Archive for September, 2010

Hacking The Usual

September 30th, 2010 | Strategic | 0 Comments

Once, hacking was confined to breaching the security of computer systems, often for malicious purposes.  Now, hacking has a much more general and constructive meaning – it’s all about positive disruption.  Many ‘systems’ are content with the status quo as it’s comfortable, satisfactory and reasonable.  Change, should it occur at all, is modest and incremental.  This form of ‘change’ may not affect the substance of activities; rather, it may just tinker with the appearance.  Welcome to the world of branding and re-branding!

Hackers look at the way things are and imagine very different, much better ways of doing things.  They aren’t interested in marginal improvements; they are interested in significant enhancement, a different way.  People may look at a ‘hack’ and then wonder why things weren’t always done that way.  Hackers aren’t interested in ‘business as usual’ :

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

In one sense, hacking starts in the gap between the empirical and the experiential, between what the evidence suggests and what the actual experience is.  A great example is education, which can have a large gap between theory and practice.  The difference between educational rhetoric and educational realities can be of Grand Canyon proportions.  If there was one system that would have an overriding interest in learning and aligning itself with best practice, surely it would the education system.  But this is often not the case.

There are many examples, perhaps the best of which is the empirical debunking of the learning styles approach.  There is a chasm between its popularity and lack of empirical support.  Nevertheless, poor recipes for learning and study are continually reinforced.  Once you leave the ‘controlled’ educational environment and enter the world of experiential learning, the relevance and value of these recipes diminishes greatly.  A ‘one size fits all’ approach does not work in the classroom so how can a ‘one size fits you’ approach work outside the classroom? 

Your experiential learning and behavioural change needs can never be business as usual.  It’s a question of ‘your size fits you’ and you get to define ‘your size’ on an ongoing basis, for ‘your size’ and your needs will change over time.  This approach remains unusual, so it is up to you to transform it to the usual.  Find your own way, usually by hacking the usual.

It’s Your TOSS

September 29th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

There is a natural order in experiential learning and behavioural change with which you should comply.  There is a system by which you should abide.  There is a structure to which you should adhere.

But the order, system and structure are not what you might be expecting in a world that values the regular, the methodical and the incremental.  The order, system (and) structure – TOSS – traditional arrangement is something that you need not give a toss about.  Toss it if you like.  Unless you decide to keep it, that is, for it is, after all, your journey to shape and sustain.

Still, TOSS traditions – the usual recipes and formulas – make as much sense to ‘tis nobler as Julie Fader saying goodbye before hello:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You can toss tradition whilst retaining a TOSS.  Think of your TOSS as before, during and after rather than this before that or any version of walk before you run.  Think of your TOSS as a daily frame rather than a global framework.  Before, during and after and then repeat; before, during and after.  It is possible for ‘after’ to be intermittent rather than contained and, as such, any ‘after’ might bump into the next before.  This is why it’s a journey and not a series of classes!

Your own TOSS puts you in control and dispenses with recipes that may be set out by others.  Your own TOSS aligns your short term interests with your longer term objectives.  Your own TOSS provides the flexibility and variety needed to sustain an extended journey.  Your own TOSS allows you to jump off the deep end if that’s what you want to do, doing so while managing the experience to offset your inexperience.

There are many studies and meta-analyses of studies that present ideas for making learning activities as useful as possible and there’s one idea that’s always at or near the top of the list – goal orientation.  Before, during and after, your learning TOSS should reinforce the ‘why’ of your effort – it’s not to finish quickly, it’s not to get more money, it’s not to show off to friends, it’s not about passing a test and it’s not to move on to something else.

It’s about learning, before, during and after your doing.  Aim for that and do that.  It’s your TOSS.

LAW Connections

September 28th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

Do you remember the song “I fought the law (and the law won)”, originally recorded by Sonny Curtis and the Crickets?  The best cover versions were put out by the Bobby Fuller Four and The Clash.  But this post isn’t about the law; neither is it about fighting, it’s more about a struggle.

The LAW in this post refers to a well-known trilogy in experiential learning and behavioural change – liking, achieving, wanting (although I’ve put them in that order so that the acronym would make some sense).  The logical sequence would be WAL, although logic can go out the window when struggling with WAL.

