Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Party management

I have to note this down immediately.

It is an important leap for me.

I am fascinated by story.

I was toying with complexity thanks to an improbable connection made as the result of remarking a Facebook conversation.

I wrote a post asking about the compatibility of story to complexity.

I had never heard of the term: 'Homo Narrans'.

I concluded my post a few hours ago with 'we are story.'

Homo Narrans...indeed.

I reflected on the patterns which emerged from my post.

I went and Googled complexity and narrative.

I fell upon a couple of videos by Dave Snowden (a person unknown to me).

I watched a first one. I watched it a second time. I shared it with friends of my network.

Terry Elliott immediately set up a Vialogue with the first video.

I will return once again to annotate.

There was a metaphor which immediately resonated.

Dave Snowden talks of different approaches to party management - for party management think classroom management, think education.

A complex systems approach to education therefore entails determining boundaries to what is acceptable and making sure that these boundaries are flexible and open to negotiation with the learners.

'Catalytic probes' are introduced, in the kids' party example -  'a video', 'a barbecue', 'a computer game', in the hope that a pattern of play (learning) will form.

If the kids group around the 'video game' it is what might be called 'an attractor' and if this 'attractor' is beneficial to the 'party' (think education,think language learning) we amplify it and if it is a 'negative attractor we dampen it.'

'We manage the emergence of beneficial coherence within attractors, within boundaries.

As an educator we manage what can be managed (not learning), we manage 'for emergence' (of learning).

This all suddenly rang bells with discussions around rhizomatic learning.

This all suddenly rang bells with discussions that I had been having with my colleague this week.

Over a number of years, we have been defining potential attractors, people, communities, activities inside or outside of the classroom, online or offline, negotiating boundaries with learners and colleagues, amplifying the beneficial activities, dampening the 'negative ones'.

We are constantly working in the present to adapt what we are doing.

'Managing the evolutionary present'.
Dave Snowden

We are in constant beta.

I never had this technical language before.

Along the way, we have been benefiting from the stories emerging from the participants.

We are constantly trying to rewrite our own narratives faced with complexity.

Dave Snowden's next points about research methodology - distributed ethnography will require weeks of study.

I then watched a second video of his entitled 'How not to manage complexity.'

Such an important conference!

I have much reading and listening to do.

I made a link with conversations that I had had with Bruno Winck about knowledge managment.

On reading around, I fell upon the Cynefin Framework, a diagram that I had seen before, noted, but never searched the source.

It was a framework that Viplav Baxi had talked about in a conversation that I had noted partially a few hours before...

I have a fair amount of learning to do...


  1. Thanks for the link to these videos. I've been slowly watching the first one, making notes, and enjoying the simple ways Snowden is giving me more language to discuss learning. I've written how I was evolving a flexible learning environment with the students and frustrated with "system" demands. The ecological lens of the rhizome helped to describe the learning I was seeing. Snowden gives me a much clearer vision of what I've experienced. And so the rhizome grows...

  2. Wow, your thinking process (coupled with what led to it via the videos) is rich. Thanks for sharing all this!