Archive for December, 2010

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

December 26th, 2010 | Related | 0 Comments

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

Filmography 2010 – brilliant! 

The best of The Big Picture, 2010.

The science breakthroughs of 2010. 

Initially, we thought free will was a metaphysical entity. Today, I am joining a growing list of colleagues who are suggesting it is a quantitative, biological trait, a natural product of physical laws and biological evolution, a function of brains, maybe their most important one.

Ways to think about mathematics. 

Just when you thought we knew everything about matter that matters. 

One of the best Christmas songs you will ever hear  – ‘White wine in the sun’.

A Short Break

December 20th, 2010 | Strategic | 0 Comments

It’s time for some time out, and not before time.  If you’ve just dropped by, there’s plenty of stuff to read in the archives.

And much, much more stuff to think through as a result.  Until 2011 and ‘tis nobler’s return, spend some time staring out the window:

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.

And think about the ways in which you can disentangle the complexities of experiential learning and behavioural change.

Find your own way.

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

December 19th, 2010 | Related | 0 Comments

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

‘Thought of you’ – line dancing that isn’t line dancing! 

Magic and crosswords – watch to the very end. 

Annotated fully and executed brilliantly – is this the best (23 track) mashup album ever? 

Wow, this is one amazing music video

Hehehe, Hohoho

Zeitgeist 2010 – how we searched. 

We test so many things – why not our laws?

Near > Dear, Lost > Gained

December 17th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

‘tis nobler read about the Jeopardy Quiz Show challenge the other day that will pit human champions against a ‘thinking’ machine, similar to past contests between Grandmaster chess champions and their technological opponents.  This will provide an insight into how nuanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become and how far there is yet to go.  Is that the Singularity I see up ahead?

Our decision making is beset with nuance, opinion, hope and bias; these influences, and many more besides, play a much greater role than a logical, systematic analysis of the available data.  Synthesising a broad theme from the huge amount of work in this area leads to this ‘tis nobler adage:

It’s more important not to lose certain immediate inconsistencies.

If this sentence is unpacked, four things fall out – it’s more important not to lose, it’s more important to opt for certainty, it’s more important to favour the immediate and that these three produce the many inconsistencies in our choices.

When faced with a decision or dilemma, the odds are (for, after all, we live in a probabilistic world) that you will favour not losing over the possibility of winning even when the chances of each outcome are identical, you will favour a small certainty over a much better but less certain outcome and that you will favour taking immediate issues into account at the expense of broader, potentially much more important criteria.

And then there are all the other influences.  Perhaps all decision making reduces to a comparative assessment of whether what we lose in the fire, we gain in the flood:

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.

Every step of an experiential learning or behavioural change journey is accompanied by decisions and judgments.  Some are trivial, some matter, some are crucial and a few could be life-changing.  How will you discriminate between these types and then, within these types, how discriminating will you be?

Don’t Crave Denial, Imagine Craving!

December 15th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

Imagine a person who is struggling with their weight, smoking or exercise regime.  They are often told to stop thinking about chocolate, the next cigarette or the attraction of just sitting on the couch watching TV.  Despite the evidence for the failure of suppression, either at the cognitive or behavioural levels, many behavioural change programs remain based on denial.  ‘Don’t’ is a much more common feature than ‘do’.  While it doesn’t work, putting it out of your mind is still considered equivalent to putting it out of your life.

Now imagine an experienced performer – an athlete, artist, courtroom lawyer or writer.  They often tell themselves to visualise their success, to imagine clearing every hurdle with minimum clearance and immaculate stride pattern, to picture their performance and imagine being in control, producing great work or impeccable arguments.  Thinking that you can and imagining that you can leads to demonstrating that you can.  Putting it in your mind is an integral part of putting it in place in the real world.

Why should we unsuccessfully but frequently pursue denial on the one hand and embrace positive possibilities on the other?  Is this simply the difference between good and bad, between positive and negative?  Should we simply deny what’s bad and imagine what’s good?  Some recent research has illuminated these issues in a very interesting way.  And it’s a way that has significant implications for experiential learners and those attempting behavioural change.

The shortest summary of the findings is that we should crave imagination of our cravings rather than try to deny the existence of these cravings.  In this way, suppression or denial is replaced with visualisation and, guess what, this leads to less frequent ‘craving’ behaviour.  Imagining eating donuts or chocolate leads to less actual eating of donuts or chocolate!  Interestingly, just imagining donuts or chocolate didn’t produce these reductions, suggesting that what is imagined must be closely aligned with what is done.

