Finding Ways to Doubt Myself

Over the last few years I have been shifting the way that I read content to do with education and learning.

The shift has been a subtle but very important one for me. I deliberately recognise the bias I have towards certain bundles of ideas and find ways to explore the opposing views.

Earlier this year I developed some course content for a Masters course on Innovation in Education. One of the subjects was Design Thinking and despite having many years of experience working with this process I decided to doubt everything I thought I knew about it.

Rather than rest on the laurels of my experience I actively doubted my understanding. This forced me to reconsider, question and ponder on what I might be missing and to be a learner again. It also helped me to see my own bias much more clearly.

A recent example is seeing that I have a negative bias towards furniture being organised so learners are sitting in rows in a classroom.

Tom Sherrington nudged me into this direction with his post about The Timeless Wisdom of Sitting in Rows. He points out that:

…in the majority of situations when I am likely to be teaching, explaining, instructing, questioning – or getting my students up to do it – rows work absolutely beautifully. Is this about exerting my authority, sage on the stage, being in control, telling students things, asking them things…? Yes, of course it is. That’s my responsibility. Is this a miserable, oppressive state of affairs for the poor compliant souls at my mercy? No. Not at all. They can see me; look me in the eye, communicate, engage, interact, listen, learn, think… It’s all good. Efficient and effective, yes. And human – always human.

These types of posts and reflections allow me to not just have a counter point to something I might believe, but I begin to see my own bias with more definition.

In the past I might discount such articles simply from the title but now I seek them out and actively doubt what I think I know.


Photo by Stephen Crowley on Unsplash

1 Comment

  1. This is interesting and admirable. Have you read ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Teachers’? Like you, I am now realising how very important it is to shift myself out of complacency when it comes to my ideas on education, and this book has given me so many new directions to look. I highly recommend it. One of the things I am most alarmed about is my ignorance of the debate that has been raging ‘behind the scenes’ between constructivism and the form of traditional teaching as described by Hirsch. My teacher training did nothing to make me aware of these, and I now see I’ve been caught in a constructivist / progressivist bubble that has done nothing but reinforce the same views over and over again. I take my hat off to you on your new adventure and look forward to your sharing of the insights it affords.

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