How are wanting and liking connected when achieving is the go-between?  Do we want what we haven’t got and do we still like it when we get it?  WAL can be confusing if there are variations driven by achievement and, in these variations, you can lose yourself:

The evidence indicates that achieving something that you really want can lead to you liking it less.  Conversely, achieving something that you weren’t too interested in can lead to you liking it more.  It seems that differences in wanting can produce the opposite difference in liking, once the goal in question has been achieved.  As with any rule, there are exceptions.

One of the ways to offset this inverse wanting/liking relationship is to engage with the achievement process.  If you have worked diligently, if you haven’t had achievement handed to you on a plate, if achievement is produced by your effort and involvement, wanting and liking do align.

Do what you want.  Want to try rather than be found wanting.  Like the effort as much as the outcome.  Want more, try more, like more.  Find your own WAL way.

My Eyes, Your Eyes

September 27th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

While it is a statistical impossibility, apparently everybody is better than everybody else.  This was addressed in ‘Compounding’, which stated:

Personal distortion can be created and sustained because:

I am too inexperienced to know how inexperienced I am.

And this is a real problem, largely because the learner doesn’t realise that a problem exists for them and then is unaware of the need to manage the learning challenge.  They usually recognise that challenges exist for their peers but they themselves ‘know’ they have more talent or natural ability.  It is a statistical impossibility for everyone to be above-average; this miscalibration exacerbates the situation.

Overconfidence in your ability to perform a skill is a very common feature in experiential learners.  There have been a number of explanations proposed for this feature; one that has received recent empirical support emphasises the social dimension.  After a series of experiments, researchers concluded that reporting of overconfident estimates reflects a desire to communicate our apparent strengths to others.  Perhaps we are made up to make ourselves look better; the ‘social’ in social learning can be both an asset and a liability.

It is unfortunate if learners are more concerned about how they look in the eyes of others rather than how they look in their own eyes.  This video presents a beautiful Ben Harper lullaby titled “Happy Ever After In Your Eyes”; seeing happiness in your eyes should always be produced by your happiness or my honesty:

Placing more emphasis on convincing others that there is no distortion instead of making the sustained effort to make this appearance real rather than apparent may have some short term benefits.  It is possible to fool some of the people some of the time.  But that’s not the real concern here – there is another, deeper question that should influence your effort, your learning and your ongoing commitment to change:

“Are you able and willing to fool yourself all of the time?”  Look for the answer in your eyes, not mine or theirs.

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

September 26th, 2010 | Related | 0 Comments

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

Jane Austen’s manuscripts, messy revisions and all.

Making future magic – light painting with the iPad.

Simulating a supernova explosion.

Is your life so interesting that you’d want, need or use a Looxcie?

Another fantastic OK Go music video, this time with some special friends.

Mapping stereotypes.

He tapped the wall just after the start and then nudged a traffic cone; apart from that, this is faultless and amazing – Ken Block, Gymkhana 3.


September 24th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

It is possible that ‘probably’ is an ill-defined word.  Being an ill-defined word may be improbable, perhaps, but not impossible.  I’m just not sure how I could possibly establish how probable this assertion is.  As Jill Barber sings, “What are the chances”,

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

What are the chances?  Establishing the probability of an event occurring can be a real challenge, even when the event is hypothetical.  This is demonstrated in many attempts to answer questions about probability during statistics examinations:

“It is desirable to study for this exam; if you do not study, there is an 80% chance that you will fail.  Even if you do study, there is a 20% chance that you’ll still fail.  History indicates that only 60% of students will study for the exam.”

If you didn’t study, what are the chances that you failed the exam?  If you studied, what are the chances that you failed the exam?  What is the chance that Student X will pass the exam (assuming study behaviour is the only variable)?  Research has shown that it is easier to solve questions like these by translating them into simple counting activities (if there are 100 students, 60 will study etc) instead of trying to deal with percentages and proportions.  Nevertheless, when you start introducing conditional probabilities (if this, then that), applying the necessary logic can be both difficult and daunting.  When you increase the number of conditions, the necessary logic, while more difficult and daunting, becomes increasingly irrelevant.  If your life has essentially infinite possibilities, all of which have a non-zero probability and many of which are dependent on most everything else, is there any point in trying to establish the chances?

Experiential learning and behavioural change are underpinned by conditional probabilities but you don’t really need to think consciously about them (unless they relate to obvious, perhaps risky, events, in which case you need to manage them).  Through experience, your learning and behaviour will become attuned to relative probabilities – the patterns that ‘tis nobler has talked about before.  Sometimes, these are called expectancies and they reflect your understanding of the world and how it works.  Much of your time will be based on expecting the expected, except for those occasions when you need to expect the less-expected.  Infrequently, you’ll have to expect the unexpected.

