Monday, 21 December 2015

appreciative inquiry is not problem-solving

There is problem-solving:
Jay Doubleyou: questioning and problem-solving

And there is 'appreciative inquiry': 

... the overuse of "problem solving" as a model often held back analysis and understanding, focusing on problems and limiting discussion of new organizational models.[1]

Appreciative inquiry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Appreciative Inquiry - Vivacci

Housing Day 2014 – An Appreciative Inquiry | Our Castle's Strength

Appreciative Inquiry - UBC Human Resources

There are a lot of tools out there:
The Appreciative Inquiry Commons

There are related ideas:
Positive psychology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Martin Seligman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And examples of not just doing problem-solving:

The king of problem solving was F W Taylor:

Friday, 18 December 2015

the trivium method of critical thinking and creative problem solving

From the Simple English Wikipedia pages:

Trivium (liberal arts)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The word trivium, from Latin, is made of two parts. The first part tres meant "three" and the second part vía meant "way".
In antiquity and the High Middle Ages, there were different ways of teaching young men at the university. The trivium was three simplest ways to study the world, and so young men learned them first. After the trivium, they studied the quadrivium. Together, these subjects were called the seven liberal arts. The most difficult, and final subject studied was theology.
The three subjects were related to talking about the world. These subjects were grammarlogic and rhetoric. They were ways of preparing for the quadrivium, which includes arithmetic,geometrymusic and astronomy.


One way of studying the world is to look at the form of the words. Grammar is the mechanics of the language. When a man studied grammar, he studied how words were put together, and how words were combined to make sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and stories.
The word "grammar" has a more limited meaning now than it did before now. Many subjects, such as syntax and phonetics were part of grammar.


One way of studying the world is to look at the meaning of words. Logic is the mechanics of thought and analysis. Logic is the study of how meanings are related to each other, and how to make good decisions. A fallacy is when someone does not draw a conclusion according to the rules of logic. An old name for logic was dialectics.


One way of studying the world is to look at communicating with words. Rhetoric is the mechanics of discourse. Discourse is the process of two or more people communicating about an idea. Young men studied rhetoric in order to learn how to instruct and to persuade.

Related pages

Trivium (liberal arts) - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Here is a website devoted to the Trivium
Trivium Education Home - Trivium
Trivium - Trivium

And here is an excellent website:
Resources for the Trivium Method of Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving, useful to the Peace Revolution curriculum

The British writer Dorothy L Sayers had some very clear insights into the system. Here is the central section from a brilliant piece she wrote:

My views about child psychology are, I admit, neither orthodox nor enlightened. Looking back upon myself (since I am the child I know best and the only child I can pretend to know from inside) I recognize three states of development. These, in a rough-and- ready fashion, I will call the Poll-Parrot, the Pert, and the Poetic--the latter coinciding, approximately, with the onset of puberty. 
The Poll-Parrot stage is the one in which learning by heart is easy and, on the whole, pleasurable; whereas reasoning is difficult and, on the whole, little relished. At this age, one readily memorizes the shapes and appearances of things; one likes to recite the number-plates of cars; one rejoices in the chanting of rhymes and the rumble and thunder of unintelligible polysyllables; one enjoys the mere accumulation of things. 
The Pert age, which follows upon this (and, naturally, overlaps it to some extent), is characterized by contradicting, answering back, liking to "catch people out" (especially one's elders); and by the propounding of conundrums. Its nuisance-value is extremely high. It usually sets in about the Fourth Form. 
The Poetic age is popularly known as the "difficult" age. It is self-centered; it yearns to express itself; it rather specializes in being misunderstood; it is restless and tries to achieve independence; and, with good luck and good guidance, it should show the beginnings of creativeness; a reaching out towards a synthesis of what it already knows, and a deliberate eagerness to know and do some one thing in preference to all others. 
Now it seems to me that the layout of the Trivium adapts itself with a singular appropriateness to these three ages: Grammar to the Poll-Parrot, Dialectic to the Pert, and Rhetoric to the Poetic age.

