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The Dialogic Learning Weekly #146

Welcome to another Friday newsletter. This week we navigate our way through the murky waters of uncer
The Dialogic Learning Weekly
The Dialogic Learning Weekly #146
By Tom Barrett • Issue #146 • View online
Welcome to another Friday newsletter. This week we navigate our way through the murky waters of uncertainty and doubt. Below we have provocations, readings and strategies that might help you appreciate uncertainty a little better and the role it plays in leadership and learning. Let’s get into it!

Your Negative Capability
A sense of calm assurance and innovatory endeavour
You will have experienced those meetings or workshops where there is more doubt and uncertainty in the room than you were all expecting - it is how we all respond in those scenarios that signals a level of negative capability.
It is a mental model that I regularly reflect on and observe throughout my development work with leaders and teachers.
Take a look at how Richard Foreman, the playwright and director, describes it:
Being able to exist with lucidity and calm amidst uncertainty, mystery and doubt, without “irritable (and always premature) reaching out” after fact and reason.
In my article below I share a few strategies to help you embrace the state of change and the unknown.
  1. Accept the mess
  2. Reflect on how uncertainty makes you feel
  3. Trust the process
Uncertainties, mysteries and how to nurture your negative capability – Tom Barrett
The Virtues of Uncertainty
What do we all need to navigate this uncertain world?
Guy Claxton explains that “Learning is what happens when you struggle at the leading edge of your competence, not when you stay in your comfort zone.”
Comfort stems from familiarity but what is at the leading edge? Well it is probably less clear for us and much more uncertain. Undoubtedly there is doubt.
In the longer piece below Guy Claxton explores some of the ways we might articulate the virtues of uncertainty in much more concrete terms. He shares eight such learning virtues:
  1. Curiosity is the starting point. If you are not interested in things that are difficult or puzzling, you won’t engage. 
  2. Young people surely need courage.
  3. Exploration is the active counterpart of curiosity.
  4. Experimentation is the virtue of the practical inventor, actively trying things out to see if they work.
  5. Imagination is the virtue of fantasy, of using the inner world as a test-bed for ideas and as a theatre of possibilities.
  6. The creativity of imagination needs to be yoked to the virtue of discipline; of being able to think carefully, rigorously and methodically, as well as to take an imaginative leap.
  7. The virtue of sociability, and of judiciously balancing sociability with solitariness, also seems essential.
  8. Finally there is the virtue of mindfulness, in the sense of being disposed to reflection and contemplation, taking time to mull things over, take stock and consider alternative strategies.
A life of tests is no preparation for the tests of life – Guy Claxton
The Benefits of Doubt
Why doubt makes ideas stronger, leaders better, and life more wonderful
Learning has an intricate relationship with doubt. It seems they exist simultaneously in tension and dependence. Jason Fox explains,
It’s quite apparent that doubt is fundamental to all discovery, learning and growth. It’s an inherent element of the scientific method, and the precursor to all great questions and breakthroughs. Doubt births wisdom.
In his article he shares another triad of ideas about the potential benefits of doubt:
  1. Doubt makes ideas stronger
  2. Doubt makes leaders better
  3. Doubt makes life more wonderful
I particularly enjoyed his exploration of how our thinking and ideas are strengthened by dollops of doubt.
Doubt makes us ask more questions—better questions—which makes us explore more pathways. This, in turn, can lead to more clarity, confidence and conviction. We see more, and through the pursuit of good questions; we know more.
The 3 Hidden Benefits of Doubt - Dr Jason Fox
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Welcome to all the new subscribers this week it is great to have you onboard - let me know what you think of your first Dialogic Learning Weekly newsletter.
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See you next Friday.
~ Tom 
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Tom Barrett

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