Sunday, September 19, 2010

Another Prayer for Patience

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Patience-Prayer As Poem

Freudian slip: Typed the title of this poem
First: "Patience-Prayer As Power"
Patience would be my greatest power now
Powerful patience: What would that look like?
Staying present
Raising my brows as high as they go to
Release the furrow
Feeling magic enough at the prospect of a
Small contribution, paradoxically making
A big impact
As Rabbi Kleinbaum reminded us: A butterfly
Flaps its wings in South America and a
Hurricane -- or was it a tornado -- is
Unleashed faraway, elsewhere in the world
Yosef Goldman, one of our rabbinical interns,
Reminds us that two strangers can sit in a
Doorway of a city-street, listening to
Bethoven's Ninth on a boom-box and cry
If I can just be present, just be patient, I
Can be a conscious butterfly, but
Flapping my wings for good, not destruction
And a listening, crying, connected human.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Beautiful Riddance of Sin

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Tossing Away My 5770 Wrongdoings

It is now 5771, according to the Hebrew Calendar. That means that 5,771 years ago, God created humanity, according to Jewish tradition. Obviously, humanity's a lot older than that, but I still like the idea of a birthday for the world that fits a time-frame that's well within the realm of my imagination.

I want so badly to keep this blog entry pure and free of references to September 11th, 2001, but as I write, it's in my head in parallel with what I want to write about, so I'll just acknowledge that it's nine years on; and it was the closest I ever came to being in a war-zone, since I was in Manhattan that day; and it's a gorgeous day so far, just like it was then; and otherwise today, I'll be going about the business of getting my hair cut and having lunch with my mom, then coming home and doing some work.

What I Want to Write About:

It's the end of dusk on the sunny-cloudy-sunny first day of Rosh Hashanah and I'm standing on a bridge, tossing seven stones into a small river because we have no bread with us. It's not the Mianus River; it's more of a huge creek, just north of Exit 35 of the Merritt Parkway, diagonally across from Wire Mill Road, just off of High Ridge Road in Stamford, Connecticut, the town where I was born and raised.

I'm doing Tashlich for two, as my nearly-85-year-old mom's unable to walk the relatively short distance to get to the river-creek. "How many sins do you want me to get rid of, Mom?"

"Three," she says after a pause.

My Rosh Hashanah outfit this year is green and brown and practically, I blend into the woods as I bend over to pick up the stones. I'm amazed at the memory of 40+ years ago that sketches itself over top of the current scene; it erases the foot-bridge I'm standing on, adds more dragon-flies than the one I see and includes dappled sunshine and a mother my age, watching her three daughters, splashing among the rock-bedded, shallow ripples.

We called it the swimming hole then, though the water wasn't really deep enough for swimming, and it was an adventure just a few miles south of our High Ridge Road house, which my mom treated us to in summer-times.

Now, I'm standing on a cement and metal bridge over it, tossing three stones in a row for my mom and then several for me: For not spending enough time with Pat, my family and friends -- one stone (Pat just came to say hi and I told her I'm trying to blog; oy!); for being impatient with my mother and any of her extra needs as she's getting older; for being impatient with myself for not being able to do as much as I think I ought to on any given day; for being self-absorbed.

I return to the car and tell my mom that other than the bridge and time of day, the swimming hole looks like it did when we used to splash there.

She smiles.

I drive my mom back to the High Ridge Road house, where I grew up and where she still lives, and feel the loving opposite of impatient.

God, please let me be that way at lunch today, too, and let me have a more patient 5771 altogether. Amen.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Some Impressions of Wilson Textbook, Chapters 11, 12 & 13

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

The Textbook Title: Human Resource Development...

[Re-posting from the internal Teachers College online system for my cohort, for whatever it's worth:]

This was a good chapter-trio, since chapters 11 and 12 talk about adult learners' characteristics, needs, learning styles and motivations and chapter 13, "Reflective Practice," speaks directly to us as practitioners, reminding us that being reflective of what we do in our practice is essential, just as encouraging the learners to be reflective is key to an optimal learning experience.