The Lost Tools of Learning
The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

kolb's learning cycle

How do we learn?
Jay Doubleyou: explaining how your country's education system works
Jay Doubleyou: task-based learning
Jay Doubleyou: multiple intelligences: shown in a clever way
Jay Doubleyou: behaviourism >>> krashen... pinker... skinner... chomsky
Jay Doubleyou: socratic method
Jay Doubleyou: behaviourism >>> and learning objectives >>> and the common european framework

This is the understanding of how we learn from David Kolb:
David A. Kolb - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Some very good explanations at businessballs:
kolb's learning styles, experiential learning theory, kolb's learning styles inventory and diagram
Businessballs free online learning

It's all about learning to learn:
Experiential Learning
Example 1 - Kolb's Learning Cycle | Models for structuring reflection | Skills for Learning Preview

It's central to learning languages:
Mondo's ESL/EFL World: Kolb's Learning Style Inventory
Everything TESOL: The Experiential Learning Cycle: Promoting Positive Teaching Practices

Here's a very useful summary:

David Kolb, The Theory of Experiential Learning and ESL

Curtis Kelly
ctskelly [at] [at]
Heian Jogakuin College (Osaka, Japan)
It will soon be twenty years old, but the Theory of Experiential Learning has had little presence in ESL. "Experiential" learning is not just "fieldwork" or "praxis" (the connecting of learning to real life situations) although it is the basis for these approaches, it is a theory that defines the cognitive processes of learning. In particular, it asserts the importance of critical reflection in learning. As we shall see, David Kolb was one of the key contributors.

Background: 20th Century Theories of Learning

In my opinion, the greatest single event in this century that has shaped our view of teaching did not occur in the field of education at all, but rather, in psychology. It was the dramatic shift in the early sixties from the reductionist view of human behavior to non-reductionist view.
In the first half of this century, a reductionist view of human behavior - behaviorialism - dominated the field. Behaviorialism, a Pavlovian view of human learning developed by Watson, Hull and Thorndike reached its heyday in the 1950's, in B.F. Skinner's work on operant psychology and reinforcement. It was reductionist because it used a "black box" approach based in empiricism, much like the approach a chemist might use. Since one cannot observe what is happening in the brain, we should limit our measurements and theories to merely what is going in - the stimulus - and what is coming out - the response. By mid-century, the S-R view was so powerful that it dominated other fields of human science as well: education, linguistics and sociology. But such a simplified view left much to be desired. Classical conditioning alone could not explain what Jean Piaget had observed, that children go through stages of development that have no relation to external stimuli. Somehow, he proposed, the brain itself is actively involved in the learning process.
As a result, the sixties and seventies saw the reductionist view displaced by far more complex non-reductionist views. The break was so dramatic as to be a major paradigm shift. It occurred in psychology through the work of Piaget - child development and schema - and Gagne - eight categories of learning (Travers, 1977), while in linguistics it occurred as a result of Noam Chomskey's introduction of transformational grammar. The non-reductionist perspective did not lead directly to the Theory of Experiential Learning itself, but, it spawned a number of its predecessors: new interpretations known as as cognitive theories and revitalized progressivism known as humanist theories. Cognitive theorists, such as Bloom, dealt with the hierarchical nature of knowledge in the cognitive domain, while humanists, such as Maslow, concentrated of the affective domain and how "learners attempts to take control of their own life processes" (Rogers, 1996, p. 100).
Both fields acknowledged the importance of experience, but neither could formulate an adequate theory as to its function in learning. Even as late as 1980, experience was seen as merely being a source of stimuli. Even in the fourth edition of Travers' widely-used Essentials of Learning, a college-level textbook on Educational Psychology, there is no index entry for "experience" and learning is defined as "a relative permanent change in a response R as a result of exposure to stimuli S." (Travers, 1977, pp. 616, 618, & 6)
However, cognitive and humanistic research pointed more and more towards the importance of experience. For example, we can see the rudiments of the experiential theory in Saljo's 1979 hierarchy of student views of learning.
  1. Learning brings about increase in knowledge. (knowing a lot)
  2. Learning is memorizing. (storing information for easy recall)
  3. Learning is about developing skills and methods, and acquiring facts that can be used as necessary.
  4. Learning is about making sense of information, extracting meaning and relating information to everyday life.
  5. Learning is about understanding the world through reinterpreting knowledge.
Saljo found that the more life experience a student has the more likely they are to view learning as an internal, experience-based process, as in steps four and five, rather than as an external process as in steps one through three. (Saljo, 1979, summarized in Banyard, 1994. pp. 303-4) Nonetheless, the theory of experiential learning did not gain prominence until the work of Mezirow, Freire, Kolb and Gregorc in the 1980's.

