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I think that sometimes I’m very defensive in my reasoning, and I think this is a kind of scale; one can learn to do this less and one can do it more – it’s not a black and white I’m-a-defensive-reasoner-or-I’m-not type situation. When I didn’t get that internship I applied for, I blame it on the fact that no one else in my specialisation was chosen, so it must’ve been the company rather than me or any fault with e.g. my CV. When I don’t get that A+ grade, I look to the lecturer’s style or “unfair” scaling.  When something is connected wrong in a circuit project, I ask who did that? Rather than how could I have made sure that that didn’t happen? I’m quick to blame others, but I don’t believe that I blame others or myself for concrete decisions completely wrongly (blame can be partial) – an incorrect circuit design could have been my fault, and I was apologising for that to my team a few weeks ago. But I don’t pro-actively question how I could have contributed to something that was largely under another person’s control. (Or are both of these points my “espoused theory” rather than my “theory-in-use”? A rather confusing point). Argyris (1991) uses the example in that the manager hypothesises ways that he may have contributed in the professionals covering up their complaints – something that I would not have seen.

Argyris (1991) proposes that the cause of this defensive reasoning is a form of protection from a “fear of failure”, or even fearing the “fear of failure itself”. Academically, I have succeeded in most of my pursuits. This is largely because I don’t like the feeling of failure. This must be the root of the problem. So how does Argyris (1991) propose I “fix” this thus becoming a “productive reasoner”? He determines that a critical examination of my theory-in-use and its counterproductive consequences will do this. But if the fear itself is the problem, I’m uncertain as to what he thinks happens to this fear – does it recede? Do I eventually come to acknowledge that the feelings of blame, guilt and embarrassment are for the best, and thus diminish? That requires strength, and a determined belief in the productive effects.

Is this something that I’m going to commit to? Or is it just another reading? I guess if it’s just another reading, I haven’t really learnt anything at all. But I don’t believe that I can just read something and then expect myself to have improved from it; it is a conscious which must be continuously applied. I think I will commit to this now; not a light decision but also a moral decision because it means taking on individual responsibility and becoming a person closer to my ideals.

What would this look like?

It would look like energies directed to cross-examination of my decisions and the results of them. When I go for that “assessment centre” next week, if I don’t feel I do well – don’t blame the environment, or the assessors, or the other intimidating people there. Could I have prepared better? Could I have researched more or practiced my answers? If my team doesn’t do well this rollover, was it because I didn’t allocate resources (as CFO) efficiently to each department? Did I not communicate effectively?

And if these things are true, change will happen as long as I keep the “bigger picture” view and feel (eventually), instead of fear, strength that comes from knowing growth is happening.

 

Reference:

Argyris, C. (1991). Teaching smart people how to learn. Reflections, 4(2), 4--15

 

2 Comments

  1. I think my journal reaches quite high levels of thinking in regards to Bloom's Taxonomy; I have self-examined my own actions/behaviour and committed to making me better.

    Regarding Daudelin's structure, I think I follow it loosely; it is easy to see problem definition (how to fix my defensive reasoning?), however proposed solutions are only covered lightly, I only seem to consider one solution (believing that embracing the fear is for "the greater good" and altering actions around that). I do think that it's one thing to write that this commitment has been done in this journal, while it is completely another thing to action it out - what's holding you accountable? What's making sure you constantly carry out cross-examination of your reasoning and blame-giving?

    Will be interesting to see how this carries out in the upcoming weeks.

  2. Hi Sarah,

    I enjoyed reading your reflection as I felt (as you pointed out above) that there was a lot of assessing and questioning around the reasons that some things did or didn't happen. But more importantly that there was a level of honesty that was easy to relate to (in regards to the fact that you feel sometimes failure isn't in your control) and that sometimes, you tend to blame others instead of helping the problem ( Rather than how could I have made sure that that didn’t happen?). In respects to that, I feel that you have grasped the weeks reading well, and as a student that is very strong academically as you stated, it is evident in this journal that you have gained some perspectives on how to be a 'productive reasoner' by using Daudelin's framework. Like you stated above as well, the challenge now is to be honest with your self and how you approach failures personally or within a team environment but by your journal, I have no doubt that you will work on this whole heartedly. Great work!