Re: OD\education

Aaron Pun (
Fri, 26 May 1995 09:59:04 -0400 (EDT)

So nicely has Suzanne put the problem in perspective regarding action
learning and PCP. I faced the same problem in making PCP and action
learning being well recognised in Canada. I have similar responses from
another list server on Organizational Learning that action learning is
seen as useful for developing the managers when we dialogue how they can
devleop the strategic thinking rather than being locked in the
operational paradigm when they were being first trained. However, the
idea was considered a nice one but American firms look for quick fix,
dramatic and experiential type of activity rather than the real action
learning which is seen to be too slow, reflective... However, we have a
strong belief that one day they have to go back to the basic.

Well I have done some cross cultural research and in my reading I find
that one of the authros has mentioned this phenomenon. The American is
more influenced in the social sciences tradition by the behaviouralism
and the cognitive psychology study or approach is seen with suspicion.
They doubt the result because it cannot be seen immediately. Reflective
practice is underminded because of the activity orientation. Hence PCP
and action learning is not seen with special favour. I do encounter some
degree of difficult to get support from people in Toronto so that my
use of PCP in my research can be discussed. I look for some people whom
we can contiue to learn together in the same geographical location. Do
let me know if anyone is interested to form a supportive learning team.
This is the only way to promote the approach we believe to be real useful.

On the optimistic side, the action research as Suzanne mentioned, is
getting more support lately in Canada. Eric Trist at York University is
promoting that. The OISE of U of Toronto is getting the Action Research
Course recognised as one of the research approaches designated as meeting
the doctoral research requirement for its adult education program.

I am glad of this listserver for the promotion and discussion of these

Aaron PUN

On 25 May 1995 wrote:

> Fascinating turn this discussion is taking! Glad to hear about
> MOntessori in MA. Actually, though TN's state board is number
> crazy, we have 28 optional schools in the Memphis City Schools --
> everything from Montessori to "Back to Basics," academic enrichment,
> creative/performing arts... Parents start lining up days before
> registration, some even camping out, to get their kids in the most
> popular programs. There's some "white flight" for sure, given our
> demographics, but there are also a good number of parents who
> understand the sort of learning environment their children need.
> Too bad we don't have more options here and elsewhere.
> Someone once said a university is a collection of buildings joined
> merely by a common sewer. One of the great things about PCP and
> this list is that we can transcend disciplinary boundaries and use
> the "well developed concepts" such as Devi mentions.
> It seems to me that the success of the Action Learning model is due
> to its coherance with what we understand about learning (defined
> broadly.) The ownership -- or investment has to be one key, as well
> as the fact that trainees can anticipate implementation. Unless, as
> Aaron notes, learners (be they little kiddies, college students, or
> corporate executives) define what _they_ need to learn and recognize
> problems faced and competencies needed, teachers/trainers' efforts
> will likely be futile. We may be able to coerce our victims into
> carrying out _our_ projects, and they may go through the motions,
> but is there meaningful reconstruction?
> Actually, there are some parallels in the education scene today,
> with Action Research being a hot topic, and Critical Theory seeming
> to be on the rise again, at least in the literature. Unfortunately,
> as I may have mentioned here before, the strong implications of PCP
> just aren't recognized -- it's scarcely known in the US. Anyone
> have thoughts on why there's such a heritage of PCP educational
> research in the UK, Canada, Australia, and so little here?
> Re- active learning at the college level, one obstacle I've observed
> is students' construal of what constitutes "teaching" e.g. as a TA
> for an auditorium intro ed psych course, I opened the floor for
> questions when the prof wasn't there, and got, "Why doesn't Dr. X
> lecture from the textbook?" That was probably all he'd known in
> high school and his first year or so in college, so in his view, the
> prof wasn't doing her job!
> Final note - gee I'm jumping around - re Hunt. If I'm not mistaken,
> he was well before Jack's time -- though not long before some of the
> others here. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe I've
> read that his was the first dissertation using grid methods,
> however, PCP was so controversial that he left it alone for a
> number of years. Devi - I don't have the reference on me (will get
> it to you next week), but Hunt wrote an article titled "How to be
> your own best theorist" describing a workshop for teachers. He
> melds PCP with Lewin's PBE stuff in a way that appears very
> adaptable for OD.
> That's _plenty_ for now!
> Suzanne Huffman