Wednesday, January 29, 2014

willing suspension of certainty #rhizo14

From my vantage, there's value in Coleridge's willing suspension of disbelief when contemplating the notion of embracing uncertainty, or the willing suspension of certainty if I may.

Being open to, or embracing, uncertainty also allows for outcomes beyond initial expectations.

Providing a group of learners with a challenge or goal, and leaving them to their own devices as to how to solve the problem, or reach the desired outcome(s) may result in solutions which ultimately exceed the expectations of all involved.

Of course, this dynamic will only be possible in environments or situations in which uncertainty is fostered and, in turn, provides the for the chaotic, messy, non-linear setting necessary for a given group of learners, or community, to marshall uncertainty and arrive at solutions beyond what is possible in prescribed, scripted environments. This is easier said than done, especially in formal learning environments; however, the benefits of such an approach can be measured in learner engagement and ownership of, and responsibility for, one's learning.


SarahH said...

I love voluntary suspension of disbelief. Thanks for reminding me.

jolly roger said...

Doug, how would you go about it in extremely restrictive formal learning environments?

dougsymington said...

Thanks Sarah, and you're welcome :-)

Jolly, that's an excellent question. May not be possible in all instances, although there may be opportunities to "open things up" for sub-tasks or components of larger tasks or units. By the same token, there may not be (much) room for flexibility or creativity in very formal learning environments, be they academic or corporate,

Thanks for comments!

Heather said...

Doug- I'm also curious about the same thing Jolly has asked. I like the idea of opportunities within subtasks. I actually could see some open learning opportunities. What I have more trouble seeing is how to bring the learners along for the uncertainty. (Particularly when there's a grade. Anxiety tends to run alongside that :)
It's worth doing, just trying to envision how it would work as we all wade through #rhizo14

dougsymington said...

Point well taken Heather, and I'd add the notion of "performance anxiety" on the part of educator, facilitator, leader to the mix. Perhaps contracting the sub-tasks, providing feedback and giving credit for "playing along" would allow for frequent check-ins and reinforce a culture of discovery and exploration that (ideally) would predispose all involved to trust that uncertainty provides opportunities for truth-making that certainty does not. Easier said than done when grades and deliverables are on the line, I'll grant you, but I think there's value in embracing uncertainty to the degree those involved are able, or dare. Thanks for your comment.