LO: learning or teaching list? LO24458

From: Malcolm Burson (mburson@mint.net)
Date: 04/25/00

Replying to LO24384 et seq. --

At 01:25 AM 4/19/00 +0200, Winfried wrote:
>I have something on my chest I want to share with this list.
>It is about a tendency I have noticed within me in connection to this
>list, in particular the way I browse through the messages. I am skipping a
>lot of it. It feels for me more and more as if I have read before most of
>the stuff that comes up; the words may have changed but the topics and
>content remain more or less the same. Am I mistaken?
>What happened to Isaac Williams? Ben Compton? Art Kleiner? Steve Eskow?
>Scott Simmermann?

Winfried, and all those who have contributed since then:

At the risk of seeming a curmudegeonly "old timer" (I believe I've been a
participant here since 1995), I'm intrigued that not only (as Winfriend
observes) the topics and content of our conversation seem to be
re-cycling, but also that a second-order conversation about this very fact
is ALSO on its third or fourth iteration on the list! Several
possibilities occur (and these, too, have been voiced before):

(a) that it's in the nature of lists such as ours to keep plowing old
ground as new participants arrive and former members depart, taking with
them some institutional memory. This has a nice parallel in what happens
in many of our organizations;

(b) there's really nothing new under the sun;

(c) there is a process continually at work in large groups and
organizations by which certain opinion leaders come to the forefront, and
by the force of their personalities, the insistence of their opinions,
etc. cause/allow others less forceful to feel undervalued and thus leave,

(d) a range of further possibilities, most of which remind us of the
extent to which our processes on the L-O list mirror the wider world from
which we come.

Possible conclusion: we are not exempt from the same forces with which we
struggle in our work as practitioners, consultants and/or academics. How,
then, shall we turn this to advantage and learn from it?

In the interest of full disclosure, let me say that I cycle in and out of
close reading of all messages, preferring more often (as Rick as often
suggested) to screen my reading based on threads of interest, and,
sometimes, the names of contributors. And I generally screen out the
longer, more abstruse discourses of our worthy colleagues, simply because
they don't help me learn, at least at the moment. [This is now, I think,
the longest message I've ever posted; bear with me if you will]. And I,
too, can think of those sages once read here who no longer seem to be with
us: Doc Holloway, Rol Fessenden, Michael McMaster come to mind.

At the risk of seeming pretentious, I offer a modest proposal:
Let us measure our contributions against some of our "founding principles."
These would be mine:
1. How well am I balancing inquiry with advocacy in my writing?
2. What am I doing to further the whole, speak to the entire "room" as
compared with responding or answering one other person?
3. How well have I listened?
4. How well have I suspended my assumptions for others to explore?

What do others think?

Malcolm Burson


Malcolm Burson mburson@mint.net

"I never saw an instance of one or two disputants convincing the other by argument." --- Th. Jefferson

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <Richard@Karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>

"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.