Design for Living Complexities: an open course has begun

This course explores critical thinking about design in a range of areas of life and its complexities. It started July 14 and continues for 3-4 weeks. The recorded presentations and subsequent discussion are taking place on google+. See http://bit.ly/cctdesign for other options for participation and links to more details about the course. An overview of the course is below. Read more of this post

A manifesto for critical thinking (from 1995)

A “manifesto” on critical thinking

(from spring 1995, with notes stimulated by teaching Critical Thinking with Arthur Millman in spring 1999.[1,2])

Peter Taylor, version October 8, 2000

In a sense subscribed to by all teachers, critical thinking means that students are bright and engaged, ask questions, and think about the course materials until they understand well established knowledge and competing approaches.[3]

This becomes more significant when students develop their own processes of active inquiry, which they can employ in new situations, beyond the bounds of our particular classes, indeed, beyond their time as students.[4]

My sense of critical thinking is, however, more specific; it depends on inquiry being informed by a strong sense of how things could be otherwise.  I want students to see that they understand things better when they have placed established facts, theories, and practices in tension with alternatives.[5]

Critical thinking at this level should not depend on students rejecting conventional accounts[6], but they do have to move through uncertainty.  Their knowledge is, at least for a time, destabilized; what has been established cannot be taken for granted.

Students can no longer expect that if they just wait long enough the teacher will provide complete and tidy conclusions; instead they have to take a great deal of responsibility for their own learning.[7]

Anxieties inevitably arise for students when they have to respond to new situations knowing that the teacher will not act as the final arbiter of their success.

A high level of critical thinking is possible when students explore such anxieties and gain the confidence to face uncertainty and ambiguity.[8]

—————

NOTES

1.  We expect that the diversity and openendedness of definitions of critical thinking (CriT) in the initial classes and readings will require you to develop your own personally meaningful definition (see also the manifesto assignment).  At the same time, we do appreciate that some students get worried without more explicit guidance from their teachers, or find the openendedness unhelpful.  In response to this learning preference, I’m circulating these notes.  But please note that it’s only one view of critical thinking—a view that is evolving and open to critical assessment by yourself and others—rather than a revelation of the full final authoritative definition of critical thinking for this course.  In fact, as revelations go, these notes are condensed and you may need to see how the ideas play out in the classes ahead, before their meaning shines through.  This also speaks to an issue that runs through the course more generally—whether and for whom theory can be introduced on its own, or is digestible only after working through some activities.

2.  Sequence of weeks in CCT 601, spring 1999 (http://www.faculty.umb.edu/pjt/601-99.html)

  • 1. Self-introductions.  What is critical thinking?
    2. More elements of critical thinking.
    3. Observations and the reliability of sources.
    4. Reasoning and inference.
    5. Styles of causal explanation & their relation to ideas about action.
    6. Frames of reference.  Critical thinking and feminism.
    7. Listening I.  Methodological believing.
    8. Listening II.  Empathy and voice.
    9. Focused conversations/ORID.  Ladder of inference.
    10. Lesson remodeling.
    11. Overcoming obstacles to putting critical thinking into practice.
    12. Complexity and Critical heuristics.
    13. Taking stock of the course

3.  There are tensions between working on CriT for specific subjects and CriT in general.  Many of the class activities refer to specific subject areas, but are expressed in plain language and are not intended to require specialized knowledge in those subject areas.  The goal is more to stir up thinking about current practices that are widely accepted/ rarely questioned, which is sometimes easier for people who haven’t adopted the specialists’ frames of reference (week 6).  In that sense the activities are related to CriT in general.  In another way the course promotes CriT in general, namely, by leading students to set up practices that extend CriT, including practices of getting support for such practices.

4.  In the last class of the course we take stock so we can build in the future on what we (students and teachers) did well and less well in the course.

-One of the ways students who are teachers can extend this course is to remodel lesson plans so as to address some aspect(s) of CriT (see class 10).

