Amy's Second Post
Since I won't be able to be in class on Saturday, I wanted to share some of my thought about the readings. It's funny, as I was reading the assigned portion of Lynn's dissertation about acknowledgement circles, I was reflecting on the fact that not being in class on Saturday will change the dynamic of things, regardless of whether I think so or not. So, I'm sorry to have to be absent, I will miss the time to reflect on readings and what we've all been doing related to the course in a non-virtual setting.
A number of different things were very alive for me in the readings this time. Having been a part of creating many intentional learning environments - residential and non-residential alike - I was very engaged in Lynn's dissertation reflections on how to best create those spaces; spaces where people feel truly empowered to speak from both the head and heart. In my opinion, the heart space is what is so often missing in our traditional public education system in this country. The idea that learning should be a personal journey has been sort of beaten out of us over time and now it's seen as "fluffy" to spend time focused on how our academic/intellectual pursuits also impact us personally. While I certainly agree that our standards of performance/learning in the US are abominable, I don't think the answer is necessarily just making school more about the head exclusively. We need to truly be striving towards learning spaces where all learners feel truly able to engage and learn.
I love the section on listening skills and the discussion of why people do and do not listen well. It seems like our constant "plugging-in" and "checking-out" is a major source of this trouble. We have learned so well how to listen to our iPods and laptops that we've unlearned how to listen well to each other. The fact that a college student comments made by one of the college students about Lynn and John's listening abilities really hit me - and made me ask, does this young woman not have any good listeners in her personal life? No friends? or family? who can play that role... It just seems like a sad state of societal affairs when good listeners are so few and far between for young people.
The leadership article really made me think about how gender plays in to styles of leadership - both in very "public" public spaces (i.e. Bush post LA riots) and in more "private" public spaces (i.e holding the space of a learning circle). In my reading of Heifetz, I believe he essentially argues that the forms of leadership that are less overt can be (and must be) effective in those more "public" public spaces. But does that stand true for women equally as it does for men? If a female presidential candidate proposes a new style of leadership - will it ever be successful if it is not "strong" and not just strong, but overtly strong, decisively strong - the leader with answers, the right answers? Leadership styles and public perception of leaders is an area where gender stereotypes tend to really make me crazy - and the lack of dialogue about this in much of the leadership literature also strike me as very unfortunate.
Enjoy the discussion tomorrow - I'll see you next time.