CIC #4 – The Paradox Structure Exercise



The Paradox Structure exercise

Step 1: Choose a structure to analyze that is familiar to you.

This week I have found very interesting the “Paradox Structure” lecture. This is why I read, some months ago, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” written by T.S. Khun, so the chapter by Mrs.K.W.Jablokov, makes it clear what happens when a new idea/thought is born and how allocate it inside or outside of existing paradigms. For the exercise I have chosen the school where I teach, because is for me a well known structure.

Step 2: Consider how the Paradox of Structure applies to the structure you have chosen. Write down both the enabling and limiting features of that structure as you see them. Some features may appear in both categories (enabling and limiting).

The organizational structure of the Italian hight school is old, it comes from the middle of the XX century and the new reforms made in the past years, after attempts of innovations, have been reported recently to the initial structure. (But the world goes on).

Despite this structural rigidity, some teachers, not many, are aware that there is a need to review the meanings about learning/teaching pedagogical concepts and redesign the paradigm around their work.

Enabling: something is moving

  • The Ministry of Education is trying to innovate the school with the introduction of some projects about new technology with training courses on Interactive White Boards.

  • My school have activated some specific projects to introduce these devices, and others like tablets, laptops, ect., to open the classrooms to the outside with the Internet connections.

Limiting: more isn’t moving

  • Architectural: our classrooms are structured for a classical teaching. The teacher uses his voice, the textbook, individual exercise, narrow classrooms and so on. It is difficult to create a physical environment where the students can connect.

  • Teachers’ skills: the most of teachers aren’t attending the Web environment. Precisely: they know what the Internet is, but they give it a technological value, not a cultural one. Moreover, they cannot actively manage the Web tools.

  • Mentality: teachers think that it is possible to move the new technological skills into the old classical paradigm about teaching/learning. (I think this is the hardest obstacle to overcome).

My analysis shows the main points; I could write many pages on the topic, but I think this synthesis is enough to understand the conflict between tradition against innovation. The online speeches with my colleagues or experts on media education are agree to say that we are in a transition period, where the old concepts and paradigms are very strong supported by the old structure (physical and mental) so, the inescapable change suddenly will appear in the coming years. At this point it will need to clarify the structure of the new paradigm and their boundaries.

For this reason I thought my creative project – you can see it here – that would want to help teachers, who’d like to learn, more about the revolutionary changing of the new media impact in their work methods.

Step 3: If possible, find a partner (inside or outside this course) who is willing to analyze the same structure you’ve chosen – or maybe you can trade structures with a classmate and analyze two! Have each person record the enabling and limiting features of each structure – and then compare your views. How are your views of the enabling and limiting features of the structure similar? How are they different?

Well, I’m waiting for your kind opinion. What do you think about my analysis? Have you the same perceptions? What happen in your school? What do you think the future will be, are you optimist o pessimist? What are you doing to innovate your teaching? Feel free to express what you think; your ideas are very important to me. Thank you.

Step 4 (for extra depth): If you have done the Creative Style Estimation Exercise, you might also think about your creative style and creative level and the impact they have on how you view the structure(s) you’ve been analyzing. And if you are working with a partner, you might also consider how your respective creative styles and levels impact your different views. See what you can learn about your preferences for structure by discussing your individual perspectives!

My creative style is moderately innovative (71/ points) I think my project is in line with my style because, although innovative, is based on experiences that are already practiced in other areas of social life and volunteer work. What is innovative are the contents: knowledge, skills, new teaching/learning concepts that are structuring a new paradigm. Instead, what is known, is the exchange between people who have something to give to each other.

In practice, in this phase of my project design, I’m listening to my colleagues what they are thinking about it. Follow my steps on my site.

Step 5: Come to the Discussion Forum for this exercise and share your findings and insights.

What did you discover about structure in general?

I’m very interested about the topic. Our brain, but all our body, are complex structures, I think that our thoughts and ideas are strongly influenced by structures (physical – not physical). When we are learning something new, we have to allocate the experiences, concepts, paradigms into existing structures and if we have an open body/mind, we can help to restructure more easily the knowledge and, consequently, the same structures.

What did you learn about the particular structure(s) you analyzed?

The analysis helped me to consider aspects of the global framework, or rather, to understand how the opposing forces play and quantify the benefits of a sustainable improvement.

What did you find out about different views of structure?

I can see everyday on the Web what different countries are doing to innovate the education methods, they are both about physical and mental structures.

How can you apply the Paradox of Structure in other parts of your life?

In particular I can see see in the political and government measures that are no longer adequate to the needs of the XXI century life.


2 pensieri riguardo “CIC #4 – The Paradox Structure Exercise”

  1. Emanuela,
    Great example! Why not try this: consider the current structure of the school system and what is enabling about it – NOT JUST what is limiting! If there was nothing enabling about it, it wouldn’t have lasted this long. Then also consider what is limiting about your new idea – NOT JUST what is enabling! In other words, consider what is enabling and limiting about both forms of the school structure. Then, see if you can come up with a third option that keeps the enabling features of both previous options and avoids the limiting features of both! It will probably be a bit tricky, but I think it will be worth your time. 🙂

    1. Thank you Kathryn for your comment, it’s an honor for me 🙂

      Yes I agree with you. The particular moment needs we try to change what is possible and reconcile the positions between the two different cultures. My project idea, in fact, would want to build a bridge and help the teachers who would like to learn a new way to work, closer to the new generation of students.
      I think it is not so tricky, we need to create opportunities of meeting and the exchange I offer, could be a solution. I hope so. 😉


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