Monday, December 2, 2013

Slow Learning

After (admittedly only a little) exploration, it seems to me that unplugged teaching is a form of adaptive leadership. (See word cloud for other recent posts.) Exploring a bit more over the last day, I've discovered "complexity leadership" which poses a way to introduce and support adaptive leadership in an organization. The teachers (in the case of ELT) promote emergence while more traditional leaders do administrative stuff and another type of leadership supports the interface between these two (if I understand my skimming, that is). Very interesting! Here's the PDF by Uhl-Bien, Marion, McKelvey. Some quotes from the introductory material:

"Complexity science suggests a different paradigm for leadership—one that frames leadership as a complex interactive dynamic from which adaptive outcomes (e.g., learning, innovation, and adaptability) emerge."

"Adaptive challenges are not amenable to authoritative fiat or standard operating procedures, but rather require exploration, new discoveries, and adjustments."

"Leadership, however it is defined, only exists in, and is a function of, interaction."
Creatively re-used stuff (and me). Magic Gardens, Philadelphia
And, in a slightly-related discovery, here's an interesting article by Atul Gawande from the New Yorker. It proposes that some good ideas propagate into common use more slowly than others:

"[many important but stalled ideas] attack problems that are big but, to most people, invisible; and making them work can be tedious, if not outright painful. The global destruction wrought by a warming climate, the health damage from our over-sugared modern diet, the economic and social disaster of our trillion dollars in unpaid student debt—these things worsen imperceptibly every day."

In the case of language learning, a learner's situation doesn't worsen, but unplugged teaching may not be readily adopted or supported because a learner's improvement changes imperceptibly every day. Traditional teaching produces something that's easier to measure (it's not necessarily language learning, though!).

Gawande comes to a familiar conclusion:

"Every change requires effort, and the decision to make that effort is a social process."

He's involved in testing this idea via a project in north India where mentors work with nurses on a personal basis to encourage the taking of a simple step to improve newborn survival rates. This isn't a complexity issue. The problem and its solution are clear. But it's interesting that it still seems to need a social solution because its effects are invisible to the people who need to practice it.

No comments:

Post a Comment