That can’t be right!

I have finally managed to get into a live session  (today’s Ustream) after missing the last three and it’s amazing how much more connected I feel! There’s a lesson in there somewhere for online learning and learning in networks!

Discussion this week obviously focussed on power, authority and control in networks. I still haven’t mastered keeping up with the chat and the presenters at the same time, and the recording hasn’t yet gone up for me to check this, but at one point, when talking about power, authority and control, Stephen said:

It has nothing to do with what I say and everything to do with what I do.

Now – surely that can’t be completely right.

What I really like about Etienne Wenger’s work on communities of practice is that he always talks in terms of dualities and not in terms of dichotomies. The more I read of his work and the more I listen to him speak (live and in forums), the more it seems to make sense to me not to speak in terms of dichotomies.

So in terms of dualities we would be looking for both elements to be present and trying to ensure balance. So sometimes power, authority and control will be to do with what we say and at others about what we do, and the way in which we exert power, authority and control will be constantly changing according to the circumstances and context.

I am aware of the saying – ‘Actions speak louder than words’ – but I was also very aware when bringing up my children, that I could probably do them far more harm with a few ill-chosen words than I could with inappropriate action.  As I write this – I’m thinking – is this true and am aware that it’s all relative. However, I think what is true, is that its wiser to think in terms of dualities than dichotomies. And this is from the mouth of someone whose husband is still (after 40 years of marriage) telling her to beware of thinking in terms of black and white and to keep looking for shades of grey.

So do power, authority and control, need to be thought of in terms of the balance between instigator and receiver in relation to teacher and learner, parent and child, actor and resistor and so on?

This is another thinking aloud post, I’m afraid. It’s not something I’m going to get a handle on during this course – or maybe even not in a lifetime!

2 thoughts on “That can’t be right!

  1. suifaijohnmak November 1, 2008 / 12:31 am

    Thanks Jenny. This is a powerful insights into authority, power and control.
    “Actions speak louder than words.” So true.

    There is a Chinese motto: “One set of words could help a nation to prosper, and another set of poorly-chosen words could destroy a nation” I am not exaggerating, it happened in Chinese history when an emperor was overthrown due to his inappropriate wordings. That echoed strongly with your assertion that “I could probably do them far more harm with a few ill-chosen words than I could with inappropriate action.”

    I reckon this is also an experiment out of a bigger experiment. What do researchers need in an experiment? In our course – people, resources, apparatus, Moodle, Elluminate and Ustream sessions, assignments, networks…. What are the researchers measuring? You are right here! Writing your blogs. And I am busily writing in response to your post on this blog. The emotions. What are the others doing – including the lurkers? How about the other blogs?
    Have I missed anything? Oh yes- the final report. But we have to wait…..
    Is power part of the experiment?
    Is learning an experiement?
    Is network an experiment?
    Finally, are we also experimenting?
    Renewed thanks for your insights.

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