Experiential Learning Theory

In the early 1980's, Mezirow, Freire and others stressed that the heart of all learning lies in the way we process experience, in particular, our critical reflection of experience. They spoke of learning as a cycle that begins with experience, continues with reflection and later leads to action, which itself becomes a concrete experience for reflection (Rogers, 1996). For example, a teacher might have an encounter with an angry student who failed a test. This is the experience. Reflection of this experience would involve trying to explain it to oneself: comparing it to previous experiences to determine what is the same and what is unique, analyzing it according to personal or institutional standards, and formulating a course of action connected to the experiences of others, such as talking to other teachers who have also faced angry students. Talking to other teachers, the action, will then lead to further reflection.
Kolb further refined the concept of reflection by dividing it into two separate learning activities, perceiving and processing. (Algonquin, 1996) He thus added another stage, called "Abstract Conceptualization." Whereas in the Critical Reflection stage we ask questions about the experience in terms of previous experiences, in the Abstract Conceptualization stage, we try to find the answers. We make generalizations, draw conclusions and form hypotheses about the experience. The Action phase, in light of his interpretation, then becomes a phase of Active Experimentation, where we try the hypotheses out. As Kolb says:
Abstract Conceptualization:
"In this stage, learning involves using logic and ideas, rather than feelings to understand problems or situations. Typically, you would rely on systematic planning and develop theories and ideas to solve problems."
Active Experimentation:
"Learning in this stage takes an active form - experimenting with, influencing or changing situations. You would take a practical approach and be concerned with what really works..." (p.4)
fig. 1
Figure 1. Experiential learning cycle
Kolb went on to develop the Learning Style Inventory to help learners understand their strengths and weaknesses. The inventory measures the learner's preferences in the four stages learning. Preference of one or more stages over others indicates a preferred learning style. The learning styles are:
fig. 2
Figure 2. Experiential learning styles
For those interested, a copy of the inventory, called the LSI - IIa, can be purchased for a few dollars from:
McBer & Company
Training Resources Group
116 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts USA 02116
(617) 437-7080


Understanding one's preferred learning style has two benefits. It helps us understand our areas of weakness, giving us the opportunity to work on becoming more proficient in the other modes or it helps us realize our strengths, which might be useful in certain social situations, such as deciding on a career.
In an ESL institution, use of the inventory has two benefits for learners. It helps them understand their learning styles, and thus "make transitions to higher levels of personal and cognitive functioning." (Knox, 1986, p. 25) It also allows teachers to cover materials in a way that best fits the diversity of the classroom. It must be added, however, that the Learning Style Inventory was never intended to be used as a tool to segregate students with different learning styles. (Rogers, 1996; Kolb, 1993)
In my opinion, the major benefit from use of the inventory lies not in its effect on learners, but rather, in its effect on educators. Regardless of what results the inventory might produce, its mere presence reemphasizes experience as an critical part of learning. Even today, most education is still essentialist, an approach that ignores learner experience. Also, as Brookfield points out, teachers tend to be so concerned with presenting information that they overlook student needs to reflect upon it. Instead, he encourages "praxis ," thereby:
"...ensuring that opportunities for the interplay between action and reflection are available in a balanced way for students. Praxis means that curricula are not studied in some kind of artificial isolation, but that ideas, skills, and insights learned in a classroom are tested and experienced in real life. Essential to praxis is the opportunity to reflect on experience, so that formal study is informed by some appreciation of reality." (Brookfield, 1990, p. 50)
The Theory of Experiential Learning can also be integrated in one's way of teaching. For example, after introducing a new grammar or difficult point, the instructor might give the students a minute or two of silence to reflect and then another minute or two to discuss. The Learning Style Inventory serves as a reminder that the internal processes of learning need just as much care as the external.

Kelly - David Kolb, The Theory of Experiential Learning and ESL (TESL/TEFL)

Friday, 11 December 2015

linguistic justice

A book came out a couple of years ago:

Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World (Oxford Political Theory): Philippe Van Parijs: 9780199208876: Books
Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World | Times Higher Education (THE)
Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World - Hardcover - Philippe Van Parijs - Oxford University Press

Linguistic Justice

Philippe Van Parijs. 31 Oct 2011
31 October 2011
Followed by a drinks reception
Residence of the Belgian Ambassador, Johan Verbeke
36 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8QB
Admission strictly for registered participants only.  Please book your place below.
van Parijs
Launching the latest book of political philosopher Philippe Van Parijs, "Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World" 

