Friday, September 24, 2004

Embodying experience in order to learn...

I've been on leave these last three weeks in Malaysia (although one week has been 'work') and have travelled to various parts in that time. What an experience! To me, it redefines experience in many ways and I haven't yet thought how, but I feel it. I guess I still need to distil this experience, or more correctly, myriad experiences!

In terms of my week of work in KL, it feels less like 'work' (with it's connotations of hard, tiring, etc) and more about experience (I chose to immerse myself, to reflect and provide input, etc). I have gained some great insights into my own psyche from such experience, although limited in terms of time (which I equate with depth of experience I guess...)

In relation to my work in educational design it has spurred my creativity in terms of my thinking. That is I have begun to redefine my thoughts in relation to this experience. In terms of gaining further personal insights, I guess it is safer for me to say that it is I who has changed from this experience - I cannot talk for the experiences of another!

BUT...we often do this, we undertake to define the experiences of others, that is attempting to define the space of another, rather than beginning with ourselves. of course I generalise and I see this beyond the individual level, more in cultures, groups, teams, cohorts, whoever they might be.

So what can I do with my experiences and my further insights into my experiences? Well, LEARN! What does that mean? A good friend of mine, Kaya, discussed a concept known as a Cannon of Creativity. The diagram is shown below (made with my crude hands, with apologies to Jacob Moreno!)...

cannon of creativity depicting the cycle of spontaniety, warm-up, creativity, conservation

This really talks to me in a similar way as Kemmis and McTaggart's Action Research cycle of 'moments'. So, in order to generate some understanding of a context in which you might be exposed to (eg. being in Malaysia for three weeks), there is I feel, much benefit in immersing oneself in an experience. Not to find out about external stuff, more internal stuff - what does this do to ME???

The learning however, can then become enculturated in many different ways. In my ed design work, I can revisit these experiences in a range of different ways which will inform aspects of my work. Such ways may include empathy with the context/position/life of another, or more pragmatically, taking on board comments that provide me with other options and directions in my way of working (eg. streamlining a certain way of doing things).

This word ENCULTURATION has begun to take on more meaning for me. I think it's because I have a sense that some are inclined to gather up an experience in which they have remained OUTSIDE. To me, one cannot understand processes and experiences by doing this - by NOT becoming immersed or affected in some way.

I would like to explore this term enculturation more and would like to hear the thoughts of others on this. Right now though, it's Friday afternoon and I'm fully aware of my thirst for a cold beer or the like! ;o)

1 comment:

Marg O'Connell said...

PS. I have also been reading Scott Inglis' Making the most of action learning (1994) where he uses Kolb's learning cycle (p. 15). This diagram is very similar to Moreno's.

This proves to me once again that experience and learning are virtually synonymous (unless of course people don't learn from their experiences - but I would argue they do, but just don't know that they do!)