Sunday, September 24, 2006

feedback as truth seeking

from artichoke on feedback:
... teasing out what feedback tasted like in the hospitality industry, what feedback felt like when you took the real world of hospitality into the muted landscapes of tertiary education and what feedback should be about.

I have never understood offering feedback to institutions. When I am asked for feedback I am torn by the desire to be faithful to the Arti_choke and say what I believe, and the smart approach – to adopt a "this is just a game and no one reads it anyway" type of feedback.

Although telling those “that ask what I think”, what I think they most want to hear is smart thinking I am hopelessly attracted to the need to cast all the stones.

Apparently there is another option. According to (someone else) ... regardless of audience you should adjust your feedback so that it able to be understood and adopted. This was a critical new insight to Arti’ – apparently muted and muzzled parboiled even lightly steamed bipolar feedback can be more valuable to effecting institutional change than unloading raw thought.
ROUGH NOTES: three views on feedback

Feedback for "niceness", institutional survival and social reproduction - a practical question for surviving in a day to day world (smoothness approach)
keywords: being nice, surviving, being diplomatic, avoiding the bumps, sucking up, niche, going with the tide

Feedback for tweaking the system in such a way as to undermine it and bring it down - Gorbachov's Pereistroika (dynamic systems theory approach). This goes against the normal trend of systems incorporating and adapting to feedback in such a way that maintains / preserves the system. The perceived futility of even providing feedback to the "system" because it usually chews it up and spits it out in a form not intended by the provider. Feedback as "a game" / feedback to tweak the system.

Feedback as truth seeking.
Feedback as part of an epistemological cycle, the aim of which is to find the truth. Theory / practice spiral, ascending from the abstact to the concrete. This is an essential part of the materialist world view, a progressive cycle, working out, moving towards something called "truth" or "objective reality". The view that this is possible, that reality can be perceived, that it is contained within the atoms and energy around us. Philosophically, this is the opposite of the idealist world view, that reality is ultimately in our minds or in the mind of God. Belief in materialist world view impels(?) us, to attempt to speak the truth as we see it. There is no point in doing anything but that. With an idealist world view it really doesn't matter, what voice we speak with, since truth is not something we can approach. Post modernism, the view that truth just depends on the observer and has no objective reality beyond that is part of the idealist world view.

- being honest and frank without going "over the top" (means?) does usually attract strong support (although perhaps minority support), it's a good way to find your true friends
- the nature of teaching (dealing everyday with people from diverse backgrounds and outlooks) does create a strong pressure to avoid the bumps, to be "nice" - if you are interacting with a hundred different people everyday then having an ongoing conflict with just one or two of them can make for a "bad day"


'Thought & Humor' said...
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Artichoke said...

Thanks Bill, your analysis confirms my Taieri train experience - even feedback has texture, nuance and poetry - perhaps it is also the case that feedback when offered in f2f encounters makes it easier to determine meaning than feedback offered through text alone. [finding meaning in text can be a treacherous experience]

Bill Kerr said...

tony has extracted and summarised another type of feedback in a comment at arti's blog , this one a favourite of Education Departments:

Managing legal liabilities and demonstrating the exercise of due process in a politically correct environment.