Juggling the four balls in my studying practice

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(Activity 2.25)

How do each of the juggling balls manifest in an aspect or activity in my life?

I am going to consider this in relation to my practice as a student engaged in studying/learning – because I am doing it now so it should be relatively easy to reflect on (famous last words…)

Juggling of the B ball – Being

This is about me as a student with a particular tradition of understanding.  In relation to studying, my understanding of what knowledge is and how best to acquire it (epistemological stance) is particularly relevant. I have noticed a shift in my stance from ‘fact assimiliation’ (explicit knowledge) to a more active ‘doing’ – i.e. needing to practice to learn (knowing and praxis).

This is a new way of Being for me as a student so I am having to pay a lot of attention to it.

I know the B ball is also about the ethical aspects of responsibility – I am not sure how that fits in to studying yet – though I can see a need for each of the students on a distant learning course to take responsibility for how we relate to each other in the course forum.

Juggling of the E ball – Engaging

This is about how I choose to Engage with the situation.  I have already alluded to that a little above.

I have chosen to see the course materials as a ‘guide’ to help me explore and develop my confidence in systems practice.

I could have chosen to see the course as a way of getting 30 credit points or as a way of gaining more factual understanding of Systems – these choices would have led to a different way of engaging.

Juggling of the C ball – Contextualising

I have studied OU courses before.  I know how to read materials, get TMAs in and so on.  That is the overall approach but I need to contextualise it to this course – and the way I have chosen to engage with it.

Because the course has a structure – three sequential parts with written materials that have a start, middle and end – it is a systematic approach to personal development.

But I am experiencing my approach as iterative, investigative, thoughtful and pro-active.

I take more time than previously to completing activities in the study guide – previously activities got in the way of finding out what the experts said!  Don’t get me wrong I did consider things before, but it was quite vague and generally in my head – I did not give time to make my own understandings explicit in words or diagrams, so I never really got to know about what I thought about things.

I notice I am re-iterating backwards and forwards a lot – for example through re-reading and re-considering posts in this blog.

I have given myself permission to pursue ‘tangents’ more – allowing thoughts to take me off away from the course materials.  In particular, I have reached back into materials from previous courses and more explicitly than ever before used those courses as the background for what I am learning now.  In doing so, I am also gaining new understandings of those original concepts. (Sometimes it feels like a nightmare revision session because I have materials from 3 or 4 different modules spread around me!)

Juggling of the M ball – Managing

In writing the above, I can see how interrelated the balls are – how important it is to keep them all in alignment so they feel complementary and create synergy.  And because I am not familiar with this way of studying/learning, how easy it is for me to slip back into the regular and familiar ‘groove’, especially if I am under time pressure or feeling tired.

The M ball is important to keep them all going and to keep me in check.

As a side-line, this final reflection on the M ball takes me into my work context.  The social technologies – or approaches – I am ‘expected’ to use there are so distant from my Being and Engaging, that it seems impossible to Contextualise.  I guess it is like being forced to juggle three balls and a hedgehog instead of four balls – it gets difficult and prickly.

(no animals were harmed in the production of this anology 😉 )

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