5.  There’s a relationship here with meta-cognition or thinking about thinking.  To see places where alternatives could in principle be inserted, one has to not take something for granted, that is to stand back from what one would have taken as given, to move out of one’s usual frame of reference.

-Question: What are the sources of alternatives?  Through class activities we try i) to add items to your tool-kit of sources of “otherwise” — to make the items your own; and ii) to lead students to see that you can come up with them yourselves.

-There’s a relationship here with creative thinking.  The more items in one’s tool-kit of alternatives the more likely one is to be creative, to invent something unanticipated, to surprise oneself in a new situation.  (Invention is, according to furniture designer David Pye, never from nothing; it’s always a borrowing.)  Reciprocally, creative thinking activities may help add to one’s tool kit of alternatives.

-There’s another dimension to the interplay of critical & creative.  When the number of factors is small, it’s easier to use logic and to solve problems.  The real world, however, is often quite complex (class 12).  Critical thinking for an issue with a large number of factors may require Elbow’s expansive, freewriting, creative phase.

6.  In other words, CriT is not as negative as criticizing.  CriT involves being able to do something with thinking about alternatives.  To this end the course involves model activities; smaller, do-able alternatives (as against Big oppositions or sweeping scepticism) (class 5); dialogue (class 6); listening (class 7-9, 11); facilitated brainstorming leading to strategic, participatory planning (class 9, 11); support through struggle (see note 7); shedding light on why there’s emotional struggle about thinking otherwise (class 8,11).

-The category of “doing something” should include more than more thinking and inquiry.  Knowledge or accounts of the world are used to support action.  Moreover, choices made in the course of knowledge making correlate with the kinds of social actions favored by the person making the choices (see class 5 & 12).

7.  See tension in note 1.

8.  This requires support from others—recognizing and developing inter-dependency.  Inter- and intra-personal dimensions of critical thinking are the topics of many classes from 7 onwards.  In the meantime, we do have challenges, especially as a large class, in building a learning community that can work on inter- and intra-personal levels.  We started right out with ice-breakers, but we have to continue to risk connecting with others, and not to distance ourselves via clever thinking.

-Thinking about inter- and intra-personal dimensions leads me to think about Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences.  Are there kinesthetic, musical, naturalistic dimensions of critical thinking that should also be developed in the course?  Remember that Gardner’s theory says that working on each kind of intelligence also promotes development in the others.  Or is his theory that working on all kinds of intelligence promotes development in any specific one, e.g., logical, that might be dominant in a particular situation, e.g, a conventional academic test?

Design for living complexities, a course in development

Extracted from http://cct.wikispaces.com/design, a wikipage that invites reader input
Design is about intentionality in construction,
which involves

  • a range of materials,
  • a sequence of steps, and
  • principles that inform the choice of material and the steps.

Design always involves putting people as well as materials into place,
which may happen by

  • working with the known properties of the people and materials,
  • trying out new arrangements, or
  • working around their constraints (at least temporarily).

Critical thinking involves understanding ideas and practices better when we examine them in relation to alternatives.
This course exposes and explores alternative designs through

  • history (showing that things have by no means always been the way they are now),
  • archeology of the present” (shedding light on what we might have taken for granted or left as someone else’s responsibility/specialty),
  • comparison (looking at the ways things are arranged in different organizations and cultures), and
  • ill-defined problems (in cases of real-world “living complexity” that invite a range of responses).

In a sense, critical thinking is in design from the start, because design cannot proceed without the idea that there are alternatives to the current way of doing things.

Each course session:

  • issue about design [see below],
  • presentation (drawing on videos available online),
  • a case related to that issue -> students’ design sketches to address the case,
  • add to or revise a growing set of principles for critical thinking in design [listed below each issue].

 

1: Waste

Byproducts are products

2: Play

A yin and yang of design is intentional planning and play, to the extent that play involves ongoing experimenting and adjustment in putting people as well as materials into place.

3: Gathering into community

Putting people into place—as designers, users, co-designer-user—may happen by working with what you know about people, facilitating new arrangements, or working around their constraints.

