Knowing Your Role

This from the “Thinking Stick” – “I don’t like learning alone!”. Jeff Utecht comments on not being able to get into the conference scene. “Other than my own four sessions, I only went to two others …”. “I don’t like learning alone!” This post seems to have attracted some attention and comment. Perhaps it speaks to what the growing number of conferences have become, perhaps it speaks to something else. We do seem to have a proliferation of gatherings and some dissatisfaction with the experience. I do think there are too many conferences that seem to rely on the same presenters. I agree that this combination of frequency and redundancy is kind of boring. However, I am addressing a different issue here.

We may have just discovered another learning style or individual difference to add to the list educators need to address. Perhaps this difference is related to how many times a year you get to do this thing, i.e., go to a conference. Contrary, to the position taken in the Utecht post, I enjoy a “quality presentation”. I want to listen carefully and attempt to understand. I do not want to be distracted by “discussion” until the presenter has had the opportunity to offer background and provide a complete, well thought-out analysis. I do not want to offer three examples of whatever every five minutes to the person sitting next to me. I think I value depth over breadth – isn’t that the in thing to value lately. Until I can gain some insight into the depth of the position, data, or strategy someone else has to offer, my immediate reactions should be surpressed.

I like a quality handout and even a paper with additional information. If you presentation is really useful, I want to think about it some more. I may want to read the references you provide.

I guess we all have our opinions. Quality evidently means very different things to different people. My reaction to most spontaneous interaction depends on the intent. Most I regard as chit chat and banter. If it is intended as socializing, it is fun. Sparing with ideas is something I am capable of doing. It is entertaining. However, if the situation is intended as as an opportunity for learning, then the chit chat to Me is boring.

I think it is the combination of depth and interaction that is useful. There is a time to listen and a time to speak (this is starting to sound biblical). Take the time to read the book. Take the time to listen to a 20 minute presentation. Take the time to carefully prepare a handout. Understand a position and its context before you offer a comment. We get to play many roles if we are willing to be patient.

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