Dilemmas as Openings

One of my educational theorists is Jack Mezirow, and he writes about how transformative learning happens after learners have experienced disorienting dilemmas. The first experience of the transformational process, a disorienting dilemma is a moment or series of moments that open a person to change.

For dramatic reasons or simple troubling reasons, things don’t fit. Answers that used to work were called into question by one comment or by an accident or by something being different.

In Mezirow’s educational theory, a dilemma is an opening to learning. It is an opening to freedom as I’m developing my practice of education. Perhaps you can see the dilemma ahead of you as an opening.

Perhaps the closed door is an invitation to see the door differently, to see the other side of the door differently, or to see yourself as you stand differently. Dilemmas can be disorienting, but that disorientation can catalyze parts of you that were asleep, dreams that were forgotten, and futures which were awaiting inspiration.

Sitting with Edits

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Photo Thanks to Tram Mau Tri Tam

I’ve been spending a lot of my edge time editing. Edge time is time that I have on the edges on my schedule. Frankly there isn’t much. But every few years I get to edit something meaningful. I’ve been working on someone else’s stuff while also writing a few things of my own in the last months. More on that later.

One thing I’ve noticed about editing—my own and other people’s work—is that the space between the readings is the space where the writer grows. That’s particularly true if you sit with the edits long enough to learn from them. The same is true in a verbatim seminar, in a class, or in a meeting with members or stakeholders or friends. The longer you sit with what’s said, the more impact what’s said has.

Feedback is only as good as you allow it be. If it’s dispensable, you’ll dispense with it. Of course, my post is about editing. All those tracked changes can instruct you, change you, improve your ability to communicate. But you have to take the risk and let that happen.

You have to choose to be vulnerable, to admit to poor word choice, to accept that your phrase was confusing, and to surrender to another option. That option may not be what the editor suggests, what you at a different time might choose. But another option may be the route toward clearer, tighter sentences.

Another thing I’ve noticed about editing is that it helps the editing process to pause. There is always space between words in a sentence. Even though there’s only one space after periods, it’s still a space worth respecting.

Giving myself time to think through the questions of my editors or to notice my own literary proclivities or to see how many times I use passive voice will make me a stronger communicator. It’ll make me a poet. It’ll charge my words. It’ll engage me, and an engaged me eventuates into a engaged sentence.

“…we make vows…”

Photo Thanks to Ase Bjontegard Oftedal

Photo Thanks to Ase Bjontegard Oftedal

David pointed to this on Facebook. The story, friendship, loss, and tone of Laura’s words are very much worth keeping in front of us.

We make vows to our partners, but we make vows to our friends, too. We think, forever. We think, best friend. Life turns out differently, because people disappoint each other or because we aren’t honest with ourselves or because we just don’t know how to go forward, even with the best intentions. We go in with our eyes wide open and don’t realize they might open wider in five years. So I mourned the end of my friendship…

Read the full post from Laura here.