4: Enabling

All disabilities can be reframed as opportunities to a) enable others and b) learn from those who are differently abled

5: Design thinking

(making such thinking available to all)
Imagine that you don’t say “it’s not my problem” or “this seems too hard for me to solve,” and imagine instead that, whatever your age or background, you can rise to the challenge and contribute, through a series of steps, to a prototype to be tested in the real world.

6: Craft, improvisation, innovation and uptake

(design thinking in professional and commercial practice)
Craft, innovation, improvisation and uptake are well-managed learning.

7: Standards, Modularity and Infrastructure

“All invention is borrowing” (D. Pye, furniture designer); infrastructure already in place, standards and modularity enable the designer to know the properties of borrowed materials and have some sense of the possibilities and limits of adaptation into new arrangements. Indeed, Pye’s dictum reminds us to build on what is already in place, not assume that new is better.

8: Local particularity

“All design is local” (to paraphrase Tip O’Neill)—ultimately what is designed has to work for particular people using the materials that can be made available in their particular setting.
To that end, a) the knowledge of the people most affected by the given issue needs to be brought into play and b) participation needs to be facilitated in ways that ensure that the full range of participants are invested in collaborating to bring the resulting design to fruition [see Gathering into community)
A corollary is for designers not to rely on early adopters of innovations, but to pay attention to users who, while prepared to adopt innovations, need them to be integrated with their own practical day-to-day concerns and specific situations [see innovation and uptake].
Finally, a corollary of all that is to acknowledge local distinctiveness or vernacular is to demand that the new keeps places worked in, lived in, not standardized, maintains employment etc.

9: Spanning distance

People distant in space can have their cultures profoundly shifted by mediated connections, especially those made around new technologies and the commodities they give rise to.

10: Integration of diverse social and material worlds

Instead of dividing real world complexities into many local situations (as if they were well-bounded systems with other processes pushed into the background or hidden for the time being), we can examine “intersecting processes” that cut across scales, involve heterogeneous components, and develop over time.
There is always a tension between, on one hand, local knowledge and solidarities forged through working and living together in particular places and, on the other hand, application of trans-local perspectives, abstractions, or other resources–or withholding such resources.
Within the intersecting processes, there are multiple potential points of engagement, which need to be linked together “transversally” in a manner that is intentional and explicit. In other words, if sustained engagement in local situations is desired to ensure that design is not a “solution.. for the problems that people don’t have” (Myles Horton), what else is needed to mitigate the consequences of decisions made in governments and corporations operating on a larger spatial and temporal arena?

11: Keeping track

Possibilities for surveillance are an unavoidable by-product of standards and of keeping track of the effects of one’s design.

12: Improving by taking stock (from design to adoption & adaption by others)

Making space to reflect, using various tools or processes, before proceeding either from one phase to another or on from an activity or event, makes it more difficult to simply continue along previous lines, opening up possibilities of alternative paths to proceed.

How can we ensure that we notice that we needed to probe assumptions we didn’t notice ourselves making?

I have long had a sense that affirmative action (such as it is/was) has been interpreted so that every white person who missed out on a job knew that they would have got the job if a black person hadn’t been favored (said without any sense of the arithmetic problems involved).

In this climate, the Supreme court is about to rule on the University of Texas’s use of race as one factor among many when considering who to accept among those who did not make the cut via the “top 10% of high school graduates in Texas” criterion.  It turns out that if the person in whose name the case is being presented, Abigail Fisher, had “received points for her race and every other personal achievement factor,” she would still have missed out according to UT university officials (Nikole Hannah-Jones in ProPublica).

Let me confess, however, that I had assumed that anti-affirmative-action litigators had found a white person for the case who had grades and a profile that would have gotten her in if race had not added points to an applicant of color.  This is certainly what the media coverage suggested until Hannah-Jones’s article.  This leads me to the critical thinking question: How can we ensure that we notice that we needed to probe assumptions we didn’t notice ourselves making?