Perhaps the imagination of an experience is closer to the actual experience than previously thought.  Can you think through the implications for experiential learning and behavioural change?

Just imagine:

Becoming True

December 13th, 2010 | Strategic | 0 Comments

Clichés are so hackneyed and so trite that we tend to be very dismissive of them.

Just take it one day at a time.  Ho-hum.  Time flies.  Yawn.  Tomorrow never comes.  Hrrumph.

But many clichés are true, something that is conveniently overlooked to avoid their real meaning in the here-and-now.  In the current circumstances, what does ‘just take it one day at a time’ really mean for me, right here, right now?

It’s a cliché to say that things can change in an instant.  But they can and they do.

Today, for ’tis nobler, they did and then, eventually, normal service was thankfully resumed.  Sometimes, unfortunately, normal service is not resumed; things have changed forever.

Please realise that clichés do become true, eventually but unpredictably:

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.

And live your life accordingly.  It’s up to you. Yeah, you.

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

December 12th, 2010 | Related | 0 Comments

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

How should we measure wealth

Wiley and Rhodes is beep beep brilliant stuff. 

Give me something to read

Trying to solve a problem?  Maybe you should laugh

This could be the most important video you will ever watch! 

It now seems possible that there might be diamond planets somewhere in the Universe. 

An allegorical tale – The Arctic Circle.


December 10th, 2010 | Strategic | 0 Comments

For a long time, experiential learning was bedevilled by task analysis.  Task analysis is grounded in the belief that complex behaviour is the sum of its constituent parts and, that, if systematic analysis identifies these parts, it is possible to (re-)construct the complex behaviour through compilation of the parts.  What could be easier?  What could be less effective?

But complex behaviour doesn’t work that way.  Complex behaviour reflects open-loop skills that have ongoing problem solving at their core.  Task analysis might be OK for closed-loop skills – the unvarying repetition of a set of unchanging processes – but how does one analyse flexibility, variability or dynamism?  Task analysis is invariably descriptive rather than explanatory, which is another reason why it is a waste of time.  It is just not possible to derive explanation from description, irrespective of how detailed these descriptions become (and some become highly detailed, with many hundreds of elements and sub-elements).

As an experiential learner, you must provide your own explanation for task demands and your behavioural processes to meet those demands.  Not that you’ll realise this for you are creating this explanation through both doing and thinking about your doing.

Transcending external descriptions and creating internal explanations is the goal of all experiential learning.  And everybody is able to do this; everybody can perform with precision, fluency and artistry through sustained and insightful effort:

And then you can appreciate the wizardry of your own efforts.  You may not know your explanation but you can create it through your own efforts.

A silent yet valid explanation that you have created is worth so much more than all of the oft-shouted descriptions from those around you.

Say, Do, Be

December 8th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

Saying is usually easy.  “I’m sorry.”  “I didn’t mean it.”  “It won’t happen again.”  “You can trust me.”  “Just give me one more chance.”  “I’m going to be honest with you.”  Life is full of statements that are designed to achieve some short-term advantage, an advantage that is often not disclosed by what is said.  If things get a bit awkward after any of these things are said, you can always rely on this:

“I never said that.”

Saying is usually easy, doing is usually more demanding.  Doing can be a challenge, doing demands effort and effort is required to meet the demands.  After much doing, the being begins.  Doing develops, doing transforms and doing has the power to make you into something new.  Doing is the essence of experiential learning.

And being – new, better, more skilled, more resilient, more understanding – flows from the doing.

Let’s illuminate this say-do-be relationship with a concrete example – gratitude.  It’s easy to say thanks; it’s easy to say that you’re grateful.  How difficult or demanding is it to ‘do’ or ‘be’ grateful?  A very recent review of the scientific literature on gratitude concluded that truly ‘doing’ or ‘being’ grateful was a morally and intellectually demanding exercise.  Saying is easy; doing and being are much harder.  Doing and being require effortful engagement, regular reflection and sustained discipline.

And ‘tis nobler now hopes that the relevance of the daily practice of gratitude to experiential learning and behavioural change is apparent, both in process and content.  Listen to this Eric Clapton song – ‘You were there’ – and assess how far beyond the saying his gratitude goes and how deeply he feels it.

