Posts Tagged ‘involvement’

Exactly Like You

November 16th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

Who is exactly like you?  While a range of criteria could be used to answer this question, let’s just use one – standards.

As individuals, we have standards.  Some of these standards are personal, others are broadly normative and yet others are societal.  In descending order of importance (from the personal to the societal), these standards help to define us.

As members of a small group, we have standards.  Some of these standards remain personal, others reflect specific group norms.  Broadly normative and societal standards also remain in place.

As members of a larger group, we have standards.  Some of these standards reflect specific group norms, while broadly normative and societal standards remain in place.  Did you notice the change?

In the previous post, the relationship between anonymity and aberration was explored in general terms – with anonymity comes aberration.  But, as groups get larger, our personal standards recede further and further into the distance.  Does this indicate that there are degrees of anonymity?  Is it possible for the personal to disappear completely within the impersonal group?  The evidence supports the notion of disappearance.

Anonymity breeds aberration and the more anonymous you believe you are, the more aberrant your behaviour becomes.  In large groups, you can scan the sea of faces trying to find someone like you:

And realise, perhaps ashamedly, that they are all like you and you are like all of them.  Situations overwhelm standards and inhibitions disappear as your personal standards depart.  Due to the situation and the behaviour of others, you become someone like you and not someone exactly like you.

What does it take to be exactly like you across situations and within groups?  Only you can answer that question.  It is essential to realise, though, that self management doesn’t cease simply because you’re with others!

Distance Between Strategy, Motivation And Excuse

May 27th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

A constant theme in ‘tis nobler posts is that of the learning journey, a journey that, for it to be effective, efficient and durable, demands that you must find your own way. Not surprisingly, then, ‘distance’ has featured prominently. It was used as a metaphor for progress and as an important self control strategy (here and here).

The use of ‘distance’ is a way to gain insights into your own behaviour and the ‘distance’ that still lies ahead improves goal adherence. It has also been used to dismiss decision making styles as a helpful framework.

‘tis nobler has covered quite a, um, distance in exploring the concept of ‘distance’, which is central to construal level theory. But that’s another story, a story for, shall we say, further down the track.

There is some recent evidence that ‘social distancing’ – the interpersonal rather than the intrapersonal ‘distance’ or greater interpersonal ‘distances’ (between strangers and friends) – can also assist problem solving and creativity. Add these to the list of ‘distance’ beneficiaries listed above and dealing with the ‘concrete’ – the directly and immediately personal – seems to be on shaky ground. Abstraction can assist, if only because it removes a number of personal distractions that would otherwise apply.  In this song by Brandon Heath, he sings:

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the once forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see

It doesn’t really matter whether it is ‘Your’ (as intended) or ‘your’ in this chorus, the principle remains. Using ‘distance’ can help in many ways, ways that lead to breakthroughs, solutions and actions.

‘tis nobler wonders whether a ‘distance’ strategy (using the abstract to solve the concrete) gradually evolves into a ‘distance’ motivation (motivated more by the abstract than the concrete) and eventually into a ‘distance’ excuse of only being interested in the abstract. Finding ways to understand the personally concrete is fantastic, using one of these ways as an excuse for avoiding the concrete much, much less so.

You can set your own ‘distances’ between strategies, motivations and excuses. How will you find your own way, how far will you travel and how involved in your journey will you be?

Deliberately Incidental

May 18th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

The previous post dismissed the concept of natural ability as a predictor of experiential learning success and emphasised the central role of effortful practice, sometimes called deliberate practice.  The connection(s) between skill, practice and learning must be of sufficient and sustained strength; if not, your role reduces to that of passenger, someone along for the ride while others take responsibility and make the effort.

But there are passengers and then there are ‘passengers’.  There aren’t, however, learning opportunities and ‘learning opportunities’, for everything presents as a real learning opportunity (and so you should never think that all learning has to be deliberate for it can also be incidental.  As a deliberate learning strategy, it can also be deliberately incidental).  Evidence indicates that a combination of passive ‘passenger’ and learning opportunity can still be beneficial.

The value of expanding direct learning with vicarious experiences has been discussed previously by ‘tis nobler (here and here), although the antagonism between vicarious experience and self control has also been noted (here).  Both effectiveness and efficiency will benefit when greater effort is invested in direct learning; similarly, there will be further (perhaps smaller) benefits when direct learning is complemented by participation in vicarious experiences (again, perhaps, proportional to the level of engagement).  Experiential learning is ‘moreish’ – more effort, more engagement, more direct and indirect experiences all combine to generate more effective and efficient learning.  Can ‘lessish’ also be ‘moreish’ for learning?