I want to have guns because… (a critical thinking exericise)

Do you see something faulty in this account of three reasons one might want to have guns?

  1. I just want to have guns.
  2. I want to have guns because the Constitution gives me the right.
  3. I want to have guns so I can resist violations of the Constitution.

Take each in turn:

  1. -> Q: Why?
    • To protect myself against people who would harm me, especially with guns -> Q: What other forms of protection would suffice or do better?  (An elected government might provide some of these forms of protection.)
    • To be able to blast away others.  (An elected government should protect others by preventing this.)
    • To hunt -> Q: What is the minimum capacity gun that suffices for hunting? (An elected government might legislate this capacity as a limit to guns purchased.)
    • To resist an elected government if they do something I don’t like (including something I claim is against the Constitution).  -> Q: Would you ever rely on future elections and the Constitutional checks and balances to push back, without using guns, against what the government did?
  2. -> Q: Would giving everyone a simple, C18 militia-ready gun at age 18 (and controlling all other gun purchases) meet the requirement of 2nd amendment?
    • Yes.
    • No. In my view, this violates the Constitution.
    • No. In the view of the Courts, this violates the Constitution.
  3. ->Q: Who decides what violates the Constitution?
    • With respect to violations by elected governments, I accept that the Constitution provides for checks and balances. (If I didn’t, then I can’t appeal to rights provided by that same Constitution and I’d be back with #1 for why I want to have guns.)
    • Obviously, an invader or insurgency that overthrows the Constitutionally elected government violates the Constitution. However, if an elected government decides that the best defence against this possibility is through the military budget and diplomacy, not by endorsing individual gun ownership outside militias regulated by the government, then I would cease to invoke this possibility for why I want to have guns (even though I might get involved in elections to change the government or its policies). (If I kept invoking this possibility, then I would not be accepting the actions of the Constitutionally elected government, which means I’m not fully accepting the Constitution which would put me back with #1 for why I want to have guns.)

     

Having been asked for a guest blog post about creativity

I direct an unusual graduate program called Critical and Creative Thinking (http://www.cct.umb.edu).  I think we do quite well in achieving our goal, which is to provide our mid-career or career-changing students with “knowledge, tools, experience, and support so they can become constructive, reflective agents of change in education, work, social movements, science, and creative arts.”   Before explaining my sense of creativity, let me explain why critical thinking is combined with creative thinking and also, ‘though it is not in the name, with reflective practice.

Critical thinking, creative thinking, and reflective practice are valued, of course, in all fields. In critical thinking we seek to scrutinize the assumptions, reasoning, and evidence brought to bear on an issue-by others and by oneself; such scrutiny is enhanced by placing ideas and practices in tension with alternatives. Key functions of creative thinking include generating alternative ideas, practices, and solutions that are unique and effective, and exploring ways to confront complex, messy, ambiguous problems, make new connections, and see how things could be otherwise. In reflective practice we take risks and experiment in putting ideas into practice, then take stock of the outcomes and revise our approaches accordingly.

Against this backdrop, my thinking is that creativity comes not out of individual inspiration, but from borrowing and connecting.  The more items in your tool box—the more themes, heuristics (rules of thumb), and open questions you are working with—the more likely you are to make a new connection and see how things could be otherwise, that is, to be creative.  Yet, in order to build up a set of tools that works for you, it is necessary to experiment, take risks, and reflect on the outcomes.  Such reflective practice is like a journey into unfamiliar or unknown areas—it involves risk, opens up questions, provides more experiences than can be integrated at first sight, requires support, and yields personal change.  We might then say that creativity is part of what happens to “journeying inquirers.”

As an educator, I like to play with the 3Rs (only one of which actually starts with an R).  Here (from page 257 of Taking Yourself Seriously) are the many Rs that journeying inquirers might pursue—sometimes focusing in, sometimes opening out—in their personal and professional development as critical, creative, and reflective practitioners.

