Teaching as learning

April 13, 2015

MWM10112My annual trip to Nice to teach the Masters programme in Entrepreneurship.   It’s a regular routine by now, land at Nice and walk through the IBIS for a meal and bed followed by a full days teaching and a beer with Charles before flying back to London.  Now I teach on a fair number of Masters programmes, so far not to undergraduates.   Despite the fact I am frequently going through familiar material it never seems so at the time.  Either a whole day class like today or a keynote, all teaching provides an opportunity for learning.

I’ve found that over the years, whenever I teach, even a basic Cynefin presentation, I learn more through the act of exposition.   A lot of the best developments not only of the models, but of the best way to present them have come to me on my feet.  Some are mischiefious, such as the addition of Appreciative Inquiry to the Children’s Party Story.   That came to me in a major keynote in the Arts Centre in Melbourne where I could see a cluster of AI practitioners at the back of the hall.  Some a whole new ways of explaining things such as the use of exo/endoskeleton as a metaphor (although it may become more).

There is something about an interaction between a speaker and an audience which makes for invention.  Of course it means that as a speaker you have to be listening to the audience for this to work.  Now I have put that in italics as its not listening to what they say, as disputation or question, but to multiple stimuli some of which you are aware of, some of which seem to operate at a level other that conscious appreciation.  It’s something special when it really gets going but you have to be careful nor to get carried away!  Audiences can be a drug at times and the seduction is to be embraced to a degree.

Now audiences enjoy this as much as a speaker.   So I never understand those who seem to think that advocating discussion or the un-conference (both of which I think are key) involves denigration of formal teaching or speaking.   All work in different ways and to the overall benefit of knowledge and insight.  In my more cynical moods I think of those to take this position have simply failed to be able to engage an audience in that way, but most are genuine.  Communication is too important to humans to be channeled into a single approach.

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

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