Engaging with—and within—diverse adults II

The previous post introduced a combination of inward and outward angles of view that emerged in a session on engaging with diverse adult populations.  I have a hypothesis about this, but first some preamble.  As one participant commented during the discussion, a group in a well-facilitated discussion, such as a dialogue process, is more intelligent than any one individual member.  For example, as one individual, I had no idea—I would not have predicted—that the three talks in the session would resonate with each other, as well as with the concerns of audience members, nor that the resonance would be around the inward-outward combination.

Now, the outward view of engaging with diversity is that different voices should be heard; for that to happen requires attention to the conditions that make it possible for people even to be present, physically or metaphorically.  Without that, they cannot be heard.  The inward angle of view is that each of our life courses involve multiple, diverse experiences and qualities.  These can be acknowledged in conducive conditions—with all their tensions and contradictions, backwards steps as well as advances—and this allows us to be authentic when we speak and interact.  Authentic here means not to be channeled by what we think others think we should be saying or not, doing or refraining from doing.   Our outward engagements across difference can be based on more confidence and risk-taking when the inward attention to our own diverse qualities has happened—when practice is built on reflection that lets our lives speak.

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About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches and directs undergraduate and graduate programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society. His research and writing focuses on the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context, incl. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (U. Chicago Press, 2005) and Nature-nurture? No (2014, http://bit.ly/NNN2014). On reflective practice, see Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research & Engagement (with J. Szteiter, 2012, http://bit.ly/TYS2012).

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