I have been pondering the concept of self-organisation and feel the need to pull the threads together.

I have mentioned the term in posts before but never felt I have a real grip on it.  Then the other day, I was at a workshop to do with community empowerment which not-surprisingly discussed the notion of the “Big Society”.  One of my voluntary and community sector colleagues spoke and referred to a handout he had written on “Kauffman’s essential preconditions for self-organisation”.  He had my attention immediately…

Continue reading

Links between paradigm of social learning and juggling

Woodhill  (2002) identifies three elements for facilitating the development of social learning.  He points out that these are the three defining features of a paradigm for social learning.

– A paradigm is defined by its philosophical assumptions – a paradigm for social learning includes philosophical reflection.

– A paradigm is defined by its methodological approaches – a paradigm for social learning includes methodological pluralism.

– A paradigm is defined by its institutionalised practices – a paradigm for social learning needs institutional design.

As I read Woodhill’s commentary on what he experiences in the here and now and what he advocates is needed for a social learning paradigm, I saw a number of parallels with what we learned through the juggler isophor in part 2.

Continue reading

What does ‘critical’ mean?

I have been reading about critical social learning systems and it has set me thinking – what is the difference between social learning and critical social learning.  Or perhaps more specifically, what did Bawden and his colleagues seek to emphasise and draw attention to when they chose to use the prefix the phrase with the word critical?

Continue reading


Just a short quick note about the word ‘identify’ or maybe I mean the practice of identification.  I want to put it here as it is an understanding I have gained from the stream of posts on the course forum, and, well, I just don’t want to lose it.

In a world of objects, identify seems to be about pointing out, labelling and naming.  It assumes tangible-ness.

So how does the practice of identification work with systems?

Continue reading

My experience of appreciating the NHS and public health reforms

(Activity 3.12)

As Blackmore (2010, 20) explains in an editor’s note, Vickers did not represent his idea of an appreciative system in a diagram or model.  However, Checkland and Caser did produce a model based on their understandings of Vickers work in 1986.  This is reproduced in Blackmore (2010) on page 21.

I struggled with this diagram at first – mainly because of its title “Diagram of Vickers’ appreciative systems model”.  After posting about this to the course forum, I was helped by one of the tutors (Jitse) who said that it may be better to think of the diagram as a “conceptual representation of the process of appreciation”.  I found this much more helpful as a trigger to understanding my own experience.  I am still not sure about the diagram itself but I can now use it as a springboard for reflecting on a recent experience  of appreciation.

Continue reading

Vickers’ key concepts

(Activity 3.10, 3.11, SAQ 3.3)

I think I mentioned elsewhere that I have come across Geoffrey Vickers work on “appreciation” a few times before but I have never had the opportunity to look at the source material and the writing of the man himself.  From reading the relevant chapter (Blackmore (Ed), 2010, Chapter 2) I have gained the following understanding of key concepts.

Continue reading

Schön’s concepts

(Activity 3.7 based on Chapter 1, Blackmore (ed) (2010))

I have heard of Schön before.  Mostly in connection with his work on reflective practice and also from his work with Argyris on learning (Ramage and Shipp, 2009).  I had not really come across his work on change where he uses ideas connected with social learning.  He is included in the course as one of the ‘early’ works on social learning systems – the chapter in the book was written in 1973.

After reading the Chapter, I come away with the following understanding of Schön’s key concepts

Continue reading

First impressions….

(Activity 3.1, 3.2 based on Introduction and Chapter 12 in Blackmore (2010))

So Part 3 of the course is about social learning – or to use the formal heading “Social learning, interaction and systemic change”.

From what I gather so far, this draws on some different traditions of research and practice around social learning.

Continue reading