Tag Archives: David A. Kolb

Sitting On a Porch, but not any porch

david kolb

Dave Kolb and I enjoyed the longest conversation we ever managed to conduct over the fifteen years we’ve been friends and something like, but not really exactly like, colleagues. Our shared interest is the experiential learning theory* he helped conceptualize in the late seventies. He is its principal conceptualizer over the past thirty-three years, a span that began with the publication of the cornerstone presentation of this theory, Experiential Learning, Experience As the Source of Learning and Development(revised 2015).

When Dave signed the copy of the revised edition he gave me, he named us fellow travelers. I like it. Our paths have crossed in conferences and symposia, in workshops and, especially on the softball field on Sundays in Cleveland Heights, at 10am. I encountered Dave and Alice Kolb, his wife and most essential collaborator, back in 2002 when I ventured out to thie softball field for the first time, believing at the time that I was going to assist a documentary filmmaker who wanted to make a short about the Free Play Softball League the Kolbs started as an experiment in open system and experiential learning on the old Adelbert quad.

Yet, the three hour dialog we built together this week was the longest sustained chewing session we ever attempted or accomplished. This moment was favored by dave and Alice being between book writing projects, or, otherwise freed from the usual bearing down of their research agenda. I know this from their presentation at the June conference, a presentation offloaded into a nicely organic collaborative discussion about several of their current interests.

In our dialog, after we covered sundry subjects of interest to aging men and softball teammates, we latched onto one of several subjects that interest me as an independent scholar an fellow traveler. As it turned out, this subject, where is the ongoing theory-making in experiential learning theory happening right now, had come up between Dave and Alice on their morning walk the day Dave and I settled into our chairs on his spacious front porch. After we noted that there aren’t many scholars besides the Kolbs that you can point to, we started to ideate together on shaping (just the beginning) of what the extension and further elaboration of experiential learning theory might grapple with.

This is a big subject. We touched on examples from our different interests that bend the theory-in-use a bit differently than the most secure current conception of the theory supposes is phenomenally the case. This is not a disruptive tangent to the theory because one of the enhancements of the theory would, were it to begin to be formulated, configure the theory to flex more to particular contexts. For example, my creative process does not align with the cyclical or spiral process of the current theory, rather it oscillates between concrete experience and (what I would term,) spontaneous revision, a quality of active experimentation.

We made our beginning in any case. It would be really fascinating to continue and especially to put the handful of inspired (by theory!) persons in our community or out there in the wild together, to do some chewing.

Nowadays, almost all the action in ELT is rooted to its use in consulting, pedagogical, and coaching practices. This usefulness has put evaluative and assessment tools close to the center of those activities. The biggest impact extensive new theory-making could have on current day practice would result from theorizing context-dependent, and therefor distinct differentiations according to context pressures, of the theory-in-practice. This could be given by, for example, idiographic or qualitative difference-making that is focused on particular situations and their particularities. Certainly, from the several ways I may contextualize my own practice as an experiential learning endeavor, I’m able to lightly suggest that enactive, or social cybernetic, or, negative-capable, or, neurophenomenological, or ecological, perspectives, each create different and cogent and positive pressures when these outlooks are used to describe particularities given in specific situations.

Dave and I have noted that the enactive perspective is very sharply appropriate to elaborating a bit more about the instantaneous presence involved in reacting in an embodied and learning ‘full’ way in response to being thrown a pitched ball while acting as a batter.

KOLBELTSIMPLECYCLETHEORY
The triangle at the bottom of the ELT schema reflects a kind of liminal or boundary condition for holding theorization away from its being made practical. Theorizing is begun as an impractical matter.

*Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory is a theory of learning, not a theory of learning-by-doing. It would pose itself as a meta-theory of learning-by-doing were learning-by-doing ever to be rigorously theorized.

(h/t to Mai P. Trinh for first entertaining my sense that ‘where are the theorists?’ was an interesting question.)

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Co-Incidence? experiential learning Cycle and Adventist Theology

Kairos devo

As I understand it, the most simple definition of a contemporary Kairos moment is: the moment at which the inborn Christological consciousness is instantiated as an active essential commission.

In adventist theology, the two perfect instances of Kairos were the birth of Christ, and, his resurrection.

graph-of-time

(See: Myth, Faith, and History in the New Testament
Author(s): Paul L. Hammer
Journal of Bible and Religion, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Apr., 1961), pp. 113-118)

Kolb-Model

Meanwhile, it is notable that my colleague David A. Kolb’s constuctivist-cognitivist learning cycle echoes the schema of the Kairos moment.

