“To be highly competent in practice, any practice, requires that the learning be embodied – incorporated in the body itself […] This is clear if we watch an Olympic hurdler […] or performer or a very good teacher […] Every learning involves an alteration of the learner’s body to perform the newly learned actions. This takes time, many, many repetitions of the action each one becoming smoother and smoother as the elements of the action are coordinated as one continuous and elegant action. […] The same is true of activities we do in other ways. To be effective in performing mental arithmetic, the person has to do that over and over again, that is practise. Thus, to be effective, one must practise whatever the activity, and the practise “embodies” the action.”
Ison, R. (2010) Systems Practice: How to act in a climate change world, The Open University/Springer, Milton Keynes/London (pp 102-103)
I’ve been studying for a long-time…
Obviously there was school, then a red brick university but then in 1995, I ventured into the Open University. I started off with a Postgraduate Certificate in Management, then the Diploma and then the MBA. It was all stops and starts – studying in the winters and having summers off. But when I went through the degree ceremony, I realised it was not really over – the main thing I had learned was that you never stop learning.
I continued my ‘formal studies’ on the Open University’s Postgraduate Systems Practice programme and gained a Distinction for my MSc Systems Thinking in Practice – one of the first cohort to gain this award in 2012. And moving on from there, I completed a part-time PhD in Public Health at the University of Lancaster (2013-2021).
It was during my systems practice studies that I took up the invitation to use a blog as part of my reflective learning journey. That’s how Just Practicing came about.
In the early days of studying, I thought it was the ‘facts’ that mattered. I was quite adept at sponging them all up but gradually I became to understand that the skills of application (praxis) and the inter-linkages mattered more – after all you can always look up facts. It is carrying it out in action that matters and reflecting as you go. So Just Practicing includes reflections on experiences; reflections on what I read and how it helps me understand what I do; reflections on what bothers me and why and helps me link up my trains of thought over time. It’s based around my ‘work’ worlds – formerly, as an employee in a local authority developing and coordinating partnership working for wellbeing and health and now as an associate lecturer for the Open University. But connecting that across to my ‘study’ world in related disciplines – particularly systems thinking, social learning, collaborative working, public health, policy studies and action research.
All writing is in a personal capacity.