In Europe and throughout the world, English is spreading at a speed never achieved by any language in human history. This growing dominance of English is frequently perceived and sometimes indignantly denounced as being grossly unjust. 
“Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World” starts off arguing that the dissemination of a common lingua franca is a process to be welcomed, most fundamentally because it provides the struggle for greater justice in Europe and in the world with an essential weapon: a cheap medium of communication and of mobilization. However, the resulting linguistic situation can plausibly be regarded as unjust. 
Firstly, native speakers get a free ride by benefiting from the efforts of others. Secondly, they get greater opportunities as a result of English becoming a more valuable asset. Thirdly, such situation amounts to a lack of equal respect for the other languages with which people identify. 
Professor Van Parijs, one of the most original political philosophers of the day, will be discussing these and other issues, including policies that might help achieve linguistic justice and redress the distortions mentioned above, e.g. through the imposition of a linguistic tax or the banning of dubbing. Three prominent discussants will grill Professor Van Parijs, setting the stage for a debate that will no doubt be lively and thought-provoking.  

Linguistic Justice
Philippe Van Parijs - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Here is a critical response from earlier this year:
Is Linguistic Justice Translatable? On the Significance of Translation for Universal History « Telos Press

The point is that English dominates:
Philippe van Parijs in Amsterdam on Global English, mobility and linguistic justice | Multilingualism
How to do things with Anglobalisation: towards linguistic justice | ANU

One idea would be to 'tax' language:
Language tax - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Or to see it in another way:
£500m 'language tax' cost to Scots economy (From Herald Scotland)
Repeal the Language Tax!

It's about multilingualism:
Jay Doubleyou: english is not the language of the successful british exporter
Jay Doubleyou: 10 tips and tricks to pick up any language

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

the wave: lessons in manipulation

There are many ways to manipulate people:
Jay Doubleyou: propaganda, public relations and manufacturing consent
Jay Doubleyou: positive power and influence
Jay Doubleyou: behaviourism >>> and learning objectives >>> and the common european framework
Jay Doubleyou: bread and circuses

Some experiments have been conducted to show how people can be very easily manipulated:
Jay Doubleyou: jane elliott - brown eyes vs blue eyes
Jay Doubleyou: milgram experiment

This is the film of a famous experiment in the 1980s:

The Wave - YouTube
The Wave (1981 film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Third Wave was an experimental social movement created by high school history teacher Ron Jones to explain how the German populace could accept the actions of the Nazi regimeduring the Second World War.[1][2][dead link] While he taught his students about Nazi Germany during his "Contemporary World History" class, Jones found it difficult to explain how the German people could accept the actions of the Nazis, and decided to create a social movement as a demonstration of the appeal of fascism. Over the course of five days, Jones conducted a series of exercises in his classroom emphasizing discipline and community, intended to model certain characteristics of the Nazi movement. As the movement grew outside his class and began to number in the hundreds, Jones began to feel that the movement had spiraled out of control. He convinced the students to attend a rally where he claimed the announcement of a Third Wave presidential candidate would be televised. Upon their arrival, the students were presented with a blank channel. Jones told his students of the true nature of the movement as an experiment in fascism, and presented to them a short film discussing the actions of Nazi Germany.[3]

The Third Wave (experiment) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

There is some excellent lesson planning:
THE WAVE - Official Site (Die Welle & The Third Wave resource)

Monday, 7 December 2015

a critique of learning objectives

This blog has already looked at learning objectives in the context of 'behaviourism':
Jay Doubleyou: behaviourism >>> and learning objectives >>> and the common european framework

These are some of the links used in that piece:
The unhappiness principle | Times Higher Education
Project MUSE - A Radical Critique of the Learning Outcomes Assessment Movement
College Quarterly - Articles - Blooming Idiots: Educational Objectives, Learning Taxonomies and the Pedagogy of Benjamin Bloom
Benjamin Bloom - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

There are many more critiques out there;

Here are a couple in short form:

The Learning Outcome in Higher Education: 
Time to think again? 

Ian Scott University of Worcester (

As a head of an academic development and practice unit it is with some trepidation that I set out to write this critique of learning outcomes. For the learning outcome has become the bed-rock of the infra-structure that determines quality assurance processes in higher education in the UK and elsewhere. In theory, they should be used to design courses, determine appropriate learning opportunities, measure the level of courses and provide the standard against which students‟ achievement can be measured. In this article I will argue that the learning outcome is a false god, to whom too much attention is paid and probably by the wrong people. It is important to say, that I am not the first to make this case, but do so in the hope of raising a greater level of critical discourse on what has become a hegemony within higher education.