Reading

Review

Reasoning w/ respect to evidence & alternatives

Relationship w/ oneself (moving towards autonomy)

Reflection & metacognition

wRiting

Relationships w/ peers & allies (dialogue & collaboration)

Risk & experiment

Rest

Rearrange, adapt & create

Reception: being Read, heard, & Reviewed

Relationships w/ authority (negotiate power & standards)

Revision (incl. dialogue around written work)

Relaxation

Research & evaluation (learning from the work of others & your own)

Respect (explore difference)

Responsibility (concern w/ aims, means & consequences)

Repose

Recursion & practice (address same concern from many angles & in variety of settings)

Reevaluation (of emotions at root of responses) so as to better take initiative

Reconstruction (personal/organizational/social change)

Critical, Creative and Reflective Practice: Contents of a possible booklet

The previous post introduced a possible booklet on supporting the development of critical thinking, creative thinking and reflective practice.  Here is a possible Table of Contents (drawn from article as well as from the book Taking Yourself Seriously).

Part 1
Sense of Place Map (with diagram or example)
Daily writing
Phases of Research & Engagement
The many Rs of personal and professional development
Making Space for Taking Initiative in and through Relationships
Developing a Critical Thinking manifesto (with example)
Supportive Listening
Varieties of feedback (excerpts from Elbow with permission) & example of believing and doubting
Challenges of supporting critical thinking
Avid learning/Probe-Connect-Reflect-Create Change
4Rs
Dialogue Process
5-phase format
Small group roles
“Office hours”
Conditions for a successful workshop

Part 2
Stories of people developing as reflective practitioners

Critical, Creative and Reflective Practice: Sketch of a possible booklet

The small critical thinking guides of Richard Paul and Linda Elder have received wide circulation, but the Critical & Creative Thinking graduate program at UMass Boston has something distinctive to convey about supporting the development of critical thinking, as well as creative thinking and reflective practice. Thus this sketch of a possible booklet.

A small guide to Critical, Creative and Reflective Practice

Tools and Processes

In a sense subscribed to by all teachers, critical thinking means that students are bright and engaged, ask questions, and think about the course materials until they understand well established knowledge and competing approaches. This becomes more significant when students develop their own processes of active inquiry, which they can employ in new situations, beyond the bounds of our particular classes, indeed, beyond their time as students. My sense of critical thinking is, however, more specific; it depends on inquiry being informed by a strong sense of how things could be otherwise. I want students to see that they understand things better when they have placed established facts, theories, and practices in tension with alternatives. At this level, critical thinking should not depend on students rejecting conventional accounts, but they do have to move through uncertainty. Their knowledge is, at least for a time, destabilized; what has been established cannot be taken for granted. Students can no longer expect that if they just wait long enough the teacher will provide complete and tidy conclusions; instead they have to take a great deal of responsibility for their own learning. Anxieties inevitably arise for students when they have to respond to new situations knowing that the teacher will not act as the final arbiter of their success. A high level of critical thinking is possible when students explore such anxieties and gain the confidence to face uncertainty and ambiguity. To develop as a critical thinker is, then, like journeying into unfamiliar areas, which involves risk, opens up questions, creates more experiences than can be integrated at first, requires support, and yields personal and professional change. In a similar spirit, in Reflective Practice students take risks and experiment in putting ideas into practice, then take stock of the outcomes and revise their approaches accordingly. Creative Thinking is about generating alternative ideas, practices, and solutions, exploring ways to confront complex, messy, ambiguous problems, making new connections, and seeing how things could be otherwise—that is, formulating alternatives that can be held in tension with previous ideas and practices.

This booklet describes a range of tools and processes that provide space and support for students to develop as critical thinkers, creative thinkers, and reflective practitioners. The key challenge is to help people make knowledge and practice from insights and experience that they are not prepared, at first, to acknowledge. Each entry then raises some questions for further inquiry or discussion. The hope is that the booklet as a whole stimulates readers to grapple with issues they were not aware they faced and to generate questions beyond those any teacher presents. We invite readers to understand this booklet’s emphasis on the intra- and inter-personal by placing it in tension with philosophical formulations of teaching critical thinking that insist that students scrutinize the reasoning, assumptions, and evidence behind claims and adopt the connotations that the term “critical” often has with judgement and finding fault according to some standards.

