Reflexive reflecting

I attended the Stephen Downes lecture on 3 April 2009. I opened my account here on 6 April 2009.  I opened a twitter account on 21 April 2009.  I started to set up Google Reader for RSS feeds on 14 April 2009.

Time I took stock and reviewed my learning (reflexive reflecting)

The overwhelming feeling is of being run over by a bus … while activity at the internet has increased, so has activity face-to-face …

I have found that I can more quickly scan and evaluate the feeds of Christian sites, than I can scan inputs from sites feeding the new technology or creative thinking issues, but, that even so, scanning, when it is quick, takes time.  I am setting the end-of-day routine for the sorting scanning.

I have had one very productive flurry around stuff from Cognitive Edge, so effective thinking is very much back in my RAS (reticular activating system = foregrounded attention), and part of that is prompted by the face-to-face connections and current practice related focus developing there.

I am more aware that my notes here are notes for me, and possibly less than comprehensible to others, and that I also need to follow in Stephen Downes’ footsteps and develop a routine of writing-for-writing’s sake, and of syntheses that are referenced (though now I think about is these are two different tasks; and I can see that Stephen’s productivity is a function of this discipline being in place for some time – the scientist’s journal!!!).

Thinking modes and emotion

I am back here, in the midst of busyness, because I have just been triggered between real life interactions and a current post of Michael Jensen about emotion and ethics … now to see if I can bring some of the recent strands together, and link them back to some earlier work of mine.

Incidentially, our current local group study work is on Exodus … and last week it focused on Exodus 1 and included the ethical dilemma associated with infanticide …

Michael is posing a question about feelings possibly informing our moral choices, more than we appreciate.

Last week-ish, it was Religious dispatches asking about memory and identity

and as I know from Dispute Resolution studies, touching on identity is one of the ‘intractable’ disputes and part of the problem is that deep down there are values, values that are very hard to change, compared to beliefs and attitudes (which are progressively easier to change).

Also, recently, I have been exchanging with a friend about emotional thinking – or what Edward de Bono gathers up under his ‘red hat’ (one of my three sets in the Venn Diagram associated with this blog).  I was caught out: not keeping track of pars in papers .. and then having the residual memory that I could not track back to its source, and the irritation of unfinished business.

So far as I can tell the par may have been referring to Jonah Lehrer’s The Decisive Moment: How the Brain makes up its mind (given that the Sydney Morning Herald is reproducing Guardian pars this might have been the original reference).

As I shared with my friend,

I ‘major’ on the MBTI tool for self-awareness, and in that tool there is the two pole dimension of ‘thinking’ compared to ‘feeling’.  In the ‘thinking’ chunk are things like ‘logical, reasonable, questioning, critical, tough’.  In the ‘feeling’ chunk are things like ’empathetic, compassionate, accommodating, accepting, tender’.
As you are also aware, I do not entirely rely on MBTI to explain everything away, but have some other tools … and awareness of other ways of categorising ‘thinking’ modes.  For instance, I use de Bono’s six hats, one of which is the ‘red hat’ for ’emotional thinking’, chunking things like ‘feelings, emotions, hunches and intuitions’.  I have also read Howard Gardner’s stuff on Frames of Mind where he categorises intelligences associated with ‘linguistic’, ‘musical’, ‘logical-mathematical’, ‘spatial’, ‘bodily-kinesthetic’, ‘personal’ (interpersonal and intrapersonal), ‘naturalistic’.  There seems to be a connection between Gardner’s ‘personal’ intelligence, and Daniel Goleman’s ’emotional intelligence’.
I have read Damasio’s Descartes Error and dabbled in his The feeling of what happens
I have shared that I am not-enough aware of emotion in my thinking: things like ‘joy, anger, fear, jealousy, sorrow’.   I have been judged by others as being ‘dispassionate’ and/or the most ‘objective-thinker-I-have-ever-met’.   I suspect there is emotion there, but I am singularly unaware of it most of the time.  When I succumb to depression, thinking capacity, not to mention decision-making capacity, contracts noticeably, and on a couple of occasions I have been dragged out of general depression by someone giving offense, and when my response to being angered by what has happened has been sufficient to get me engaged in endeavouring to do something about the offense, and that means the depression fades, energy is revived, and I have a goal that is meaningful.
Trying to work with people to help them think more effectively means I need to understand these categories, and have some sort of appreciation of what is going on for others as well as myself.
I can’t remember if I have shared this, but one of the key experiences of my dispute resolution studies was during a mediation simulation when I was playing the role of a senior-in-years man who had hit a junior staff member, and was looking down the barrel of possible dismissal and loss of retirement entitlements.  I consciously endeavoured to get into the role, and let the empathy of the emotional have sway.  When I did that I was aware that when the ‘mediator’ in the role play was trying to talk to me about what was happening etc, that though I was physically hearing what was being said, I was not being able to process it, and I was able to operate as an observer to notice this ‘situational deafness/incomprehension’.  The upshot, in the mediation simulation, was that of course the mediation process got nowhere fast.  My learning was that if this was what was happening for one of the parties to the dispute, then, of course, there could be no mediation at this point, the parties were not ‘ripe’, and some sort of process, to help the person involved move from the disabling fear and circular thinking to be able to think of/ and about other elements of the dispute, would need to be acknowledged, and dealt with in some kind of procedural way, as part of any mediation that might move towards success.   But not in the ‘heat of the moment’.
So, I am still trying to work on my understanding of the emotional in thinking (or as the MBTI puts it – in the area of how we process what we are attending to) etc …
I can’t remember whether I shared with you at the time, but during our conversations, I did chase up some stuff about decision making, and found that, compared to MBTI, say, stuff on decision making is much more diffuse.


