Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

A Case for Action Learning: Living the Question Now

September 7th, 2012

I am writing my dissertation.

One chapter involves making the case for the research method of action learning. I announced this methodology in a blog-entry about my prospectus defense. The kind of knowledge that I am interested in is applied – I want to generate and circulate knowledge that can be used by everyone. The present state of general knowledge about simultaneous interpretation is slim, and specialist knowledges are dense and possibly counterproductive to best practice.

Young people aren’t being taught
the right words to even ask
the right questions.

~ Erin Watson, No Experiences
quoting @horse_ebooks

I chose action learning as my research methodology because I did not have all of the right words, and the batches of the words I did have would not just fall into making a single best question. Finally (after many years), I can ask (what I think is the best) question in various forms, fitting the question to the particular perspective of the audience or receiver(s) in the given context.

A few days ago, I interpreted the opening ceremony at an area college. I commented to my interpreting teammate that one of the benefits of being associated with education is that we are exposed to inspirational speeches a couple of times a year. No matter how many motivational speeches I’ve interpreted (usually from English into ASL), nearly every presenter manages to say something new or particularly relevant to whatever challenges I am currently living. This time it was Rainer Maria Rilke:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved . . . and try to love the questions themselves . . . the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

Recently, my writing has involved email correspondence with a range of different groups of people with various degrees of interest in simultaneous interpretation. I am living the question with each of these groups. The simultaneity of the conversations give me hope that we are, already, somehow living ourselves into the best answer.


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