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Posted By Ted Baumhauer
I've been thinking more, and talking with my friends, about what I wrote on July 15 about how students and participants in workshops, sometimes struggle with putting theory into practice. A friend suggested I should consider the word praxis. So I looked it up on Wikipedia.
From Wikipedia
In Ancient Greek the word praxis (πραΎ±ξις) referred to activity engaged in by free men. Aristotle held that there were three basic activities of man: theoria, poiesis and praxis. There corresponded to these kinds of activity three types of knowledge: theoretical, to which the end goal was truth; poietical, to which the end goal was production; and practical, to which the end goal was action. Aristotle further divided practical knowledge into ethics, economics and politics. He also distinguished between eupraxia (good praxis) and dyspraxia (bad praxis, misfortune).
Those ancient Greeks were pretty smart. This description fits exactly with what I’ve observed. This isn’t a new problem with education; it is an ongoing labor in education. Teaching is a process of transferring both knowledge (theoria) and skill (praxis). Theory without practical application is of little use. To use a catch phrase…at the end of the day it isn’t enough to know how to pay the bills, you actually have to pay them!
Posted By Ted Baumhauer

Little Blue Penguins

The Huffington Post points out in an article How to find penguins a somewhat unusual way of finding penguins.  Scientist stumbled on to the method of tracking their poop stains on the ice.  Then they discovered that these stains can be spotted from space.  Doesn't this just beg a metaphor?  Oh!  Where to start.... .so many possibilities.

1.  Don't think your actions, good and bad, fail to leave a residual mark.  Whatever you do leaves an impression of some type that says you were there. 

Do you want to leave a positive mark or a stain? 

2.  If trails of penguin poop can be seen and tracked from space why do we think it is a big deal that the Great Wall of China can be seen from space.  Evidence of penguins can be seen from space too!  One is evidence of intelliegence, planning and determination.  The other is a poop stain.  Want to be seen and noticed from a distance? 

3.  Finding one penguin in the ocean or on the ice shelf would be really difficult.  But finding a bunch of penguins, apparently, is pretty easy if you look from a distance.  Just follow the trail.  It seems to me that we can and do find  really good employees in large systems that stand out, but isn't easier to spot those organzations that are known for their good, or bad, service?

As much fun as this is, I will stop, for now.

Posted By Ted Baumhauer

In the past year I have made an effort to get back into the classroom as an instructor.  Well not just the classroom, what I mean is that I'm trying to get myself into more teaching situations whether there is a classroom involved or not.  In doing this I've realized even more that there is a big difference between knowing and being able to do. 

Where this has come to the surface for me this past year is that the students I'm working with can have a discussion about a theory, recognize the concepts on a multiple choice test and even write papers about the concepts....but when I put them into situations to apply the knowledge they often seem lost. 

Now I've noticed this for a number of years so it's not a new thing it's just that I'm noticing it now in the specific context of teaching at the college level.  That's got me to thinking that it says more about the educational system then the students.  Students will live up to, or down to, the expectations of the instructors in order to get the grade they want. 

Do we as teachers/managers/leaders challenge?  Do we push our students/employees beyond the level of tell me what you're going to do into the area of show me?  Do we expect them to apply the knowledge or just know it?  It seems to me that it is an incomplete education to just know something and not to be able to apply that knowledge to our advantage.

Posted By Ted Baumhauer

Consider what you don't say.

 Back more than a dozen years ago I worked for a company.  It had some swings in fortune and with the expected adjustments in number of employees.  Toward the end of my time with them a new trainer was brought on board.  My new assignment was to teach him how to do the main workshop that I taught.  Shortly after he was up to speed I was let go.  The company was trying to save money.  It wasn't a surprise; I saw it coming even though I was told it wouldn't happen.  I went along with it.  My thinking at the time was that I couldn't stop the change so why create a difficult situation. 

The company folded less than two years later.  Since then I've kept in touch with a couple of people from my time there.  Both were fellow trainers and neither were in leadership positions.  Then two weeks ago it happened.  After a short presentation, one of the audience members came up to talk with me and suggested I meet this other trainer.  He was from that former company that let me go.  

We met and we only talked about what we had done since in a positive manner and then quickly began talking about the future.  In the entire conversation the subject of our former company never came up.  I could have bad mouthed our former employer in an attempt to make us feel good about surviving our layoff.  But for all I know he could have been close with the owner, I don't know.  Badmouthing the former employer would still change nothing and potentially ruin a current opportunity. 

How do you handle it?  Is it worth the short term satisfaction to criticize?  If you have a concern take it to the person that can make a difference.  In my situation the person that can make a difference would have been my former employer when I was training my replacement.  That was a conversation that did happen.  We don't always win the day.  That we cannot always control or influence the way we want.  What we can have influence on is our reputation and how we handle difficult situation.  Sometimes what we don't say goes a long way toward creating a reputation.  What kind of reputation are you creating for yourself? 





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