Monday, October 18, 2010

Self-reflection as a form of learning.

I think I am stuck…I just read The Seasons of a Woman Life, by Daniel J. Levinson, and I realized I am stuck.  When looking at my life, I am feeling that perhaps I didn’t do so hot in the “culminating life structure for early adulthood stage.”  This is a time when I was supposed to be “forming a structure with in which I can establish a more secure place for myself in society” (26).  Well, during this time I got married, quit a job, got a divorce, changed careers, moved to Japan, moved back, changed careers again.  Does that sound particularly secure or stable? 

So how does this impact me as a learner?  I think the first step of any learning is realizing you don’t know something.  “Know not know,” is the phrase I have heard in the past.  And this is a painful stage.  It’s the one that comes after the “ignorance is bliss” stage.  Oh, for the bliss of being un-diagnosised. 

I did some additional self-diagnosis in examining the generational differences.  For me, it was a bit like horoscopes.  Take the label off and you can get that feeling of “that’s me” from each of these descriptions.  I did take a test once that measured how much you have in common with Gen Y (millennials).  I actually got a 91%!  So I am always interested in the descriptions of the other groups.  I do feel I have the least in common with Gen X, even though I am on the cusp. 

It has been difficult for me to pin down my learning style definitively.  I do like to experience some things, I like to attend lectures by really good speakers, I like to take notes and create visuals of concepts.  So what does that make me? 

So in conclusion, and so forth, and I would have to say (to quote a pageant contestant) I want to have learning experiences that stimulate and help me evolve.  I definitely have some internal motivation, an important part of being an adult learner.  But for now, I am going to have the rest of my latte and ponder how if I have really entered a developmental crisis phase, or read my New Yorker.  Self-reflection, this is a form of learning, too, isn’t it?

Source: Levinson, Daniel J. 1996. The seasons of a woman’s life.Knopf. New York.


Allison Friederichs said...

I would bet dollars to donuts (even though I have never understood that expression) that more people empathize with you than you think. I think many of us read these descriptions of who and where we're supposed to be with a little bit of "Hmmm..." and "Oh, well, I haven't done that yet."

I like the articles we read this week because I think they provide an important look inside the "typical" life stages through which people tend to move. However, the word "stage" is always and already PREscriptive, as opposed to being DEscriptive. This means any stage model prescribes what people should do rather than describe what they actually do. So, how adequately do they reflect any one person's reality? For some, very much. For others, not so much. So, although I appreciate the insight that you might fall within what the authors call a "developmental crisis," I would offer the suggestion not to get caught up in the prescriptive language.

You show great insight when you ask "How does this impact me as a learner?" One of the things I have tried to get you all to think about in this class is the notion that understanding how you learn impacts how you teach. And this is a critical piece in that regard. What ontological assumptions do we bring with us as facilitators completely subconsciously simply by being our age? Or members of a particular generation? We'll talk more about this tomorrow night.

Are you familiar with the levels of competence? There's Unconscious Incompetence (what you humorously referred to as "ignorant bliss"), which is where you don't even know what you don't know. Then there's Conscious Incompetence, where you begin to know just how much you don't know. But never fear, because next comes Unconscious Competence, which is where you start to realize, "Hey, wait. I know some stuff! I am putting these concepts into practice." And finally, there's Conscious Competence, where you know what you know and how to use it (no one is there all the time). So you'll move to that 3rd and even 4th level by engaging in exactly this type of self-reflection. Good work!

Anonymous said...


Like Allison referred to: I can relate! It's comforting to know that I'm not the only one that found the reading a bit disorienting when it comes to figuring out where you fit in the spectrum. Thanks for sharing.


Jules said...

Hi Marianne,

I really liked how you integrated the reading back to your learning style. It was nice to see how you put it all together.

I can't say that any one description fit me either...definitely confusing when people expect you to act one way, but you don't feel you embody what people are expecting. I think our own experiences are what make us all unique and allow us to bring something differnt to the table.

See you in class tomorrow!

Cameron said...

I would argue that you are more representative of the norm than the ideal or suggested “norm.” Maybe its cause I work with so many abnormal people (including all my counseling buddies, who are ALWAYS a bit odd). I might even go SO FAR as to argue that you are more of an ideal to a person like me, which may reflect the influence culture has had on my generation and my disposition to "go against the grain" in situations. I wonder how much of an influence the last 10 years has had on all the generations(3D TV, Texting, I-phone, broadband internet) that wasn’t so prevalent during their research. As I said in my post with Joanna, my guess is that you and others like you seem to feel physical decline, but have kept the mind in excellent shape, so you FEEL young. The fact that you are pondering over a latte probably sets you apart from a huge chunk of people around the same age in itself! I think that is quite cool and again, it may represent some of the values associated with a younger generation, but I don’t really care.... I still think its cool when people take time to think and wonder about things!!! There is some benefit to stage models though. As hesitant as I am to jump on board with them, they can be ridiculously helpful in predicting human behavior (which learning seems to be), so I like them, but agree that the execption to the rule may be a better norm than the actual norm, which makes it not a norm at all huh?