See next post for possible Table of Contents.

Vertical/unity and Horizontal/change: New prospectus and bio

Continuing a series of posts on the development of the Collaborative for Exploration of Scientific and Political Change within the framework of Ben Schwendener’s Seminar on Creativity.

—-

10 June 2011
New prospectus and bio

The Collaborative for Exploration of Scientific and Political Change seeks to support inquiries, teaching-learning interactions, and other practices of critical intellectual exchange and cooperation that challenge the barriers of expertise, gender, race, class, and place that normally restrict access to, understanding of, and influence on the production of scientific knowledge and technologies.

The Collaborative builds on a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) approach to education that allows students to shape their own directions of inquiry and develop their skills as investigators and prospective teachers (in the broadest sense of the word).

A deeper rationale for the Collaborative can be given, involving the ways that we have to bridge gaps in our inherently unbounded realities, which can be enhanced through a sequence of 4Rs—Respect, Risk, Revelation, and Re-engagement. Before asking for these ideas to be explained, consider the following bio.

Bio—Peter Taylor
How have I come to be the kind of person who would initiate a Collaborative for Exploration of Scientific and Political Change? Let me tease out four strands to my story. (If readers resonate with any one of these strands, I encourage them to participate in the Collaborative; through the ensueing experience the other strands might eventually make more sense.)

1. Social change activism lies behind the Collaborative’s explicit mission of challenging the barriers of expertise, gender, race, class, and place in science. During the 1970s my environmental and social activism in Australia led to studies and research in ecology and agriculture. I moved to the United States to undertake doctoral studies in ecology with advisors who saw their scientific and political work as part of the same cloth. I continue to promote this vision of science as politics, even as I have become less active in social movements.

2. Investigation of complexity and change describes my work in ecology and environmental studies, as well as when I analyze and interpret the social situation in which research is undertaken (contributing what is now called science and technology studies or STS. In recent years my investigations of complexity and change have extended to social epidemiological approaches that address the life course development of health and behavior.) I argue that both the situations studied and the social situation of the researchers can be characterized in terms of “unruly complexity” or “intersecting processes” that cut across scales, involve heterogeneous components, and develop over time. These cannot be understood from an outside view; instead positions of engagement must be taken within the complexity. Knowledge production needs to be linked with planning for action and action itself in an ongoing process so that knowledge, plans, and action can be continually reassessed in response to developments — predicted and surprising alike.

3. Innovation in teaching and participatory process. Having this last picture in mind, I explore ways to stimulate researchers (and students training to become researchers) to examine the complexity of their social situatedness so as to change the ways they address the complexity of the situations they study. In broader terms, I want researchers and students to be critical thinkers and reflective practitioners in the sense of contrasting established paths in science, education, and society with others that might be taken, acting upon the insights gained, and taking stock of outcomes. The tools and processes I experiment with in workshops and teaching draw on my work at the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMB) directing Critical and Creative Thinking (CCT), a graduate Program that aims to provide its mid-career or career-changing students with “knowledge, tools, experience, and support so they can become constructive, reflective agents of change in education, work, social movements, science, and creative arts.”

4. Institutional development. Bringing critical analysis of science to bear on the practice and applications of science has not been well developed or supported institutionally, so I contribute actively to new collaborations, programs, and other activities, new directions for existing programs, and collegial interactions across disciplines. In particular, the new CCT track on “Science in the Changing World” and the undergraduate Program in Science, Technology and Values at UMB as well as the New England Workshop on Science and Social Change give me opportunities to develop courses and to promote discussion and teaching innovation concerning the interactions between scientific developments. My experience teaching two graduate courses using a Problem-Based Learning approach—Scientific and Political Change, and Gender, Race and the Complexities of Science and Technology—has led me to this latest initiative, the Collaborative for Exploration of Scientific and Political Change.