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Two Style Self-Reports

Archetype-Axes-3

Print out this post to utilize the two assessment forms.

Archetype Axis
Reflect on the make-up of your personality and assign 15 total points to select archetypal aspects. The scale of the point system is graded this way:
4 points – most dominant expression of particular archetypal element
3 points – next most dominant expression
2 points – strong expression
1 point – mild expression

Use the following distribution protocol:

Assign 4 points once
Assign 3 points once
Assign 2 points at least once
Assign 1 point

Use no more than 15 total points.

KOLB-9-STYLES

Kolb Learning Style ‘array’
Reflect on the make-up of your personality and assign 15 total points to select archetypal aspects. The scale of the point system is graded this way:
4 points – most dominant expression of particular learning disposition element
3 points – next most dominant expression
2 points – strong expression
1 point – mild expression

Use the following distribution protocol:

Assign 4 points once
Assign 3 points once
Assign 2 points at least once
Assign 1 point

Use no more than 12 total points.

Example (my own)

Archetype-Kolb-self-evaluation

note-I am misusing the Kolb Style array. However, my redeployment of it as a device for self-evaluation does provide me the means to better assert stylistic disposition in relationship to actual concrete learning contexts. The example here is generalized but takes into account–in a phenomenological sense–my real time introspective intuition on the nature of my own learning process. This is a more accurate process of evaluation than the formal instrument allows for.

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Two New Learning Cycles

3rd-Order-Unity-Schema

Recently I’ve been musing about how the learning cycle of David A. Kolb could be partially re-theorized in my novel social cybernetic terms.

Social Cybernetics: the system supposed by the engagement of enactive self-aware persons in relationship with one another, and, the system enabled for the purpose of making sense of the how and the what and the why–in this order–of intersubjective and intrasubjective knowledge creation, knowledge creation in turn in service to mutual construal and co-construal.

There are four sub-schemas depicted in the pretty pictures.

Discuss.

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Discovering Novel Approaches

squareone learning

Learning Intention: Suggest ways of contemplating the problem I have with a person who just will not walk their talk.

comment:

First, a Cube-O-Probe casting from the newest Cube Sets, Archetypal #3, Archetypal #4, and Experiential learning #3.

Second, this learning intention isn’t directly my own, I’ve borrowed another person’s challenge and used his challenge to fashion a worthwhile intention. Note the intention precedes the casting of the Cube-O-Probe. It addresses a common enough problem.

Third, Because I’m expert at formulating learning intentions in the context of prospecting for transformative learning, this nicely shaped intention displays the several facets of a well-shaped intention to learn. It doesn’t ask for a solution, it asks for suggestions. It aims at deploying helpful ideas for the sake of exploring better ideas.

Fourth, The pole opposite TRANSITIONAL is HEROIC. (The given opposite of a pairing rendered by a cube is the pole of the pair that cannot be shown at the same time as its opposite. It is on the other side of the cube!)

Alterity is a philosophical and anthropological term meaning “otherness”, strictly being in the sense of the other of two (Latin alter). It is also increasingly being used in media to express something other than the sameness of the imitative, numbing conformity often found in today’s mass media. (…fairly good snap definition, via Wikipedia)

In philosophy, the phenomenological tradition it is usually understood as the entity in contrast to which an identity is constructed, and it implies the ability to distinguish between self and not-self, and consequently to assume the existence of an alternative viewpoint.

serenity-prayer-051

 

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Overt Pairs of the Experiential Learning Cycle of David Kolb


Tuesday’s presentation went smoothly. The discussion was lively. I was especially gratified that two of my closest friends from outside the experiential learning community showed up.

In preparing the presentation, I learned a bunch going back through Kolb’s writing about his theory, and then careening down a number of intellectual side streets, most of which concerned philosophizing about dialectics and polarities.

Also, I read some terrific scholarly work by Peter Ochs about C.S.Peirce.

CycleoftheCycle

During the presentation I introduced a very deep tool. The tool, The Cycle of David Kolb’s Cycle is both an experimental learning device and, by far, the most Batesonian and ‘biosemiotical’ tool I’ve, so far, conjured.

SquareONE experiential toolmakers

Going forward, the trick will be to successfully promote people trying the tool out. Many people just cannot get outside of their box/trance to try something wild, deconstructive and based in getting inside: symbols and a ‘semios.’

This tool is especially random and sharply aimed to whack through instrumentalities. It aims to liberate more soulful abductions with respect to learning.

