Mining the archives

As I draft, and mobilise my knowledge to build an argument, I need to refresh my memory of the written work of others, to effectively cite.  I have an impression that so-and-so said such-and-such, but don’t quite know exactly where  (ie committing verbatim text and chapter-and-verse to memory is not something well developed in my childhood, excepting by the accompaniment of music).  But I do have this memory-remnant, and in regularly revisited reading (eg of the three synoptic gospels, or of Paul’s letters to the churches) I have a greater remembrance of basic context, so I can  scan relatively quickly for it, and with concordances or electronic search engines these days I can use ‘key words’ to search efficiently and find.

But not all of the documents I have accessed are in a digital form, yet, and my processing of my reading includes integrating the material into my frame, with its selective attentivenesses, and involves some synthesising re-expression, so that when I go ‘back to the literature’ I cannot always find a sentence, or form of words, that captures the remnant memory impression of how I want to speak of the idea I want to reference.

Going back to the literature, however, and searching again, by reading afresh the detail that has been forgotten, can have its own rewards: sometimes, as today, while re-reading Bateson’s Steps to an Ecology of Mind, I see things in detail that I don’t remember having seen before.  The hermeneutical spiral and iterative process, that is ongoing for me, has prepared me so that I can read and understand the same words read before, in a different way now.

The process of developing a habit of capturing reflective thinking as I work with my practice issue has now built a large repository of similar data.  The task of drafting, and redrafting to be more concise, has given me some polished resources that can be revisited and sometimes it is there that the precise reference, including a page number, is found.

The process of slowing down my reading, of theoretical and technical writing, by transcribing the material that first caught my attention, which I have used since undergraduate days (1963-6) to assist my memory and understanding has been enhanced recently.  Since 1996, I have captured the transcribed material digitally, and since 1998 I have been consciously capturing my contemporaneous reflective thinking about that first read and transcribe, so that now I have another resource of digitised data to search via simple ‘find’ commands (or someday soon, when I have tidied up my archived files of redundant duplication, I might invoke Google to search my desktop).

So, today, while mining the archives, I have found:

To what extent I need to explore disciplines like semantics, linguistics, psychology, xxx, to be able to deal with the issues that arise in my practice, is open, and may depend on whether I can find a group of cooperative inquirers where these disciplinary resources are available, and I can engage with cooperative inquiry with them (May 2004 draft of thesis conclusion)

Ha! I knew it! add to “semantics and linguistics”,  ‘syntax’, and maybe even ‘TESOL’,  and you have some of  the issues that my current practice is throwing up … prepositions, vocabulary and categories and possible ontologies, developing abstractions, literacy, the context of writing,  etc

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

UoW Research Colloquium, April 2009

Before I forget, I want to register that I need to come back and reconsider:

Activity Theory and contradictions; Vygotsky, scaffolding and Zones of Proximal Difference

Bernstein’s framing and classifications

theoretical framework, and frameworks, and practice knowledge difference/issue

evidence based research

‘satisfaction’ in some ‘effectiveness models’

Flyberg and ‘extreme case’ studies

critical case sampling and the logic of the Patton quote, especially .if it doesn’t happen there, it won’t happen anywhere’

possibilites for following up in FoE; in WCA

Structuring for serendipity?

Ah ha, have I just constructed an oxymoron?  [I am wanting ‘serendipity’; what has ‘structure’ got to do with serendipity?; isn’t ‘structure’ and ‘serendipity’ a contradiction in terms?]

The lack of posts for a couple of days represents time spent on trying to work with RSS feeds .. when I don’t know what they are; or why?; or how?

The stimulus is the flow-on from Stephen Downes, the development of the ‘node’ of ‘learning’, to pull, and so that my node might become a point of reference for another’s learning – ie potential teaching/ facilitation of another’s learning.

But as I say, I have done, and without understanding.

To start, I opened an account with Feedburner, and registered my two active blogs (which permit RSS) and … got next to nothing.

Then, I clicked on the RSS symbol with some other webpages, and blogs, where I would like to know when there has been action .. ie to reduce the activity around the routine mentioned earlier, and was stepped through to bring them to a Google reader.

Ah .. two days later, and I realise the latter was all I needed to do, in order to consolidate reporting of activity (others’ activity, that is; since after all, I am still supposed to know what I am doing myself!).

To capture what others might be doing with my activity, here, all I need to do is RSS comments under the meta- options from this site …

So here is some of how I learn by doing …

Which reminds me: another of my operative adages, to add to the picture =1000 words, and 3M=mixing makes mud, is that necessity is the mother of invention .. talk about being ‘pulled’ by ‘learning’ …

Designing …

Stephen Downes has opened up this area for me on the web. (It is useful to follow someone with similar interests down their track … it helps sort the hakeas and their thorns from the other bushes that hit you around the head and in the eyes (Ku-ring-gai Chase hike with Chris Clerke and others when I was smaller).