So, here I am, today, noticing others noticing this ‘nexus’, and beginning to ask questions, Christianly, about it.  It promises to be interesting times …
Another connection from the Sola Panel, from Tony Payne

Competency mapping

Between the idea (breakfast/hungry) and the act (eating) there is porridge preparation, including some rest time for the warm porridge and water.

So, I am able to let my mind wander a bit, and make some other connections .. and this time with of Cognitive Edge and Thursday’s session with a workshop on graduate attributes at UoW, and a long term memory of a very nasty headache the last time I tried workshopping competency mapping (Award Restructuring in local government, about 1990).

Dave notes (interalia above)

So for me competence modelling is another of those confusions of symptoms with causes, and a failure to use apprentice and other experiential models which have more potential.

(somehow ‘mapping’ has morphed to ‘modelling’);

and for me to note later, (aka remember) and share a story about simulation and role play

a simulation environment is very different from reality when you are dealing with human systems

At the UoW workshop, run by a linguist (some of best analysts I know seem to be linguists), the competency mapping turned out to be at the big picture level, compared to the dissectional approach back in the 1990’s.

The workshop was part of UoW’s Prof & Organisational Development Services [] (but you won’t get much further because need identity to access staff intranet) program.

The facilitator was an academic from LaTrobe Uni, Dr Ana Maria Ducasse [].

For preparation, I chased the UK descriptors for Higher Ed, and UoW’s ‘graduate attributes‘; and UoW’s postgraduate attributes

[For UoW’s current graduate attributes see]

IT WAS A WORKSHOP. After the introduction, there was some one-on-one intros, facilitated around: who, what, where, why, when, how. This was followed by a quick overview of why Ana Maria was there and what she wanted us to do. We then broke into four by four syndicate groups to undertake the work set. It was a matter of using a grid Ana Maria had designed, when doing some work on assessing the development of language skills, identifying key questions to differentiate between levels of study, and to be the accomplishment barriers for progress.

I worked with a group looking at some core generic support services to electrical engineering /informatics students. We looked at what was involved in bringing students, through 4 years, to reach the attributes claimed. Another group focused around professional education/teaching; another around business& management and the fourth at international students and careers advising.

After we spent about 2hrs on the work, we regrouped and reported our findings back to the plenary. The results and grids are to be sent to us in pdf shortly.

In thinking about the plenary report some more, and taking yet another bigger picture abstraction of the findings, it appeared that what the groups were striving for was articulation of

* beingness, or
* acting appropriately

One group identified ‘cultural awareness’ as their one idea for all five categories; another group identified ‘agency’ as their one idea for all five categories; the third group was like our group and had different facets for each category:

UoW attribute category: Bus&Man gp/ Engineering Gp
‘informed’: perspective/ timely and appropriate
‘independent learners’: creating own scaffold/ learning to learn
‘problem solvers’: rationalxnonrational/ project management
‘effective communicators’: LRCLAWS (listening, reading, coherent, logical, articulate, written, speaking/ written-oral-visual appropriate to audience
‘responsible’: reflecting/ fair contribution

Yes Janis, and groupthink, and Johari, got muddled in my mind on Thursday … I couldn’t disengage, sufficiently, from the stressful discussion to release the necessary memory …


Yet another one from of Cognitive Edge, and a connection to another blog I am following (yes, now that I have time and cognitive space to catch up with the latter part of this week, I can make connections)

It demonstrates that empathy follows from interaction. They were not really talking about these examples per se, but about military matters. However the anecdotal material shone through. Some of it had been reported up, but was reduced by mediation and summarisation. It was the voice of the person that made the story powerful. My response to this (and I hope to do something here) was that these very anecdotes need to be gathered and distributed. ….

However the focus of many in the group was on the more convention, what is the objective, what is measured, how do we achieve it. A focus on training the individuals rather than increasing human interaction and allowing learning to emerge. In effect to let the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things speak to power.

[my emphases .. given my interest in story-and-mind /Gregory Bateson, and practice knowledge]

Anecdote is running a story week next week .. it will be interesting to watch

Faulty thinking collection

at Cognitive Edge has identified a useful set of cognition hazards

  • contrast effect
  • sunk-cost effect
  • out-group homogeneity
  • Actor-observer contrasts
  • self-confirmation
  • confirmity
  • overconfident

These connect with Ross Gittins’ recent expose (Sydney Morning Herald 07/04/2007),

  • representative bias
  • availability bias
  • hindsight bias
  • confirmation bias
  • self-serving bias

and with my earlier, thesis-based collection

Now to see if I can summarise, synthesise and consolidate ….

A useful meta-process idea

at Cognitive Edge has noted

Yesterday I outlined a series of known effects that produce errors in perception and judgement in humans. I argued then that attempts to train people not to commit such errors was itself an error and a good example of the idealistic approaches to management that seem to dominate much of the management and training literature.

This is what I recognise, these days, as a meta-process/ meta-statement – error at two levels, and the risk of faulty thinking that goes with such potential confusion.  (from Gregory Bateson)

This time its application is definitely for me, and my high internal locus of control and closure potentialities and my big picture thinking (NTJ in MBTI) … any idea/ ideal/ idealism is likely to have this kind of incongruence built in (ie inherent)!!! Can I think critically about that?