If you want to try it out, email me: sc.calhoun at gmail.com

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Surprisingly: Hectic <--> Galumphing (Polarity)

Athena&Kolb

Athena, owl, spear, shield with learning cycle of David A. Kolb

Please join me for my presentation tomorrow at 3:45pm EST. I’ve made some changes in the original description.

Ha! I invented a new experiential learning tool, The Cycle of David A. Kolb’s Cycle. I originally figured I would give it a spin with colleagues and other interested persons at the same time I held down the presenter’s spot in the quarterly meeting of The Experiential Learning Community of Practice. This experiment was placed in the original description.

But, then I recalled I am an ENFP, and a Reflective Learner in Kolbian terms, and, I was able to withdraw the projection that suggested I could turn the self-selecting participants into ad hoc experimental subjects.

Not so fast, buster!

I’ve nevertheless opted for an energetic presentation, yet, I dialed the interactive aspect down so close to the null value that all that will be retained, interactively speaking, will be the discussion in the second half.

(Below are links to pdfs of the slides and the tool itself. These will be public for 72 hours.)

Generating Paradox. Overt and Covert Polarities in David A. Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle

Given the theoretical-conceptual architecture of Kolb’s Learning Cycle, fascinating yet obscured conceptual relations subsist within the dynamic move from the organismic systematic theory to its application as a theory-in-use/applied model.

This experiential presentation teases out some of those relations by leveraging both the explicit dialectical relations in the normative model, and co-existing, emergent, yet hidden polar relations discoverable elsewhere near bye.

In this peeling away of layers of the conceptual ‘onion,’ two gains are anticipated: one, the active learner will experience reasons for de-reifying applied aspects of learning style, and, two, the learner may be inspired to expand his or her own experiential learning model’s practical reach.

Expect 45 minutes of presentation and 45 minutes of discussion and comments and questions.

Download Links PDF via box.com:

Slides

for future use:
The Cycle of the Kolb Cycle Tool 

This presentation is designed to be experiential. Participants may maximize the experience by taking notes of what is compelling.

Connect via Adobe Connect Meeting: (please use phone for audio)

Meeting Name: EL CoP Meeting
Summary:
When: 03/12/2015 3:45 PM – 5:30 PM
Time Zone: (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Conference Number(s): 605 475 6006
Participant Code: 142480
To join the meeting:
https://meet54507615.adobeconnect.com/r5pn1fptqz4/

You will need: Adobe Connect Add-On, Direct Download:
https://www.adobe.com/support/connect/downloads-updates.html

Adobe provides a client for iPad on the Apple App Store.

If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before:
Test your connection: https://meet54507615.adobcom/common/help/en/support/meeting_test.htmeconnect.
Get a quick overview: http://www.adobe.com/products/adobeconnect.html

Adobe, the Adobe logo, Acrobat and Adobe Connect are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

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Something Like a Scout

Calhoun-Educator-Role-Profile

I finally took the Kolb Educator Role Profile.

This result, schematically presented above, is fuzzily right inasmuch as the  KERP is able to capture some of the qualities of me–who in the normative sense of the term educator is not an educator–yet, is an educator-of-a-sort. What kind of sort?

This raises the question of how to get at the term for my sort. Perhaps, it’s best to ask the subjects of  whatever it is that qualifies and names what I do. I do aid experience-based transformative learning. Yet, there isn’t a clear educator’s role in what I do, except, the learning relationship is certainly educative.

Here’s my Kolb LSi 4.0 “kite.” (My own sense is that it presents–something like–my genre of experiential learning style because as a visual and musical experimenter the kites which would correspond to those contexts would look radically different.)

Calhoun-LSI-kite

In my one-on-one learning collaborations, I’m an intuitive, experienced re-worker.

Mindfulness exploits the fact that two key points of leverage in managing the unexpected are expectations and categories. People who persistently rework their categories and refine them, differentiate them, update them, and replace them notice more and catch unexpected events earlier in their development. That is the essence of mindfulness. – Karl Weick

Where is mindfulness located in the Experiential Learning Cycle of David A. Kolb?

