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Archive for October, 2009

I have been allowing the limitations caused by the day job to allow the brain to incubate a number of ideas regarding where the PhD is going.

Now I have a moment in limbo, as it were, here in Trinidad to try and draw out some of those ideas and see if there any insights.  And there may be some; but the overall sense I have is of being dangerously unproductive. I will need to have something to show from all this thinking by late November in order to have a basis for data collection, though there’s a recursive caveat even there.

The first thing is that I have noticed how the reading and the thinking has begun to inform how I think and how I approach, for example, the workshops with Henley MBAs.  I feel better informed to frame the whole subject of learning, which is not the same as saying I have come across a pat or neat formula to define it. Bateson’s epistemology, and his investigation of learning theory is not directed toward simple solutions or algorithms.

Anyway, the thought that emerged on the plane was a moment of clarity about the key role that evolution plays in this.  In other words, without an understanding of evolution (which is an explanatory principle for learning in all living systems) there is no way to understand what learning is for human beings. Bateson, of course, had a particular view on what evolution is, and what it is not.

The a-ha moment was the realisation that I need to begin with the wider view in my research. Up to now, I kind of had it the other way round, that somehow the examination of human narratives on learning would reveal something about the nature of the evolutionary process (which is of a higher level of abstraction). This is an early formulation, and needs further thought.

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Ran a workshop today for the new Full-Time MBA group at Henley. It was a challenge to be up front and on my feet for what amounted to a full day, especially considering that this is a pretty mature and motivated bunch. I tried something new, at least new for use here at Henley, which was an activity called “Orchestra”. It was a whole-group activity in which they were required to organise themselves into sections of an orchestra and then create not just their instruments, but also an original piece of music, which they rehearsed and performed in front of staff and faculty.

It worked pretty well, and out of some chaotic preparation came some really original ideas and a good team spirit. The use of a vacuum cleaner, bag of lentils and a wheelie bin was inspired.

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