You do not need mathematical talent to assess the chances.  You don’t need to spend your time worrying over conditional probabilities.  But you do need lots of experience in order to incorporate increasingly refined expectancies.  Many people think it’s all about expecting the unexpected but this is less important than monitoring and anticipating the range of expected events.

With experience, you’ll know what the chances are.  There’s no ‘probably’ about it.

Understanding To Learn

September 23rd, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

Isn’t that the wrong way around – shouldn’t it be learning to understand?  After all, a goal of experiential learning and behavioural change is to increase your level of understanding so that the world makes sense.  Sense enables prediction and sense enables monitoring, two directly linked activities that underpin your performance.

Understanding can come before and after learning, which isn’t surprising if you stop to think about it.  The type that comes before learning is all about opportunities rather than outcomes, enabling you to increase the learning value of your experience by optimising the LWD (longer, wider, deeper) characteristics of that experience.  You can’t understand ‘what’ at this point but you can understand the ‘how’.  The type that comes after learning (not that learning ever stops) reflects outcomes, with these outcomes being proportional to the quality of your experiences.  Nothing ventured, little learnt.

And sometimes these outcomes are different to what you expected:

But the value of experiential learning effort is usually not this explicit, and this is where feedback is so important.  You may not know exactly what you’re learning but you’ll always have a feel for how your journey is going.  Textbooks could be filled on the issue of feedback, and they have been, but let’s narrow the focus down as much as possible.  In the early stages of a learning journey, all feedback should be motivating and this generally means positive.  However well-intentioned, negative feedback has greater potential to affect your ‘how’ of learning adversely; if you constrain or abandon the ‘how’ due to this negative feedback, the ‘what’ will inevitably suffer.

You may think that, with the passage of time,  feedback should make a gradual transition from positive to negative, from ‘rosy’ to realistic but ‘tis nobler sees it slightly differently.  Once the ‘how’ has been sufficiently embedded to avoid being dislodged from your daily activities, feedback, particularly from yourself, should become progressively more accurate.  Accuracy emanates from both activity and your real involvement in this activity.

Understanding to learn and learning to understand – be positive then accurate.

Go That Way

September 22nd, 2010 | Strategic | 0 Comments

Here’s a simple guide to heart transplantation:

Open up the chest, take out heart and replace with new heart.  Close the chest.

Here’s a simple guide to driving a car:

Not too fast, not too close, concentrate.

Here’s a simple guide to downhill skiing:

Not one of these guides is wrong; they are all just woefully and totally inadequate.  ‘tis nobler wonders how different these guides are to the support, or perhaps direction, you receive from those around you.

Teachers, trainers, instructors, coaches, supervisors, parents and peers can all make important contributions to your learning journey.  But they cannot take this journey for you; you can never delegate your learning needs to them.  Retaining the integrity of finding your own way at all times while incorporating the wisdom of others, once you have thought through what has been said and made your own decisions on what it means for you, is a critical and ongoing balancing act.

It can be difficult and frustrating but finding your own way is the only true way.  If you think that it is possible to learn by being a passive recipient rather than an active participant, ‘tis nobler can only provide the following sage advice:

“Go that way, really fast.  If something gets in your way,…….. turn.”

And now you can answer the obvious question – “Did this help or not?”

More And Less

September 21st, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

Usually, people say, “more or less.”  So why is the title for this post More AND Less?  Here’s a clue:

Whether we think of cyclists in a race, water down a hillside or migrating birds, a common link is efficiency – in one sense, the (collective) path of least resistance.  Increasing experience as a learner also produces greater efficiency – you are able to do much more with much less effort.  But, as a learner, the relationship with resistance (least or otherwise) is less straightforward.

Detailed research on the personal and social dynamics of people in public spaces throws up some interesting findings.  An individual is more likely to conform to the efficiency model – they move faster than groups do, getting where they want to go more quickly without expending undue effort.

Conversely, groups walk more slowly and that, as groups get larger, their speeds get slower.  This is not be explained by difficulty of movement but is a consequence of their grouping.  However, the group structure does vary as a function of their (social) environment; when able to, individuals in a group walk side by side but, in the presence of others, groups form a normal V or U shape (opposite the flying V that cyclists of birds normally form).  Group leaders are more likely to feature in the middle of the V or U.

