Of Robust and Respectful argument contestation ..

Colloquium has raised for me the issue of robust and respectful argument contestation …

and effective support of post-graduate studies and students …

and humour  … its ambiguity; its subtle layered hiddennesses; and its potential, when out-of-hand to move to cruelty; its association with fundamental emotional uncertainty (part of an avoidance/diversionary strategy)

and the development of an organisational culture … and how fragile a culture might be .. and of Argyris and Schon’s Model II principles:

Model II is a theory of joint control and inquiry.

Its underlying values are:

  • Valid information
  • Free and informed choice, and
  • Internal commitment

The primary strategies are:

  • To combine advocacy and inquiry
  • To make reasoning explicit and confrontable, and
  • To encourage others to do the same

Consequences include:

  • An increasing capacity not only for learning to improve strategies for achieving existing goals (single-loop learning)
  • But also for choosing among competing norms, goals and values (double-loop learning)

Model I is a theory of unilateral control over others

Action is designed to maintain four underlying values:

  • Achieving purposes as defined by the actor
  • Winning
  • Suppressing negative feelings,
  • Being rational

The primary strategies are those of:

  • Unilateral advocacy
  • Controlling inquiry, and
  • Protection of self and other

Consequences include:

  • Defensive interpersonal relationships
  • Defensive group relationships
  • Limited learning, and
  • Decreased effectiveness


The interchanges I have observed, as the Faculty is involved in a shift of emphasis in ‘acceptable’ research paradigm, and ‘led’ by a key staff change, threaten to generate a distancing of myself, from the scene.

I will defend myself by withdrawing, rather than taking on the issue … here is conflict avoidance at its worse, so I need to challenge myself about addressing such self-censorship …

First waking thoughts …

After a very long day, and requiring intense concentration, at Colloquium, I had a nice long sleep.

On waking, there were thoughts of coming here and capturing something of ‘serendipity’ –

  • of the first aware experience of it – among the library shelves at Sydney Uni, and Malinowski rather than the recommended texts, and other texts when the recommended reading was all out on loan;
  • of some training in lateral thinking, from Dad, for solving Sydney Morning Herald cryptic crosswords;
  • of my ‘elusives’ – peripheral (lateral) thoughts and associated vision metaphor – out of the corner of the eye, as it flies past;
  • of working to capture the elusives;
  • of browsing in stationers and hardware stores with an open eye to anything and everything, in case something might offer to solve a problem – not necessarily being what it was originally designed for
  • of word games and punning -> Koestler and Asimov

Of the building metaphors

Of the overnight processing outcomes