Perhaps I've said this in other adult learning courses, but as a learner myself, I've found that the incidental learning I've done (referred to on p. 202 as the unintentional part of Informal Learning) always has felt the most profound and memorable to me compared with the planned curriculum. As an adult educator, it could demoralize me if I thought that that was generally true, that the learning I designed was less effective than the learning they did by accident while enrolled in one of my interventions...however, chapter 13 (p. 241) redeems my mood:

If I design reflection into my interventions, then the learners might feel like it's incidental learning, but really, I know they'd not necessarily have had that learning if I hadn't set the stage for it.

On p. 240 of chapter 13, Wilson writes, "Most of the time, most practitioners do not question what they do." It's true that I was ready to barrel along and design a 60-minute Social Learning Enablement Workshop by pure intuition...well, and a theory based on historical observation of the learners, but had not really thought too hard about honing the learning objectives, creating a needs analysis and assessment, nor per se about the Learning Combination Lock model's elements on p. 207.

Now, since I'm conscious of the need to do all of that, thanks to the reading, I'm reflecting *pre*-action that I need to be aware of how adults will resist learning anything that threatens their identity (p. 211). Also, they will struggle, even if motivated to learn, if they feel it's beyond them -- of all things, a technophobia example was cited in that context (p. 213); I will try to counter the struggle and encourage the motivation through a Humanist approach of "...warmth, care and understanding (p. 213)

Now, too, I recognize that I'm facilitating their gain of domain-specific skills, including Cognitive and Psychomotors skills from Bloom's taxonony...and I know from having done a Honey-Mumford-produced self-assessment at work several years ago, my natural learning-style bias will be toward Activist-Theorist (p. 216), so I'll need to see if I can stretch and design elements that will also appeal to learners with Pragmatist and Reflector styles.

Some Impressions of Wilson Textbook, Chapters 3, 5 & 6

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

The Textbook Title: Human Resource Development...

[Re-posting from the internal Teachers College online system for my cohort, for whatever it's worth:]

All semester, I will relate the readings to my own job experience wherever possible, since I work for a corporation.

The three chapters were useful as an intro to the course because they position HR developers as change agents (Wilson, 2008, p. 57); the needed linkage between business strategy and HRD (Wilson, 2008, pp. 83-84); and refer to the learning organization as "...a process rather than a state," which reminds me of how business strategy works, too; it is never static (Wilson, 2008, p. 101).

Change management drives both learning organizations' directions and strategic direction, so it's a fitting first chapter of the trio, and I appreciate Burnes' comprehensive model, as up until this year at my employer, IBM, we'd been facilitating John Kotter's change model in our leadership development learning offerings. The most interesting part of the model to me was his distinction between Information and Communitcation (Wilson, 2008, p. 51).

I was also happy to read about PWC's Change Integration Team as foundational (Wilson, 2008, p. 46) because IBM's now moved to that Change Integration Team's concept of Better Change.

Finally, I saw a connection between the Theories E & O (Wilson, 2008, p. 47) and the potential tensions that a learning organization model could cause: While a company's top management might think that it was promoting Theory O by encouraging informal learning and communities of practice, a number of employees could interpret it as Theory E. This possibility came to me as I read the chapters: A company might be so proud of itself for encouraging grass-roots, peer-to-peer learning, thinking it was being progressive and empowering employees/promoting autonomy while a number of employees might interpret the encouragement as a cost-cutting tactic, e.g., fewer formal learning programs (which cost the company money to develop and run), and more informal opportunities, which cost the company no additional money beyond employees' salaries.

P.S. I just re-read the final paragraph and want to mention that I'm an agent of online social learning among peers and see it as a sign of Theory O, but I know a number of people across a number of companies who focus on the cost piece and are a bit bitter as a result, i.e., they think their employer is being cheap, rather than that their employer is promoting innovation and autonomy.