Kolb-Model

David A. Kolb’s experiential learning cycle helps me channel my introspective sense of my role:

feelandwatchwatchingandthinkandwatchandfeelandwatchandthinkanddo

In the literature and movies of the American Frontier the scout is usually depicted as a roughly clad eccentric who leaves the safety of the settlement and reappears unpredictably, bringing a mixture of firsthand reports, rumors, and warnings about the wilderness ahead—together with a tantalizing collection of plant specimens, animal skins, and rock samples, not all of which are fool’s gold. At first the settlers find the scout’s help indispensable; but once their community begins to consolidate he becomes a figure of fun; and finally, after respectability has set in, he is a positive embarrassment. Yet their premature respectability is vulnerable. When the settlement is struck by drought, the scout’s nature lore leads the settlers to hidden springs of underground water, but once the crisis is past, respectability reemerges, and the scout is ridden out to the town line.Within the world of the American behavioral sciences, Gregory Bateson has always had the scout’s ambiguous status.

The Charm of the Scout Philosopher of science Stephen Toulmin reviewing Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity (Gregory Bateson) in The New York Review of Books, 1980 – also included in Rigor & Imagination: Essays from the Legacy of Gregory Bateson

It occurs to me my clearest educator’s role is instantiated as the central aspect of my self-education. Ironically, the KERP captures my autodidactic approach.

(I dislike the term coach.) I’m a bit of a guide and a scout. I told Ken, “I’m sort of a Virgil-like figure.”

Sort of a hybrid?

virgil-dante

 

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Minding the Mind

My favorite (Gregory) Batesonian teaching story, reconfigured and originally via Idries Shah.

A frenchman is teaching another french rudimentary english.

“So, the word for froid crème glacée is ‘cold ice cream.’ “

“What’s the word for chaude crème glacée?”

“Oh, they have no need for it, so there’s no word for it.”

Although I have an acute memory, I can’t recall which friend of mine did me the favor of bringing the work of Gregory Bateson to my attention. It was a long time ago. (Maybe it was Chris Irion? Pilcher?) I dug into Bateson’s Mind and Nature thirty years ago, when it was published. In another sense, it only matters as a fuzzy starting point. It was definitely in 1996 that I returned to his opus in a re-doubled effort to make some further connections. This was due to meeting my mentor and squareONE partner Judith Buerkel in 1995. During this first meeting it turned out Bateson was our mutual touchstone. Bingo!

It was only then, after a more mature effort to really deal-in, that Bateson’s understanding came to deeply inform my outlook, and to comprise a large facet in my favorite lens. The interesting nexus for this was a weird insight evoked by my trying to make coherent the weaving together of three things, the Sufi teaching story, my new (at the time) fascination with others’ theorizing about experiential learning (this via Mezirow and Kolb,) and, my revisiting Bateson (via his last book, Where Angels Fear. Toward An Epistemology of the Sacred.) About this last visitation, the bookmark stuck a third of the way through the book–when I picked it up again–marked where I had left off nine years earlier.

Judith basically told me to woodshed! Ultimately, we grappled with how to underpin our applications–what was to become the tool kit for squareONE. We spend a lot of time discussing the practical import for our work of our different Batesonian outlooks. We both thought Bateson was an adept designer; (although this is a novel sense about Bateson, who overtly was an anthropologist, psychologist, philosopher, and naturalist.)

Anyway, my insight at the time, excitedly delivered at our weekly meeting at Arabica, was this: it was apparent to me that something like Batesonian metalogues were embedded, even secreted in the structural folds of many Middle Eastern teaching stories. Judith responded: “They’re folded in everything.”

I’ve been revisiting Bateson once again over the last month. This, however, comes long after I added my experience and understanding of his understanding, (well, some of it,) to be, basically, the fundamental facet of my favored lens. By which I mean: some synergy of dynamic ideas-in-interplay make up the essential background frame for my intentional observations. Funny how lens and frame come together!

I use a ‘reduced set’ roughly taken from Bateson. Perhaps it would better to say appropriated from Bateson. I’m not a Batesonian because I’m eclectic, disorganized, not masterly, and, an ol’ hippie. Yet, in another sense, I often turn the world around to experience its different sides using my idiosyncratic (sort of) Batesonian lens.

If I assert that I’m dedicated to being a student of my environment, then in the background of this claim is this lens. You should know this to know where I’m coming from. I’ll have more to say about this soon.

I’ve recently had reason to woodshed some more and revisit the work of Gregory Bateson. I was invited to participate in a seminar at the local grad school. Stephen Nachmanovitch, author of the terrific book Free Play, musician, and student, friend, colleague of Gregory Bateson, is to give a lecture on something to do with experiential learning and play.

Getting back to one of my main people has been fantastic. The Explorations Blog is going to go on a Bateson trip for a spell. Stay tuned. I’ll wrap with a review of resources I’ve discovered out in the shed.