It may be that direct and vicarious can be reinforced even more by passive, incidental experience (although the evidence is limited to the type of task studied at this stage).  It makes sense, though, that you can still learn when you’re in less obvious learning situations, you can still learn when you are a passive ‘passenger’.  In these circumstances, you may be unaware of your learning but you are still soaking up the ‘lessons’ the real world is presenting:

Experiential learning can happen in every place and at any time.  Effectiveness and efficiency vary as a function of direct, vicarious and passive experience but all three types can add value.  You can learn while you do, you can learn from what others have done and you can still learn when you don’t think you’re doing anything.

There is no one way and there is no right way.  There is just your way.  Find it.  Directly and incidentally, this is a good thing on which to deliberate!


Eyes, Not Mind

October 1st, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

This post is about closing – yes, it’s closing time.  Don’t get too excited for ‘tis nobler is not shutting up shop; it’s another type of closing down.  Think of eyelids.

George Santayana said:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

‘tis nobler had talked a little bit about the past in the past – see the post titled Up, In And Towards.  But that is now in the past, what’s the issue for today?

It’s a simple one – closing your eyes helps you to remember.  When it is important to reflect on your learning journey to date as a way of organising the present and future, it may be useful to close your eyes to retrieve details.  Can you remember?

Close your eyes, not your mind.  Recall and use the richness of your experience for it is the details rather than the broad descriptions that add the most value to your experiential learning and behavioural change.  All you have to do now is remember to close your eyes when you’re trying to remember the ways to facilitate the retrieval of memories.

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.

Expect And Dream

August 19th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

If I can dream, how should I dream and what else should I do?  Wendy Matthews sings:

If I can dream of a better land,

Where all my brothers walk hand in hand,

Tell me why, oh why, oh why, can’t my dream come true.


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.

So, why don’t some dreams come true?  Should I expect my dreams to come true?  I am positive that something negative might help.  Dreams can be fantastic in several senses of that word, including the sense that they may be fantasies – there is a difference between imaginative and imaginary.

Dreams are also of events yet to occur and there may be much that intervenes in the interim; although they will often be grounded in past or present occurrences, this foundation is usually more tenuous than another type of future-oriented thought, expectation.  Expectations have a harder edge to them than dreams; they can be based more strongly on evidence and are more amenable to probabilistic assessments.  An expectation is more akin to anticipation whereas dreams have more in common with hopes.

Don’t get me wrong – both have important roles to play.  We just need to sort out the relationship between them.  What should we expect from expectations?  Well, it’s probably not unexpected to discover that the evidence indicates that positive expectations are more predictive of success than negative expectations – there are probably elements of self-fulfilling prophesies at work here.  But it’s the evidence on dreams or fantasies that is more surprising.

When people were asked not what they expected to happen but what they imagined these happenings to be like, those who reported negative fantasies were more likely to succeed than those whose ‘dreams’ were more positive.  It is possible for positive dreams to become an end in their own right rather than a (motivating) means to the desired end; if the positive dream is enjoyed now, it is less likely to produce goal achievement in the future.  The dream is enjoyed even though it never leads anywhere.

Think through this as it applies to experiential learning or behavioural change.  Having positive expectations, supported by evidence (of effort, insight, progress, feedback etc), leads to success.  Having negative ‘dreams’, the images that the learning process will be demanding, time-consuming and extensive can also contribute to success, for they are directly connected with the evidence on which expectations are based.  Positive ‘dreams’ are unconnected with anything except your dreaming.

Expect the positive and imagine the negative!

Fro And To

August 18th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

Time marches on – while gravity slows time, it doesn’t alter its direction.  It may come to pass that time travel is possible but, for now, our everyday perception of time is that it moves in just one way, forwards, and at a constant rate.  But it is possible to manipulate time perception so that there is a mismatch between our perceptions and actual time.  Proverbially, time waits for no man but, if the circumstances are right, some people feel that they have to wait longer for the same amount of time to pass!  Naturally, if the circumstances are modified, the same amount of time can be made to feel shorter than it actually is.

Time marches on; time also flies.  It marches on all the time but, apparently, it only flies when you’re having fun.  If you’re not having fun, time can drag.  Would you imagine that manipulating your perception of time will affect your perception of fun?  Isn’t ‘fun’ derived directly from your activity rather than how long you believe you’ve been doing it?  Perhaps the best example of the relationship between time and fun is that of time lapse films such as this one:

Compressing time, making it ‘fly’, in this way can be entertaining and fun but fun can also compress time!  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.

Can you think of ways in which you could creatively apply this ‘two-way street’ to your experiential learning?  More importantly, perhaps, does this ‘two-way street’ alter your views on cause and effect?  One of the constraints on effort is a view that both the activity you’re learning and the ‘world’ in which you learn it comprise simple, linear cause and effect relationships that are easily understood and rapidly accommodated into performance.  This isn’t the case!

One way sees you heading ‘to’, two-way might see you moving to and fro but the world of experiential learning and behavioural change is actually multi-way.  In this world, you move to and fro, and fro and to, and to and to and fro and to, and fro, fro, to, fro and to etc.  A cause causes an effect that causes the first cause to become an effect, and so on. Other cause-effect-cause chains are operating in parallel.