How do we tie more and less, efficiency, resistance and personal/group behaviour in public places together?  ‘tis nobler will do it (you may do it differently – ’tis nobler hopes you do) by thinking about consistency and priorities.  Previously, we’d talked about the explanatory power of situations relative to personality (permalink); this evidence suggests your priority is not always efficiency, that you may be inconsistent on matters of consistency and that you’ll place more emphasis on goals other than learning in potential learning situations.

Learning is about doing more with less.  Sometimes you’ll do more.  Sometimes, though, you’ll do less as other things are more important than doing more with less.  Neither consistency nor priority is absolute and unchanging.  And that’s about it, more and less.

Say Or Tell?

September 20th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

It’s a common phrase, one that you hear all the time:  “I tell you what.” 

And then people proceed to tell you ‘what’, usually prescribing or proscribing the way they believe issues should be dealt with or how they think others should behave.

But if you want to encourage me to change my behaviour, what should you tell me?  Actually, it’s probably better to ask, “What should you say?”, for the sender is more important than the receiver for the effectiveness of persuasive communication.  Where an individual is concerned, ‘tis nobler has previously talked about turning telling off; where interpersonal communication is concerned, it is preferable to concentrate on the quality of your message rather than the perceived desirability for others to change their behaviour.  It’s often unproductive and always unsustainable to tell people what they should do, regardless of how compelling you believe this course of action is.  A commitment to your way leads to contention, exhortation and argument; as The Cranberries sing, there’s no need to argue:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

There are many dimensions to the persuasion process but the research gives clear guidance on how information should be used and, therefore, what you should say.  Do you think it is best to give information on what people are currently doing (descriptive norms)?  Can you reduce vandalism or binge drinking, as examples, by stating that people are damaging property or drinking excessively?  Do descriptions of occurrence discourage?

The answer is ‘No’.  The evidence indicates that the use of this type of normative information leads to a higher likelihood that those receiving these messages will engage in the very behaviour the message aims to deter!  The saying about roads, Hell and good intentions comes to mind – look/listen to how many ‘naughty’ people there are, without realising that your admonitory pronouncements are encouragement rather than deterrence.

It is more effective to be active; presenting information on social disapproval of the target behaviour has been shown to discourage this behaviour.  But this type of approach must be normative rather than condemnatory.  Injunctive is a more powerful form of information than its descriptive counterparts.  Seek to explain in a social context rather than simply describe.  There is a powerful parallel with experiential learning, which often fails to transcend the descriptive domain.

Naturally, you can’t deal with this aspect of persuasion in isolation.  However, if you aim to discourage and not encourage, explain socially rather than describe globally.  Do say, don’t tell.

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

September 19th, 2010 | Related | 0 Comments

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

The habits of (mathematical) minds.

Chaos is absolute, not relative.

Yes, I know it’s just a chalk drawing on the footpath …. but she’s really riding that tiger!

I am much more likely to go out and buy a Pringle of Scotland jumper (which, admittedly, is still very unlikely) because of this.

The world would be a better place if the wealthy were happier.

Staggeringly beautiful photographs from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich’s 2010 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition.

Stylish sci-fi short film – would you have the courage to take The Leap?

Flowing Slowly

September 17th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

With increasing experience as a learner, you start to flow.  What was once ballistic or choppy becomes smooth, what was once loose becomes controlled and what was once pressured becomes unhurried.  ‘Find your own way’ is not about ‘going with the flow’; it is, importantly, about flowing as you’re going! 

And then the flow slows!  This is yet another benefit of sustained and engaged effort.  In a previous post – Fro And To – the two-way relationship between time and fun was explored:

It turns out perceptions of time and fun, just like perceptions of other related combinations, can operate in both directions.  That is, you can manipulate either one to produce the appropriate perception of the other.  It’s not a case of ‘to’, it’s a case of to and fro, and fro and to.

Now, research has indicated that being experienced can be associated with a slower perception of time – the subjective perception of time is longer than it actually is because the performer is more fluent and very efficient.  That is, ‘experts’ feel they have had more time to complete tasks, answer questions or implement skills than novice performers.  Expertise seems to slow time.