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FIELD OF FRAMES

Sometime in the spring of 2001 my colleague and professional partner Judith hipped me to an interesting project. She knew a filmmaker who was hoping to commence a project about sports and experiential learning. ‘Would I be interested in talking over the experiential learning aspects with the filmmaker?’

Sure. And so Judith waved her finger across Starbucks and a lithe red haired woman approached our table and pitched her project. She told of a Sunday pick-up softball game played on a local diamond. This game has been going on for 15 years; anybody who showed up and wanted to play could join in; it’s duration was set by a noon ending irrespective of what inning it was.

I asked Laine, the filmmaker, what she thought the experiential learning hook was for her film. She told me some more intriguing things about the game. It attracted regular players from all over and, yet, most players didn’t know each other’s last names or what people did for a living. She described really good players who didn’t mind playing with the most green and inexperienced players. Although a score was tallied, she mentioned that a lot of times many of the players didn’t know the score.

“It’s not very competitive, even if there are some intense competitors.” She told me.

I certainly was intrigued. Laine suggested I check out the game myself. After all, ‘anybody can play, no matter how bad they are!’ (I must have chuckled to myself, knowing that somewhere at home lay a thirty-plus year old Wilson outfielder’s glove.)

“Laine, how did the game come about?” Then she blew my mind with her answer.

click for large version

“A professor at Weatherhead started the game up, first on campus and then it moved to Forest Hills. His name is David Kolb.”

“The David Kolb?!”

(Yes. David A. Kolb, author of Experiential Learning. Experience As the Source of Learning and Development. How important is this book to me? It would suffice to state that Dr. Kolb’s essential work then (1984) and to this day provides a cornerstone for my understanding of our field. His contribution is, for me, equal to the other cornerstones provided by the contributions of William James, Gregory Bateson, and Jack Mezirow.)

Yup, Kolb is one of my main guys, and Laine’s invitation to check out Kolb’s pick-up softball game pleasantly shocked me. As Judith said later, ‘I just wanted to see the look on your face!’

So it went. The film never got made or even started, yet I’ve played almost every Sunday since that fateful day at Starbucks. I’ve done so in accordance with one of the game’s ‘meta’ protocols: the seasons begins on the first Sunday after tax day and the season ends sometime in November when the weather suppresses the turnout below the minimum needed to play. Ha! We’ve been known to play with a minimum of six players.
Team late 2008
That first season I planted myself in my old position, left field, and have stayed planted for seven seasons. I take the immense enjoyment I get for granted, except Dave’s wife Alice and he have collaborated on a research paper about the game and its learning ecology. Thus, last season I was invited to be interviewed–as were all the players–as part of their research. I went further, did some research of my own kind, and supplied ethnographic notes. Once I began to reflect and think about the game, about its rituals and routines, and about the way it binds participants to a shared construction of its distinctive ‘lifeworld,’ what had been taken–by me–for granted morphed into a much more fine grained regard of the complex social and developmental system that undergirded the game’s survival cum vitality for over twenty years.

The paper, Learning to play, playing to learn, A case study of a ludic playing space, (Kolb & Kolb, Journal of Organizational Change Management; 2008) incorporates and cites some excerpts from my notes. Cool beans! It’s an excellent work of qualitative and phenomenological research. The Kolbs delineate a clear case using complex evidence in support of an (also) complex hypothesis. Basically, the informality of the softball game nevertheless supports complex processes, some formal, some tacit, that in turn support learning in, as the Kolbs write, intellectual, physical, spiritual, and moral realms. Given how embedded I am as participant/observer in the very praxis the paper investigates, it’s no complaint for me to note that this game-as-exemplar could infuse a more lengthy treatment–even make for a good film!
too cold to play
I’m holding the camera, and Dave, Tom, and Jim are on their way out of the park on November 9th, evidently the last day of this year’s season, and the first day since last year’s last day when not enough people showed up to be able to field two teams.

Just like it was with left field, when Dave delegated me to make out the line-ups every Sunday, calling me from then on ‘the handicapper’, I planted myself in the role. Earlier this year, Tom, a longtime player and our oldest player (70 years young,) said to me, “How come you always put Kolb on your team?”

Well, it’s like slotting yourself in to be Chuck Yeager’s co-pilot!

***

(Sometime soon, I’ll have comments on another recent publication by Alice and David Kolb, The Learning Way. Meta-cognitive Aspects of Experiential Learning; <pdf> Oct.2008; Simulation Gaming)

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