The learning outcome, purpose and origin

The learning outcome in higher education can be seen as a development from outcome based education within the vocational sector (e.g. National Vocational Qualifications a.k.a. NVQs). In the vocational sector learning outcomes based on competencies are used to underpin the assessment of job related skills. Once the notion of having to account for learning had been set in place the adoption of a system related to one already introduced into parts of the education system was relatively simple and as James (2005) notes, the learning outcome is a seductively simple concept, it seems to 'do what it says on the can' but does it?

Difficulties (or even problems) with learning outcomes

What are they again?

For a seemingly simple concept learning outcomes seem hard to really define. James and Brown (2005) produced a 3 x 7 matrix of learning outcome types based around Sfards (1998). Acquisition and Participation metaphors of learning and seven categories of outcome located by the Learning Outcomes Thematic Group of the UK wide Teaching and Learning Research Project (TLRP).

Words alone fail me and our students

To illustrate this issue I will take a relatively simple learning outcome from a hypothetical competency based carpentry course.

After the period of learning the student will be able to: bang a nail into a plank of wood without splitting the wood.

At first glance, this seems like a straightforward learning outcome, but the carpenter might well ask, “which type of wood" or "which type of nail”. So I would need to moderate the outcome so that it might become;

After the period of learning the student will be able to: bang the appropriate nail into a plank from a range of commonly used timbers without splitting the wood.

Of course, after speaking again with the carpenter, she thinks that accuracy is also important and of course safety. So, after embarking on defining the seeming obvious, I am confronted by the carpenter from the ship yard, who notes that what is a common wood for some is not common for him, how was he meant to know what I meant or what his student was meant to learn. The only defence from the carpenter's demands is to either write with more and more specificity or greater generality. The problem with the former being that increased specificity starts to exclude many practices and as Yorke (2003 p210) suggest leads to;

" the entangling and disorientating jungle of details as was experienced by those faced with the system of NVQs developed under the aegis of the National Council for Vocational Qualifications in the UK....” 

Are learning outcomes really student centred?

For teaching to be student centred the student voice should be at the heart of both what is learnt and how it is learnt. In addition there should be a shift of power towards the students and away from the tutor. But can this be achieved if the 'authority' pre determines learning outcomes and objectives and the assessment methods? The original empowering feature of the learning outcome approach is that they provide transparency of the destination and that learners should then be free to plot their own course to their arrival point. To do this students would need to be able to choose their own learning opportunities, resources and time required to achieve their learning outcomes. To do this tutors may need to appreciate that they are „side-kicks‟ in the overall learning process; something which paradoxically seems difficult to achieve in a massified system of education. The use of learning outcomes to define courses and programmes removes power from students. They do this by failing to recognise that for many students the learning outcomes that emerge are not the ones that were intended by the designer (Megginson, 1994). Given that learning is inherently relational at the individual level this is no surprise. What I learn from a learning event will be different from what you learn because we relate to it differently, because of our differing abilities, motivations and past experiences. Thus to some extent the whole notion of pre-defined learning outcomes become spurious. If this is true, then the best that learning outcomes can hope for is that they are loose notions of what it is intended a student might learn.

The way forward

It is obviously a good idea for students and tutors to have a common understanding of what they are trying to achieve and having learning outcomes seems a reasonable starting point as a means to achieve this. Learning outcomes also form a good departure point when considering how to formulate learning opportunity and develop resources. As soon, however, as we start to believe that learning can be precisely defined and articulated and that these articulations should form the basis of the design, development, definition and assessment of courses then we are divorcing ourselves from the process and outcomes of real learning

Page None of A Radical Critique of the Learning
Outcomes Assessment Movement

A Radical Critique of the Learning Outcomes Assessment Movement

Michael Bennett, Jacqueline Brady


The Learning Outcomes Assessment (LOA) movement seems rather innocuous.  Teachers and administrators at colleges and universities are asked to articulate the goals, objectives, measures, and outcomes of the educational process at every level:  from the classroom to the department to the institution as a whole.  Educators engage in this process with the help of curriculum mapping or educational matrices or a host of other tools and templates provided by any number of readily available frameworks (see the website of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment for many examples).  The information gathered is then used to evaluate curricula, programs, instructors, and institutions for purposes of internal review and external evaluation.

A Radical Critique of the Learning Outcomes Assessment Movement | Bennett | Radical Teacher
A Radical Critique of the Learning Outcomes Assessment Movement on JSTOR