While my first introduction to ‘design’ was from the visual arts (Gwenda and her design principles and doodling), it was when I was reading Donald Schon, for the second or third time, that I realised that teaching, indeed, life, is a matter of design: working with multiple evaluative criteria, in a sequence, to solve a problem; and when you get stuck, trying to shift your ground or re-frame, as Donald describes it: either changing the sequence of application of the evaluative criteria, or bringing in other evaluative criteria.  The intent is to develop an aesthetically pleasing solution – something that ‘fits’, and ‘fits me’ – something I can enact.

So for this blog space, what I am after are the lateral (serendipity), external stimuli that offer another sequence or different criteria, to force a rethink of what I am grappling with.

In response to Stephen’s comments, the thought triggered off, which I have expressed elsewhere from time to time, is that I work now with the three phases of adages: if a picture is worth a 1000 words, and a proposition is worth a 1000 pictures, then a practice is worth a 1000 propositions.

For John Heron the practice of an individual is their presence and presentation … and here I am around a circle again!

Jiggery-pokery method

Last Wednesday (8 April) I was at UoW for the Research Students’ Seminar session .. and next Friday (17 April) I will be there again for the Colloquium.

The presentation was working with teacher knowledge -“Exploring the ways primary school teachers conceptualise authentic learning tasks in their classrooms” (Jessica Mantei)

Part of the presentation was spelling out ‘design-based research approach’ which appears to be the preferred mode for practice knowledge work (Tony Herrington, et al).

I am still working on understanding the relationship of this to reflective practice, or action research, or self-study, or mixed methods.

Here is how I see where Kressel fits into the picture for me:

The question of nomenclature I resolved in the end with iconoclasm: to go with my whirligig theoretical framework, I probably have a jiggery-pokery methodology.

For jiggery-pokery my current ‘best’ picture is:

and seeing this, this way, suggests it is time to do some more work on visualising …

talk about madness in my method!

Back to learning – being stuck

I have run into difficulties with posting images …

there are two options here … the icon in the main menu which wants a URL, and the Add-media option above the main menu.

The add-media option allows me to upload an image … my question now, is: does the ‘gallery’ for a post vary from post to post, or do my images get consolidated into a ‘this user gallery’?  I suspect/hypothesise it is a gallery per post.  Now to test that with another jpeg of practice knowledge

Developing practice knowledge

Is practice-knowledge different from other knowledge?

I am tending towards the view that it is, but I am having some difficulty in articulating in what way it is different.

Firstly, practice-knowledge needs to be ‘practical’ – ie meeting certain kinds of criteria: (1) dealing with the particular context; (2) timely – a solution within time constraints, and where the solution is acknowledged as the best at that time, within that particular context’s constellation of conditions; (3) implementable by the actors who are parties to the problem-solving activity for which practice-knowledge is needed

(Now to check how I have articulated it in a recent (5/4/09) response to peer-reviewing another’s work: From what was here, and what I found was missing for me, I was forced to explore in my own mind the theory-practice divide.  … I wonder if something like Argyris and Schon idea of ‘theory-in-use’ helps here … everything is theorised – we have a mental model, we have expectations – rules for predictable behaviour.  That these theories are not articulated, do not comply with ‘Grand Theory’ criteria, does not make them any the less powerful/ valuable.  In this context, the theory is about the theory of practice/ the practical – what are the identifying criteria of ‘practical’ – within a certain time frame; within the limited resources available; with implementable validity/ applicability to the local conditions, and by the local personnel.  Unless the theory measures up here, within these criteria and for these people, it cannot be respected because it is not valuable.  As an academic, in the current changing world, it may be necessary to start here, then ask how do these criteria ‘scale-up’ to Grand Theory????)

I tend to think about knowledge in the following ways: know-what (content); know-how (process); know-why (understanding).

Within ‘know-how’ are some subcategories: a know-what-of-how (description of process); know-how-of-how (the kinesthetic doing of it – body hand-eye coordination); know-why-of-how (some explanatory model of the actions required).

Then I start playing with words … know-what-of-what; know-what-of-how; know-what-of-why; know-how-of-what; know-how-of-how; know-how-of-why; know-why-of-what; know-why-of-how; know-why-of-why.

That usually brings me to my 3M model, the intersecting Venn diagrams (3M=Mixing Makes Mud)

[And now I am having problems publishing diagrams!!]