From curiousity to ambiguity and liminality

I’ve picked up on Tracy’s posts recently as I’ve really seen a connection with her process and mine around the nature of emergent practice, where practice leads to (rather than being based in) theoretical approaches to learning and teaching. Perhaps some call this praxis?

Following on from her curious curriculum, Tracy talks a bit more about her teaching process – this time about ambiguity.

Crossing over, I’ve also recently picked up reading Tom Haskins’ blog after meeting him (online) in Sydney last week. Tom’s post, Learning from not really learning, got me thinking once more about the unsettled moments and ambiguities we encounter daily in our work and life.

Those liminal spaces help us to reach forward in our learning as we grapple to understand and make sense of new knowledge. So too, in a changing workplace, we are often in the same state, yet it seems that very quickly we try to find the closest ground, somewhere ‘safe’ with some semblance of permanence or firmness. This seems normal in a high state of change, such as a restructure, for example.

Liminality requires time and space. It requires careful holding and is, as Tom reiterates in his post about learning, a process not a product that we can mold. It’s an intangible feeling (usually a feeling of vulnerability) that is often uncomfortable. When we feel uncomfortable, we of course seek comfort. In the learning process we seek understanding in order to feel a sense of comfort and feeling of achievement thus follows.

In learning, these liminal spaces require empathic intelligence (from within us and with others), not a rush to achieve learning outcomes. They require little content and are more a space to wander through one’s learning in process. They are tumultuous and unsettling but have space for stillness and reflection.

‘They’ are not spaces really – liminality is us and our journey towards knowing, where we realise we are on the threshold of understanding.

Thanks Tracy and Tom for your quiet words of wisdom.

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