One example of this could be the popular notion of ‘being in the zone’; not only are you doing everything effectively and efficiently but you seem to have all the time in the world in which to do it.  Everything seems to be unfolding in slow motion, allowing you plenty of time to anticipate, act and monitor your actions.  It’s like you are living your life at 1000 frames per second but the world around you is moving at 50 frames per second:

And there’s another connection to happiness here.  As a learner, the repeated exposure to the world around you allows you to assemble ‘patterns’ from the ‘bits’ and this leads to perceptual fluency.  This type of fluency, another form of flow, has a flow-on (pun intended) effect to happiness.

First, you need to achieve the flow.  From the flow comes the slow.  And when you’re flowing slowly, along comes the smile!


September 16th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

Happy was one of the Seven Dwarfs in the tale of Snow White.  Can you name the other six?  This question introduces the issue of the magical number 7 (plus or minus 2); that’s a story for another day although, just quickly, one way to overcome these ‘magical’ constraints is through the chunking of information.  And chunking is a way to move away from the bits and move towards the patterns.  It allows you to find your own way, all at once.

Happy was happy and Grumpy was grumpy, but I’m not sure whether Doc was a qualified medical practitioner.  Happiness and grumpiness are affective states.  We are all affected by affect – the experience of emotion – in everything that we do and on each occasion that we do it.  We’re not automatons that are programmed to go through the (limited) motions in order to achieve success on a small and repetitive set of tasks.

We want our experiential learning and behavioural change to be effective; we know that our experiential learning and behavioural change will always be affective.

Can you be effective when affective?  Obviously, it is a matter of degree (in a similar way to arousal) – too much or too little and performance suffers.  But being happy could be viewed as a desirable precondition for learning.  Experiential learning can have a social dimension – learning with others – and research has shown that learners who are happy extract more value from their situation than those who are annoyed or frustrated.  Interestingly, being on the ‘same affective page’ – either all happy or all annoyed – can enhance the learning experience (defined as information transfer).  Still, as a general learning rule, it is better to be content than congruent!

So, I hope you can answer ‘Yes’ to the question Wendy Matthews poses – Are you happy, really happy?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

One way, of many ways, to increase your happiness is to imagine the absence rather than presence of a positive event in your life.  Thinking of things that you may have missed out on (but didn’t) makes people happier than just thinking about the things themselves.  This focus on ‘loss’ is an approach that most people do not associate with increased positive feelings.

As the first line of the song says, “I hope that you listen to the voices inside.”  Learn to be happy and be happy to learn.


September 15th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

As an experiential learner, understanding the world around you is your greatest challenge as appearances can be deceiving, even more so when some things don’t appear to appear.  But they are there, nevertheless.  Not seeing something doesn’t make it invisible but it can make it very surprising, when it eventually appears to you while having been there all the time.

So, appearances can be deceiving in a couple of ways.  Is it better to be fooled than unaware?  Are there things you can do that can reduce the chances of being misled because of something someone else did or something you failed to do?  Appearances, misleading appearances and unseen appearances, either separately or sometimes all three in the one place at the one time, can conspire to produce error.

This video is called The Other Sky – it presents things that appear as they are and things that appear as reflections.

Small actions – a breeze, a raindrop or a pebble – and appearances can alter, with significant consequences, not just where the action occurred but radiating out from that spot to affect a much larger area.  You may not be aware of the initial action – it could happen before you arrived, in the next office or around the corner – but that does not mean that you won’t be affected by the ripples.

Reflection is both a useful metaphor for cause, effect and spread while also being a powerful thinking strategy – reflect on appearances, actions and ripples.  What can you do to avoid being affected adversely by them?

The Right Time

September 14th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

In their song, ‘The Right Time’, The Corrs sing:

Keep it going, let’s not lose it, feel the flow,

Oh, flying free in a fantasy, with you I’ll go,

This is the right time, once in a lifetime,

Now something has entered my mind, shattering all of my thoughts,

It’s no good, it’s just one big waste of my time,


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

There are several learning concepts embedded in these lyrics – for example, persistence, self-regulation, fluency, and that’s just the first line from the excerpt.  There’s another issue, ‘shattering all of my thoughts ….’, one that’s not covered all that often, one that warrants some attention.  This issue is fragility, perhaps the opposite of resilience.

Effort must go into the experiential learning and change process for learning and change to occur.  At the same time, effort must be allocated to self management, behaviours that protect you from the pitfalls of inexperience.  Which do you think is of greater importance – learning or self management?  Perhaps importance is not the right criterion; it might be better to establish what the relationship is between them first.  What do you think the relationship is?