For more details, see:
1. Taylor, P.J. (2010) “Biology as Politics: The Direct and Indirect Effects of Lewontin and Levins (An essay review of Biology Under the Influence: Dialectical Essays on Ecology, Agriculture, and Health),” Science as Culture, 19 (2): 241-253.
2. —— (2005) Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
3. —— (2009) Guided Tour of Peter Taylor’s teaching, http://cct.wikispaces.umb.edu/PJTTeaching
4. —— (2011). Guided Tour of Peter Taylor’s service, http://ptaylor.wikispaces.umb.edu/servicereview

Vertical-unity—Notes towards a new bio for the person behind the creative project

Continuing a series of posts on the development of the Collaborative for Exploration of Scientific and Political Change within the framework of Ben Schwendener’s Seminar on Creativity.  One of Ben’s requirements is to write a bio for the person behind the creative project.

——–

7 June ’11
Notes towards a new bio

Let me step back from previous bios and tease out what it means to be a facilitator of learning in workshops like the one from the late 1980s.

Facilitator brings tools and processes to the attention of learners who study situations

  • at the same time as learning about their own situatedness
    • in order to change the situatedness, the study, and the situations
    • (Actually, change is always already happening; appearances of stasis have to be actively constructed)

One aspect of unruly complexity at each level (i.e., situations, situatedness, changing both) is the use of Discursive Reductions (of the complexity into simple themes),

To this end, the tools and processes are designed with respect -> risk -> revelation -> re-engagement in mind

  • where re-engagement includes happiness learning in the present (Makiguchi)
  • and taking initiative in and through relationships
    • which necessitates juggling of the six aspects of the Mandala–
    • Indeed, the very ambiguity of this juggling is experienced happily.

Complementing this inward, disposition sense, re-engagement also includes action in the following directions:

  • Probing
  • Connecting
  • Creating change
  • Reflecting

Always such reflective practice opens up the unruly complexity in order to move in those directions.
(Attempting to move in those directions without paying attention to the heterogeneity of components, their development over time, and their embeddedness in wider dynamics is to

  • rely on Method
  • miss opportunities for happiness in the present
  • restrict the very movements, and
  • inhibit the flexible combination of opening up and direction-finding

Tension between open spaces and closing off of spaces…
Flexible engagement…

Ambiguities

  1. Inward sense and an emphasis on process, not on the specifics of change in particular situations
  2. Opening up and open spaces, stepping away from the closings off and Discursive Reductions that may be a regrettably necessary part of specific situations
  3. My emphasis on the inward sense, process, opening up, and open spaces is not simply a practical matter of using the limited time available, the specific circumstances I’m in, and the realization that #1 and 2 make me happier. It’s also a move to avoid grappling with the kind of change in situatedness, study, and situations that I profess to be preparing others to make.

So, let me admit that shadow, but modulate it: Set up support for myself as a facilitator of learning (e.g., having an assistant for the Collaborative) in a way that enables me to be a learner as well. My learning is more about studying situations than it is about changing situatedness, study, and situations.

Admitting my shadow affirms or heightens the advice that the six aspects of the Mandala need to be juggled, that is, kept in the air at the same time. It especially pushes back against the hierarchical expectation in which I am the initiator by virtue of bringing tools and processes and perhaps by having made more contributions to the topic or issue at hand. Indeed, there is a deeper ethic or ideal of mutual aid and free association here. Learners can be seen as free apprentices, aiming to draw what they can from my facilitation (in the areas of tools & processes, connections, and contributions to the topic) so that they can then “hang out their own shingles” as facilitators of learning—Learning especially about unruly complexity of situations, situatedness, and change.

All this applies even when the topic of issue at hand is not obviously about science and technology. When the Collaborative’s initial prospectus refers to undermining barriers of access to the production of scientific knowledge and technology, I mean re-engagement, with all that goes into that.

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