EDEV_505 Week 1_5

I joined this course precisely because I knew (or rather, felt) that my thinking was weak, my research skills were underdeveloped and that I had little experience with creating large-scale intellectual projects. Without knowing exactly, or needing to know, what the final outcome of this training would look like, or how my personal qualities would change after the exposure to this course, I did expect to witness change as a direct result of doing this Ed.D. I expected that change to be visible in two ways through two types of curricula: training would produce better academic skills (hence the discussions on critical thinking, how to evaluate evidence, understanding organisational structures and missions and so on); and somehow the experience of this course would effect in me some qualitative attitudinal change that led me to approach life’s expediencies in a more ‘doctoral’ manner. Textual presentations are necessarily linear, but you and I and the students in this cohort are able to comprehend the non-linearity of simultaneous, overlapping and at times conflicting tensions during the processes of education. Humans can be trained and experience education at the same time as enact personal growth during training.

There is an old Chinese story of a man called Lim. He was a lowly peasant who wanted to understand the Buddha’s meaning. His supervisor asked Lim to sweep the leaves off the floor of the entrance to the temple. As soon as Lim did this, the wind came in and upset the leaves. He was made to redo the sweeping. He did, and the wind again destroyed his efforts. This cycle repeated many times and Lim became angry at the supervisor. But Lim was made to continue. Reluctantly, he did as he was told, then suddenly, Lim realised the meaning of impermanence. With this realisation, it is said, Lim became enlightened.

This first week has seen many posts between us. I think that this is good because there are so many issues that deserve a good discussion. And I agree with your implicit statement that discussion should only focus on the disagreements for productive purposes. I’d like to finish with another difference that could be informative in our continuing cleaving of values.

Deductive reasoning as an epistemic base has been shown to be incomplete; the action of collecting evidence that forms the basis for the deduction is itself a value-laden activity (Moses, J. & Knutsen, 2007). Conversely, inductive reasoning is hazardous because it is based on a limited understanding of the totality of possibility (Moses, J. & Knutsen, 2007). Pierce offered a method of pragmatically overcoming these extreme positions through his abductive reasoning (Rolfe, 1997, but Moses & Knutsen call this “retroduction”, p. 179). This is the iterative process of applying and testing conclusions against premises until a satisfactory solution is found in light of what is pragmatically most likely in that situation. For some, abduction is acceptable; for others, it is not (Rolfe, 1997). Likewise, deduction and induction have their proponents and opponents. This understanding helps separate an author’s sense of value regarding evidence-based or pure theorising, and leads to the epistemic questions of what to value and why and the role of intuition and other epistemic methods when appraising evidence or theory.

Personally, I cannot read works like Morgan’s “Images of Organization” (1997), or Nonaka and Takeuchi’s “The Knowledge-Creating Company” (1995), or many other business theory works without crying out “More evidence, please!!!” However, I do appreciate the role of theorising and the need for imagination.


Morgan, G. (1997). Images of organization. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Moses, J. & Knutsen, T. (2007). A constructivist philosophy of science. In Ways of knowing: Competing methodologies in social and political research (pp. 165–196).

Nonaka, I., & Takeuchi, H. (1995). The Knowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rolfe, G. (1997). Science, abduction and the fuzzy nurse: an exploration of expertise. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 25(5), 1070–1075. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2648.1997.19970251070.x

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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