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.

The say-do-be relationship defines many aspects of experiential learning and you must find your own way, choosing between what’s easy and inconsequential or more challenging and worthwhile.  And don’t forget that repetition is vital for experiential learning – perhaps you need to say, do, be, do, be, do!  ’tis nobler is certain that you are grateful that you didn’t write the previous sentence!

More And/Or Less

December 6th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

This post is about more and less, more or less.

Experiential learning could be conceived of as gradually less absence and progressively more presence.  It could also be thought of as gradually more absence and progressively less presence.  These two statements appear contradictory but aren’t.  ‘tis nobler wonders if you’d understand more if less was written – ‘tis nobler is sure you’ve heard the saying, “Less is more.”  Aren’t more presence and less absence always better in experiential learning?

We become accustomed to busyness; we think of busyness as business.  We fill vacuums, we take up spaces, we break silences and we, more or less, reject the ‘less is more’ credo time and time again.  Nature abhors a vacuum and so we naturally do something about it by doing something.  Less might be more but more is perceived to be invariably better.

Often, to demonstrate apparent competence or expertise, the same approach is applied.  More is better unless less is more.  Doesn’t it follow that, if less is more and more is better, less is better?  Can you see how this relates to experiential learning, or does ‘tis nobler need to say more?

Perhaps less words and more action will help explain these issues, particularly when there is no action:

If this post has all been a bit too cryptic, ‘tis nobler should perhaps have said more.  If this post has encouraged to explore issues of more and less, ‘tis nobler could perhaps have said less.

More and less.  You have to more or less find your own way.

Stratagem Is Not Strategy

December 3rd, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

Have you been court out using a stratagem?

Sorry, I meant to ask whether you have been using a stratagem out on court.  Come to think of it, you can also use a stratagem in court.  In fact, stratagems are everywhere, not just out on or in court.  There is a chance that you’ve been caught out using a stratagem, even if you are the one doing the catching.  You often can’t hide from yourself although you often can hide from others.  Hiding can be literal or figurative; the latter is achieved when you confuse stratagem with strategy.

So, is it stratagem or strategy when tennis players grunt loudly when hitting the ball?  A recent study has provided some evidence to indicate that it is a stratagem.  The presence of an extraneous sound during a video-based tennis task significantly affected the performance of the ‘opponent’, whose responses were both slower and less accurate.  Can you think of possible explanations for this finding?

Stratagems are not strategies.

Being cunning is not being clever.

The use of loopholes is not the same as the demonstration of learning.

In your experiential learning and behavioural change , will you do things on the sly (find out more about The Bamboos here)?

Effort is a strategy; ‘grunting’ is a stratagem.  Find your own way, quietly and through effort.


December 1st, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

In one sense, experiential learning can be all-consuming.  It is not confined to finite practice sessions or every second Tuesday between 2pm and 4pm.  Experiences that contribute to experiential learning are not confined to the skill being acquired.  Specific skilled performance is a subset of the experiences that inform and enhance it.

It is not possible, nor is it desirable, to impose artificial boundaries around your learning; it doesn’t make sense to suggest that what is ‘inside’ is always important and that what is ‘outside’ is of little or no value.  Making these decisions validly would be evidence for a prescriptive learning recipe and, if you’ve been paying attention, you will have realised that such a thing does not exist.  When the boundaries are so blurred, how do you identify and handle ‘downtime’?

The value of downtime has been demonstrated in a number of different settings, most often in work situations this isn’t surprising as, after all, nobody can be switched on all the time.  There is evidence that some detachment from the job when away from the job aids wellbeing and task performance.  As this detachment increases, wellbeing further improves but task performance when back at work deteriorates.  Is it possible to be too switched off when you switch off?

At any given time, you can be engaged, semi-detached or detached.  At any given time, how do you decide which to be?  Across all given times, how do you strike a balance between these three states?  This is a fundamental issue that must be resolved by each learner – ‘recovery time’ is essential to refresh and renew and yet ‘recovery time’ may contain valuable, if indirect, learning opportunities.  How will you distinguish between instance and interlude?  Here’s an interlude to allow you to reflect on that question:

Instances for engagement can be indirect and interludes for detachment can be intentional.  And yet these times can swap from one to the other and then back again.  How will you find your own way when the boundaries between learning instance and interlude are blurred or intermittent?