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The Dialogic Learning Weekly #178

Welcome along to this week's issue. Today: the place for silence in dialogue; assuming we are wrong a
The Dialogic Learning Weekly
The Dialogic Learning Weekly #178
By Tom Barrett • Issue #178 • View online
Welcome along to this week’s issue. Today: the place for silence in dialogue; assuming we are wrong as a critical thinking routine; how shame is one of the linchpins of a bullying teacher.

Silence: Planned and Awkward
It is a curiosity that we are so unaccustomed to prolonged periods of silence when we are meeting, creating and talking with others.
We feel an awkwardness because we are so used to the typical signals of participation. Talking means participation, right? It also feels like progress. Silence = slowing = stalling = progress grinding to a halt. Right?
The social norms of conversation, discussion and dialogue don’t allow us the chance for empty, quiet, silent spaces. When it happens, we immediately try and fill the void.
I would love to hear your stories about awkward silences and the different experiences you have had. Drop me a note.
I have to be quite disciplined about this when I am facilitating. I know I talk too much sometimes, and I need to step back more. I deliberately plan for thinking time either before sharing reflections or during a gathering of ideas from a team.
I enjoyed some of the ideas shared in the article below about the way Elon Musk and Steve Jobs are disciplined in their silence before answering questions. It is worth watching the Steve Jobs example on Youtube (link in the article).
How do you ensure thinking time is the norm?
Why Intelligent Minds Like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs Embrace the Rule of Awkward Silence
Aim To Be Less Wrong
In my exploration of the previous section on critical thinking and silence, I tumbled down a rabbit hole. I was struck by a comment made by Elon Musk that he tries to be less wrong every day, a mindset and approach that Physics (and Science) has taught him.
This took me in two distinct directions, what might this mean for (1) the science of learning and assessment; (2) feedback and critique.
When we think of assessment in education, broadly speaking, we (teachers) are attempting to identify what a student understands and can do, and plan the next steps to progress learning.
But, importantly, do we assume those assessments are right? What would happen if we began with the assumption that our assessments are wrong?
The other path I pondered on was the dynamic of feedback. You may have picked up that feedback is a topic I am always trying to learn more about.
The assumption of right or wrong is a useful addition to our understanding about why some people are so ineffective at receiving feedback.
Assuming you are right might be a motivating force, sustaining the enormous effort that conducting scientific work requires. But it also makes it easy to construe criticisms as personal attacks, and for scientific arguments to devolve into personal battles. Beginning, instead, from the assumption you are wrong, a criticism is easier to construe as a helpful pointer, a constructive suggestion for how to be less wrong — a goal that your critic presumably shares.
What could you say, to invite critique, that frames your open disposition and your readiness to listen to constructive suggestions?
A New Goal: Aim To Be Less Wrong
[If you are interested in a longer read on this topic and the cognitive science behind it, get in touch]
Shame and Embarrassment
To finish this week, a series of Tweets I stumbled on in my timeline, that provoked thinking. 💭 🤔
It starts with this one about teachers using behaviourist strategies. (If you click the Twitter links below you will see the full thread.)
Mother Bae I
Teachers are some of the biggest bullies, and many of them justify it because they are Skinnerians.
Mother Bae I
Shame is one of the linchpins of a bully teacher. Shame and embarrassment.
These ideas cut through. They are direct and provocative and, I hope, shine a light on some of the laziest practice in the teaching profession. Here is another.
Mother Bae I
Behaviorism is so insidious and counterproductive to actual teaching and learning because it goes off of the assumption that most people behave alike, so when someone’s behavior is not modified by it’s tactics, that person has a disability - dyslexia, adhd.
I enjoyed finding these ideas because it caused me to stop, reflect on my practice and consider my approach.
They force me to think about the labels we create for convenience and how sometimes students spend their whole education experience trying to tear them off.
I encourage you to explore the Tweets and do your own reflection.
Thanks for taking the time to explore the 178th issue.
In dialogue we trust.
~ Tom
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Tom Barrett

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