Is time dragging for you right now?  This perceived effect must be caused by gravity; the only other possible explanation I can think of would be boredom and that can’t be right.

Purpose Full

August 16th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

There are many behavioural and emotional correlates of motivation, ways in which your motivation is broadcast to the world around you.  Persistence is one such correlate, resilience is yet another.  Patience, hope, and curiosity are other ways in which you can exhibit your motivation.  Motivation is goal-directed; it is the effort and energy you channel into achieving your goals.  But there has been some recent work exploring a construct that sits above goals, something that spans and unifies different aspects of your life.  This something can have a profound influence on your learning and positive behavioural change.

And that something is purpose.  Purpose gives meaning to the journey.  If you make a commitment to wait for someone, your whole purpose (not just one of many goals) becomes one of waiting for them:

What are the characteristics of ‘purpose’ as a cognitive process?  Firstly, purpose defines life goals, not activity goals (some of which are compatible with purpose, some of which are incompatible – such is life).  Secondly, purpose provides personal meaning across and beyond activities rather than within them.  Thirdly, purpose provides general and generalised direction to your life rather than specific directions for any part of it.

In any learning session, you can have an aim; if you don’t, then that session, and your learning, could well be aimless.  Across sessions within an activity and between activities, you can have goals; if you don’t, your efforts will flow in all directions, thus becoming directionless.

Beyond activities, you can have a purpose, the influence of which will be reflected in everything you do.  Purpose enables you to strive for consistency and authenticity across and beyond the specific activities you undertake.  Be purpose full.

Do Or Blue

August 12th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

Resistance isn’t futile, despite what the Borg might say.  Resilience, resourcefulness and repetition are common themes in experiential learning and behavioural change but you don’t hear that much about resistance.  Resistance could have negative connotations derived from resistance to treatment or resistance to change.

But there can be positive dimensions to resistance, particularly resistance to idleness.  Idleness may be our preferred natural state, stemming from an evolutionary preference for managing scant resources by making as few demands on them as possible.  Activity needs ‘fuel’ and acquiring ‘fuel’ needs activity – less activity requires less ‘fuel’.  There is a direct cost with every activity so, if you take it easy whenever you can, you’ll only need to ‘hunt’ occasionally!  There has to be a justifiable reason to overcome this preference for idleness.

But times change; these days, the reason doesn’t have to be too compelling.  There are two explanations for this; firstly, the evidence indicates that we are happier when we are busy and, secondly, we seem satisfied to use excuses (rather than reasons) to justify action over inaction.  Being happy by being busy and using the excuse of ‘work’ to make the effort are features of this fantastic video by OK Go :

In learning and change, effort is essential and you have to overcome your instinct for idleness in order to make it (where ‘it’ is deliberately ambiguous, representing both effort and achievement).  For every excuse for not doing something, there is both a reason and an excuse for doing it.  If the excuses cancel out each other, you’re just left with a reason, a reason to be active, a reason to be involved in your learning and self-management.

And you’ll be happier.  It really is a case of “Do or Blue”, so the choice is simple.  Do!

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?”

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.


June 18th, 2010 | Specific | 0 Comments

Effort IS essential but nobody’s perfect.  Sometimes, you just can’t be bothered.  The experiential learning world is not populated by fanatics who spend every waking moment practising, reflecting on that practice and then practising some more.  Experiential learning has to fit into your world, not dominate it.

You are aware of the positive reasons for pursuing experiential learning and behavioural change, many of which you accept and support.  But you also have access to excuses, all of which you believe to be valid and compelling at the time you trot them out.  It’s easy for excuses to morph into reasons:

What can you do about it?  How can you reduce the chances of continuing procrastination?  Interestingly, recent research suggests that one strategy to overcome the opportunity costs of procrastination is forgiveness.  Forgiving yourself, that is.  Awareness of, and reflection on, past procrastination events can generate negative feelings; should these feelings persist, they have the potential to perpetuate the procrastination.  The longer this downward spiral continues, the less likely you are to renew the effort.

Putting a missed opportunity behind you by forgiving yourself for missing it and focussing fully on acting on the next opportunity is a way to both overcome procrastination and improve subsequent performance through better preparation.  While the research addressed student studying behaviour, it reflects one aspect of metacognitive involvement in learning and this type of involvement is critically important.  Being engaged by and involved in your learning is essential; effort is not confined to your muscles, it must also occur between your ears!

Alexander Pope wrote:

To err is human; to forgive, divine.

Respectfully, ‘tis nobler writes:

To err while learning is human and to procrastinate is commonplace, to practise and to forgive yourself for not practising reduces both error and procrastination and that’s divine.

It’s natural to look for ‘exits’ from learning as what’s on the other side of the door on any given day might look (and actually be) more appealing.  This is just one more thing you have to deal with as your experiential learning journey unfolds.

Don’t put off forgiving yourself for sometimes putting things off.