Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Learning styles and preference

My kitchen window, this morning

... the post on learning styles is making me circle back to a post from two months back: Tell me, who is it you are?

Part of that was my own circle (complex systems and connections), but it got reinforced by fellow Watermarker Katherine's response and further exploration of her own learning style and what the blog has contributed to that.

It's making me smile how our particular styles shape how and what we write. - Well, that's my response and reaction to her brilliantly reflexive and analytical post on learning by blogging. She starts explicitly: This is about an exploration who I am, a sensemaking of what interests me. And she continues with the role and development of writing.

Writing is something that she used to do professionally and I still do professionally, and when reading her post I thought along about the rules I did and did not impose on my little blogging adventure. There are some clear rules, the clearest is that most people, bar immediate family, who do not blog themselves have only initials. - Leading to funny confusions of whether M is one or indeed several friends (well: currently M stands for three). There is another one for writing: be narrative and associative. Write the way that usually gets you into trouble for your academic publishing adventures.

Thus: the blog, from fairly early on, and now more and more deliberately has been set up as an other, a space that can, is, moves and develops. I am convinced that the blog benefitted from it; while joking at times that my academic writing gets even more like a brainstorming session and thus is even more likely not to fit, I am also certain that my academic writing does benefit from the blogging.

But - and this is now the topic of this post (long lead in, I know): I have most definitely benefitted from that rule which really is about establishing a frame for emergence*.

And that leads me back to my initial comparison of Myers-Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI) being comparable to horoscopes: I'm cancer, so I'm crabbit, I bite, I like moving sideways rather than forward and really, while being all tough, I am very soft if I decide to open my shell - oh, and frequently I do loose my shell, shed my skin and become something else. Well - that's it, isn't it? Simple and it goes for 1/12 of the world's population.

I did find out who sent me the login for the MBTI test - it was part of my research management training course I was about to embark a few weeks later. The course took up a fair bit of time and strongly focussed on personality preferences, team management and career development of yourself and your team.

There were two initial discoveries about the type indicator:

1. I can confuse quite convincingly - the test involves a set of opposite preference pairs:
  • (a) how you gain your energy - from the outside or inside (Extrovert or Introvert)
  • (b) how you gather information - by Sensing or by iNtuiting
  • (c) how you make judgements - by Thinking or by Feeling; and lastly
  • (d) your lifestyle preference - by planning or by being open (Judging or Perceiving)
Well - and I can fairly convincingly pull off an extrovert, a rational thinker and a no decisionmaker. The one I really struggle with is collecting information in a factual, step-by-step mannner rather than starting with the whole. So, I can come across as the idealtype academic - INTJ; possibly also an ENFJ and an INFP.

But - and that is what got me:

2. my preference combination - while pretty rare - offers about 5-8 insights into who I perceive myself to be that I think only I and some close friends know. How on earth did Myers-Briggs know that I love paradoxes? That my desk is generally pretty messy but there's all the connections everywhere? That I know stuff about people often long before they know it themselves? And that I will usually withdraw from situations and people without ever saying much?

There are two more points for this - the implications for group dynamics and for learning and development - that's next. And there's another one, which connects to this as well as to so many other things: it's about the construction of real and imagined readerships - and our positioning towards, alongside or against those we do not know.

* well - take the principles of the Social and Organisational Learning as Action Research group at the University of the West of England, Bristol, for such frame.


Anonymous said...

Gosh how thought provoking!
after going through a degree process in Fine Art over the past three years I can now put the lettters B.A(hons) after my name!
It is a process this academic thing and in the end you do come out having picked things up but as someone said especially of Fine art it is a slow burner and may take years to come out same with academic education as a whole well the same thing applies.
Ssorry for the long comment also re Fields have a look at Speenhamland re poor relief and enclosure.

Dr Michelle Frantom (aka Dr Mad Fish of Mad Fish Designs) said...

I came across your blog doing research and I love your work. I am also an artist and a Cancerian, working in education and doing a Doctorate (in Australia)
I have added your blog to my Bloglist.

Gesa said...

Chris - that's great news and congratulations for having finished the degree! Yes, definitely, how academia validates achievement is complex and confusing: my subjects (geography, criminology and social policy) have always been more immediate or applied to examine and assess as fine art; but even there (geog et al.) it becomes rather reductive to be able to say 'this is what has been achieved'; I often envied people who went to study when older - quite a few of my friends embarked on their PhD in their fifties, but I also know the difficulties that this brings with it.

Many thanks for mention of Speenhamland - I have just started to look at it following your tip - this is really fascinating, as it provides a link to labour relation through the Poor Law - this is something I look at in the presence with my academic work; but this is a link to the field paintings worth exploring, many, many thanks!

Gesa said...

Hi Michelle, - welcome and many thanks for your comment!
I've had a first surf through your blog - and, while I'm in Germany and digging around emotional intelligence and tacit knowledge, I remembered that one starting point for my PhD in Geography (on the making of public space; security and safety practices and regeneration) I delved into Castoriadis's work on the imaginary as a rather complex concept for a social(ised) subconscious... I've become more and more intrigued by working practices, how people do stuff with a practical knowledge/consciousness rather than discursively unpacking it. I haven't read enough from your blog to get a full sense of your PhD but your reference to Jung's imaginal got me thinking...