I’m just wrapping up a 2+ week trip to Zurich and Prague. A few more things to do, and then I fly home. It’s been a great privilege to teach – as it always is – and especially to teach people from so many different cultures, countries, and contexts. Here in Prague, in a group of 120 people there were people from 10 different countries, and from many different professional backgrounds.
One of the things that struck me was this: many people thanked me for this blog, and said they followed it. Often, that was followed up by, “but I don’t comment.”
That was similar to comments people made about being in the large group: not everyone felt free to raise their hand and speak in public. A blog and a large group are similar in this regard – both involve big groups of people, many of whom are unknown to you. I think individual and cultural differences play a role in speaking up and out in public. Raising your hand in a large group, or commenting on a blog post, are different things to different people. As an American, I have been acculturated to see speaking as a sign of learning and engagement. But that’s not universal. Speaking is not synonymous with learning, just as is not synonymous with following this blog.
I am glad to hear so many people follow this blog, whether or not they (you!) commented.
On a slightly different, yet related point: at one point in the seminar this past weekend, I was explaining an activity, and made a mistake. I felt pressured by the time, and gave an instruction that was wrong. I missed my own mistake, and no one said anything. Afterwards, someone came up to me, and asked about it, and then I realized my mistake. What struck me was that no one, not even dozens of people who knew it correctly, said anything as I explained it.
Of course, the workshop was on the theme of power, so I immediately concluded that it was like a modern (and milder!) version of Milgram’s experiment – people obediently following authority, even when they knew it was wrong.
But there’s a twist in the ending to this story. I asked some people about it, and got a variety of responses which made me reflect on my own assumptions.
Some people said, “Well, yes, I thought it was wrong, but then I doubted myself.” But many others said, “Oh good, a new way to do something! That’s fun.” And still others said, “Well, let’s try and see if this works as well as the correct way of doing it.”
And this brings me back to the issue of commenting on the blog. Everyone has their own way of participating and engaging. I make assumptions about people’s experiences, but it’s hard to know, really, what someone gets out of a learning piece of instruction, or a blog. We learn and make sense of things in our way…. and, even more importantly, we learn and make sense of the world in our own unique ways, learning just what we need to learn, when we need it, and how we need it.
So thanks to all you readers out there, however you participate. I’m just grateful to you for stopping by.