Thursday, October 1, 2009

story sharing

I dropped into the IIT ID Design Research Conference for the express purpose of listening and learning and seeing what new strategies for myself might emerge.
I was not disappointed though I didn't get an opportunity to listen in on the talks, I did catch up with a couple of friends who summarized what I missed.
My intention was to talk to students in order to prepare for teaching in the winter. I wanted to learn firsthand what ideas were exciting them and to hear the language they use to express their own thoughts.

I owe a couple of thanks.
one to's never enough to think by merely being in a place at a given moment that something will come. Rather, so much of life and conversation is owed to how much we are willing to expose our thoughts, probe beyond the surface level of noise, whether visual or tactical and purposefully engage in a conversation.
secondly my hats are off to the student organizers who quite willingly were able to put me in touch with other students. I was able to determine that I could readily establish some common ground, engage in active listening and discovered great joy at the prospect of deepening relationships with the diversity of students attending IIT ID.

But this is all filling time and space and though I could go on, I want to share the art of questioning.

I met a series of students who asked logically, rationally what was my preferred methodology.
Since I don't have a design methodology and rather than use the canned answer "it depends," I opted to explore the question. I talked about collaboration, and found myself expressing what is often a barrier to collaboration...individuals need to be right and therefore unwilling to give up ground or to actual present a position. Conversely, if we were to openly listen to someone's tweak, question and challenge of our position, we might find new ways to incorporate the new aspects or dimensions of their input and arrive at a new shared understanding/new position.

But something more interesting ocurred. I listened to the students and asked if they really meant what they said about story...and of course one covered for the other making an honest apology for the other's misstatement. But as we deconstructed the comment, the other began to understand that story is too easy a metaphor and as a result not very evoking of a greater understanding. we than pondered story in a variety of genres and that's where it became clearer what and why story really is about for the individual ...the natural narrative.

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