As experience is accrued, efficiency of performance ensues and more spare capacity becomes available.  However, you can never guarantee that sufficient capacity will always be available (or that you can deploy it effectively), reinforcing the need for proactive self management.  But self management also requires and consumes capacity and there will be times when, through either depletion or demand, self management will itself break down.  What do you think will be the consequences for task performance and behaviour?

Being cognitively or emotionally overloaded is just like being physically or mentally fatigued.  While these states are often linked to poorer task performance, it is important to realise that there is evidence to indicate that they can also negatively affect self management.  This may be shown by impulsive behaviours such as breakdowns (of management), breakouts (from management) and binges.  In short, you are more likely to engage in infrequent and atypical behaviour when self management is impaired.

It’s essential to manage your management as well as manage your learning for both will suffer when overloaded.  How will you strike the balance in order to maximise both at any point in time?  When you establish and sustain the balance that is best for you, you increase the chances that all times will be the right time.

All At Once

September 13th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

Can you be too switched on?  Can you try too hard?  Can you fail because you want to succeed too much?  If you focus, really focus, on the details, won’t you have a very detailed focus?  And isn’t a detailed focus a good thing?  If it is, why do people talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees?

Perhaps William George Horner or  Charles-Émile Reynaud might be able to throw some light on these sorts of issues as they invented the zoetrope and praxinoscope respectively.  Both of these devices use a number of small pictures and either slits or mirrors to create a big, animated picture.  Here’s a great music video that uses praxinoscopes for their visual effect (you can see how it was done here):

Hhmm, so you get an integrated big picture from a series of little bits.  This is similar to one of the benefits of experience – the ability to transcend the bits and deal with situations at a more holistic level.  When you commence, your learning space might seem like a large number of jigsaw puzzle pieces; rather than form a coherent pattern, you get lost in the details.  Experience doesn’t give you the bits, it gives you the pattern!  And operating at the level of patterns instead of bits produces an array of benefits.

There is some evidence that people might make better decisions if they do so without conscious thought, and this might lead to downplaying the value of analysis while reinforcing the apparent benefits of distraction or ‘intuition’.  However, what some ascribe to ‘intuition’ is more often a reflection of the benefits of increased experience, the ongoing development of mental models and a consequent reduction in intentional effort.

When you begin your experiential learning journey, you’ll only be able to see a few of the trees, not all the trees and certainly not the forest.  As you continue, the trees will form patterns; eventually, you’ll become very efficient at detecting patterns and deviations from them.  When you choose to do something because you’ve detected a deviation, often without conscious thought, you are reaping the benefits of experience, not intuition.

Intuition is intuitively appealing but is mistakenly thought of as separate from experience, something magical rather than derived from hard work and extensive preparation; effort has less appeal but much more value.  Find your own way, all at once.

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

September 12th, 2010 | Related | 0 Comments

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

21st Century enlightenment – another brilliant video in the RSA series.

I just can’t get enough of these fabulous music/dance mashups.

Change, change, change.  Isn’t anything constant in this Universe?

Watch the 10-photo slideshow here – are you concerned by what you (don’t) see!

Fantastic images of Saturn and its Moons.

I’ve always wondered why educational practices seem immune to education!

I know it’s a 45 minute video, but it’s a wonderful 45 minutes – Fermat’s Last Theorem.

The Wrong Frequency

September 10th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

The wrong frequency is another deliberately ambiguous title.  Ambiguity is one way to encourage effort and engagement.

Have you ever tuned a radio or TV and not got it quite right?  You’re getting some reception but it lacks clarity; you can make out what is being broadcast but it’s just not right.  Close enough is not good enough particularly when, with just a bit more effort, the improvement and enjoyment are significant.

Exactly the same applies to your learning and change efforts.  If you’re on the wrong frequency with the task, even if you’re just ‘off’ (less than fully engaged or with your mind wandering elsewhere), then the clarity of your connection will suffer.  Things may not seem all that different to you as you’re not tuned in sufficiently to notice.  Others probably won’t notice either as you’ll appear close enough for them to assume you are tuned in.  But close enough is not good enough!  If you’re not on the right frequency, you must be on the wrong frequency.

Cinema Red And Blue introduce a way of thinking about another type of wrong frequency when they sing:

Well, I’m not waiting any longer at the bottom of a learning curve ……

… The same mistakes again will be the end, the end, the end of me


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 Regardless of your level of experience, the potential for error remains ever-present; gaining varied and significant experience is the best way to reduce the frequency of errors (the ‘wrong’ frequency) but error will remain a constant companion.  You perform better, but never perfectly.  This ‘wrong’ frequency is never set to zero.

