprising world of change blindness.

If you expect to see something, will you only ever see what you expect?  If you don’t expect to see something change, will you ever notice that this very something has changed?  In general terms, the answer to the first question is ‘Yes’ and the answer to the second question is ‘No’.  In a range of circumstances, you often only see what you expect and you often don’t see things change when they do change.  This phenomenon is called change blindness.  Before going on, though, let’s have a short break with a Cluedo-style video:

You were probably primed to expect change – did it make much of a difference?  These changes may not pass without notice – there is recent evidence that these types of change may be detected subconsciously and can influence subsequent actions, even when people have no conscious awareness of any changes.

You can look without seeing, you can see without noticing and you can both notice change and be affected by it without awareness of this change.  What a tangled web we weave when we try to perceive!  How can you reconcile this common failure to notice gross changes in your environment with the capacity, enhanced through experience, to respond to very subtle changes?  There is no single answer to this question – think about the roles of relevance, priority, attention, workload and goals.

With experience comes greater control, over your own actions and the effect you intend to have on your situation.  Nevertheless, control can be ephemeral at times.  Doesn’t this reinforce the value of ongoing self-management?

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

July 11th, 2010 | Related | 0 Comments

Every Sunday, ’tis nobler presents seven things that you may find inspiring, intriguing and informative.  Enjoy!

There’s no place for tokenism and every place for sensible environmental effort.  People do know the difference.

Instant expert?  It’s all relative, I guess.

Is that a blip on the radar screen?  No, it’s a cargo blimp.

What the world eats – I found the contrasts in types, costs and favourites fascinating.  I’m off for a snack!

So you think a year is just a year, do you?  Think again!

This research suggests a different relationship to that normally proposed between childhood obesity and physical activity.

This is a brilliant stop motion video that charts the journey from the creation of the universe to – well, let’s just say it’s our responsibility to create and sustain a different ending!

Principles versus rules

July 10th, 2010 | Strategic | 0 Comments

There is a huge industry built on the premise that everybody within it holds the (different) key to educational excellence, personal happiness and untold riches.  The only requirement for outsiders is to do what they say, usually by reading their book.  It couldn’t be any easier, primarily because ease and convenience are significant selling points.  And, therefore, it is as easy as, um, buying a book.

Sigh.

Rules, habits, tips, strategies and recipes all fail because they can’t be any simpler.  In fact, they are so simple, they are simplistic.  Einstein said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”; the education, training and self-help industries weren’t listening.

The ‘tis nobler learning model is not based on rules; ‘tis nobler doesn’t appreciate the limited effect (or misguided affect) of rules-based experiential learning.  Rather, the ‘tis nobler model is based on principles.  The advantages of principles over rules are:

Principles define orientations, rules define positions.

Principles enable flexibility, rules impose constraints.

Principles allow creativity, rules require rigidity.

Principles nurture agility, rules demand inertia.

Principles acknowledge that only your size fits you, rules prescribe one size fits all.

Find Your Own Way is not a catchcry, it is the only sensible interpretation of the experiential learning process.  The principles underpinning FYOW are enabling, not limiting because imposing limits, however well-intentioned, is to dilute learning.  To realise FYOW’s potential, there can be no half measures, no tokenism and no lingering attachment to the traditional didactic model.

Within and beyond experiential learning and behavioural change principles are two core values, passion and compassion.  This is a statement of profound purpose:

Experiential learning will affect every aspect of your life.  Everybody is capable of doing all of the ‘ordinary things’ extraordinarily well and the things that are of especial importance to them just as successfully.  Persistent effort and authentic engagement are the keys and they are available to all.  Experiential learning can also be a profound purpose, if you so choose.

Details, Details

July 9th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

They say the devil is in the detail.  As an inexperienced learner, that is certainly true.  The skill you’re trying to acquire can appear opaque and impenetrable, awash with so many details that it can be overwhelming.  How will you ever make sense of everything that’s going on?  How will you ever do everything that you need to do?  The answer to these questions is always the same – the quantity, quality and robustness of experience, experience that is longer, wider and deeper.

The role of details changes significantly as you gain experience and understanding.  At the start, your performance is mostly determined by the direct presence of details.  Inexperienced learners operate on the basis of details and they respond on the basis of details.  How could they do anything different?  For them, their learning world is comprised of nothing but details.  Consequently, details are missed, ignored or misinterpreted.  Actions are concurrent or delayed, rarely anticipatory, and often ballistic.  This is no way to operate except that it does generally reflect novices trying to do as well as they can.

But there is a progressive transition; with experience, you’ll operate on the basis of patterns produced through the holistic combination of details.  Individual details are still very important though as experienced learners respond to (subtle) pattern changes involving the variation in, or absence of, expected details.

Details lead to patterns and patterns have variations in their detail; details never depart the scene:

Appreciate both the scene and the details that comprise it because that is what you’ll gain through experience – an appreciation of the details, the pattern and their interactions.