This ‘wrong’ frequency may also be wrong, that is, more than it should be if you don’t apply and sustain vigilant self-management on a continuing basis.  It is almost guaranteed that the times when you don’t think you need to manage your behaviour will be the precise times when this management will be most needed.

This second ‘wrong’ frequency can be managed and low or neglected and elevated.  This ‘wrong’ frequency cannot be eliminated but the first ‘wrong frequency’ can be.  Tune in correctly, switch on rather than turn off and participate in your learning actively rather than simply receive it passively; eliminate one sort of wrong frequency and the second sort will be minimised.  Firstly, do you understand which is which?  Secondly, are you frequently wrong in managing the wrong frequencies?


September 9th, 2010 | Strategic | 0 Comments

As you know, ‘tis nobler takes its name from Hamlet’s soliloquy – whether ‘tis nobler in the mind … – that addresses the value of effort.  The very first ‘tis nobler post  put this question in perspective by, if you know the soliloquy, supporting the latter course of action.  Hamlet may be one of the best known characters in literature but this post takes its direction from two other minor characters in Hamlet who are the central characters in the Tom Stoppard play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.  And direction is the operative word.

This play deals very cleverly with several philosophical issues – meaning, knowledge, destiny, free will – and, at one point, Guildenstern announces:

“We have not been …picked out…simply to be abandoned …set loose to find our own way…We are entitled to some direction… I would have thought”

We are entitled to some direction.  What does this mean for experiential learning and behavioural change?  This simple sentence raises three issues that each learner must resolve for themselves, entitlement, direction and balance.  While the first two are explicit, balance is embedded in the word ‘some’.  Some learners think that all you need to do is consult the instruction manual, all is revealed and mastery is immediately bestowed; others think that the instruction manual is not worth the paper it’s printed on:

In experiential learning and behavioural change, others can help but only you can do.  Even though there is much going on between your ears, think of experiential learning as ‘manual’ labour rather than something you extract from a manual.  Without the doing, experiential learning is a bit like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, futile movement rather than purposeful effort. 

Even if you have built the best deckchair ever by following the instructions, this approach won’t assist you in acquiring life skills that you can only gain through comprehensive experience.  Tuition, training, instruction, guidance and facilitation are all subordinate to your effort and engagement; they may make the process more efficient but only if your own efforts are making the process effective in the first place.


September 8th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

Do you remember when I suggested you turn telling off ?  Here’s an excerpt:

There is evidence that suggests that those who make requests of themselves perform better than those who impose requirements on themselves.  The pathways for this outcome aren’t clear; however, just as the external teaching model (You will) fails the experiential learner when imposed by outsiders, it makes sense that the internal teaching model (I will) also fails when it is imposed by the experiential learner.

Let’s now extend declarations beyond statements to knowledge.  There are various ways to categorise knowledge but, for experiential learning and behavioural change, the distinction that ‘tis nobler finds most useful is that between declarative and procedural knowledge.  The difference between declarative and procedural knowledge is the difference between ‘that’ and ‘how’:

I know that Tahiti is an island (declarative).  I know how to knit a scarf (procedural, and untrue for I don’t know how to do this).

While the distinction is clear, these two types of knowledge become messy and potentially antagonistic in experiential learning.  Think through the ways that these sorts of questions and statements interact:

How does that happen?  I know that it happens this way!  How do I do this?  I know how to do this! 

Can you imagine the interplay between objective and subjective, between accurate and miscalibrated and between confident and overconfident, to list just a few?  Can you imagine the interplay between knowing and doing, with doing being driven by experientially-acquired skills rather than book-derived knowledge?

In experiential learning, declarative knowledge is usually at a general and unhelpful level, even if it is accurate or defensible.  And of course, it is often inaccurate or indefensible simply because it will remain implicit in the experience that a learner is yet to gain.  Without this experience, declarative ‘knowledge’ is likely to reflect opinion or conjecture, both presented as fact.  If you want to state and abide by a declaration, this might be the best way to start:

We know that everybody has a right to freedom and equality, to dignity and safety.  Do we know how this is to be achieved?  In the same way, we know that novices can’t do as well as those with more experience.  Do we know how these differences are best overcome?

Find your own way.