May 2009


1936 presentation copy of Mein Kampf
photo credit: fortinbras

Are some words so dangerous they must be locked away?

The world needs heroes and it’s better they be harmless men like me than villains like Hitler.

Albert Einstein

The question is currently an issue of fierce debate in Germany where a leading historian has called for Adolf Hitler‘s anti-Semitic screed Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”) to be published openly for the first time since 1945. It is available for sale in Britain and the US, as well as through the internet, yet many people still object to the idea of it appearing in bookshops in Germany, the birthplace of Nazism.

It’s an understandable concern, but misplaced. Banning Mein Kampf only lends it a glamour it does not diserve. Making it freely available would remove its mystique and enable more Germans to discover for themselves quite how appalling this book is.

It’s not only evil, but badly written, repetitious, anti-factual, rambling and turgid, the testimony of a furious, self-pitying failure with a slender grasp on reality. Publishing Mein Kampf would demonstrate that Germany has reached the point where it can look on the evil of Nazism with a confident disdain instead of a lingering fear.

What you can do

Read Mein Kampf. Make-up your own mind, however realise that:

Democracy and censorship have never been happy bedfellows. Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are democratic principles intrinsically linked to a functioning egalitarian society.

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Do you want to learn more faster? Well you need to determine your learning style. Here’s how ….

learning-cycle

An interesting post over on Zen Habits prompted me to dig out my occupational psychology notes, specifically those to do with effective learning.

Leo is an advocate of the “just do it approach”, but that may not always be appropraite.

Consider, for example, the David Kolb model based on Experiential Learning Theory, as explained in his book Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development

Our learning style is a based on your preferences in approaching a task and how you respond to the experence.

So do you prefer gaining new information by thinking, analyzing, or planning (‘abstract conceptualization’ – ‘thinking‘) or through experiencing the ‘concrete, tangible, felt qualities of the world’ (‘concrete experience’ – ‘feeling’)?

Then do you prefer to watch others involved in the experience and reflecting on what happens (‘reflective observation’ – ‘watching’) or just  ‘jump straight in’ and just doing it (‘active experimentation’ – ‘doing’)?

According to Kolb’s model, the ideal learning process engages all four of these modes in response to situational demands. For learning to be effective, all four of these approaches must be incorporated.

As individuals attempt to use all four approaches, however, they tend to develop strengths in one experience-grasping approach and one experience-transforming approach.

The resulting learning styles are combinations of the individual’s preferred approaches. This adds additional dimensions to the basic cycle presented:

learningcycle

Learning Styles

These learning styles are as follows:

  1. Converger;
  2. Diverger;
  3. Assimilator;
  4. Accomodator;
  • Convergers are characterized by abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. They are good at making practical applications of ideas and using deductive reasoning to solve problem
  • Divergers tend toward concrete experience and reflective observation. They are imaginative and are good at coming up with ideas and seeing things from different perspectives
  • Assimilators are characterized by abstract conceptualization and reflective observation. They are capable of creating theoretical models by means of inductive reasoning
  • Accommodators use concrete experience and active experimentation. They are good at actively engaging with the world and actually doing things instead of merely reading about and studying them.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Diverger

Tracks VergeStrengths

  • imaginative thinker
  • uses own experience
  • looks at situations from many different perspectives
  • brings coherence to a mass of information
  • sees relationships between things, grasps the whole picture
  • wide-ranging interests
  • good at listening and sharing
  • likes to get involved in the experience/information directly and then reflect on it
  • enjoys brainstorming and generation of ideas/altematives
  • likes social interaction/discussion/group work
  • aware of people’s feelings
  • wants to see the whole picture before examining the parts

Weaknesses

  • frustrated by action plans
  • waits too long before getting started
  • easily distracted
  • can be too easy going
  • sometimes indecisive
  • cannot see the trees for the wood
  • forgets important details
  • only works in bursts of energy

Assimilator

ASSIMILATEStrengths

  • precise
  • good at creating theoretical models
  • very thorough
  • sets clear goals
  • enjoys ideas and thinking them through
  • analytical, logical
  • interested in facts and details
  • applies theories to problems/situations
  • good at bringing different theoretical viewpoints to critique a situation
  • examines facts carefully
  • likes collecting data
  • sequential thinker
  • specialist interest
  • avid reader
  • uses past experience constructively
  • sees links between ideas
  • thinks things through
  • well organised
  • plans in advance
  • enjoys didactic teaching
  • happy to rework essays/notes
  • works well alone

Weaknesses

  • needs too much information before starting work or giving opinion
  • reluctant to try anything new
  • likes to do things in a set way, lets go of the past reluctantly
  • gets bogged down in theory
  • does not trust feelings, trusts only logic
  • needs to know what the experts think
  • overcautious, will not take risks
  • not very comfortable in group discussion
  • does not make use of friends/teachers as resources

Converger

Hit The RoadStrengths

  • practical application of ideas
  • decisive
  • integrates theory and practice
  • enjoys solving problems in a common-sense way
  • likes to try things out
  • feels happiest when there is a correct answer/solution
  • draws references from experience
  • good  at using skills and tinkering with things
  • focuses clearly on specific problems
  • able to see where theory has any practical relevance
  • moves from parts to whole
  • thorough
  • works well alone
  • goal setting and action plans
  • strategic thinking
  • knows how to find information
  • gets things done on time
  • not easily distracted
  • organises time well
  • systematic notes/files
  • reads instructions carefully

Weaknesses

  • intolerant of woolly ideas
  • not always patient with other people’s suggestions
  • resents being given answers
  • tends to think their way is the only way of doing something
  • needs to control and do it alone
  • details get in the way sometimes, cannot see the wood for the trees
  • not good at suggesting altematives/lacks imagination
  • getting the job done sometimes overrides doing it well
  • not concerned very much about presentation of work
  • needs to know how things they are asked to do will help in real life

Accommodator

Danger, Will Robinson!Strengths

  • testing experience, trial and error
  • committed to action
  • very flexible
  • wide-ranging interests
  • enjoys change, variety
  • willing to take risks
  • looks for hidden possibilities and excitement
  • not worried about getting it wrong by volunteering/asking questions
  • gets others involved
  • learns from others, quite prepared to ask for help
  • gets involved in something which sparks their interest
  • uses gut reactions
  • often gets right answer without logical justification
  • wants to see whole picture before examining the parts

Weaknesses

  • tries too many things at once
  • tends not to plan work
  • poor time management, leaves things till the last minute
  • not very interested in details
  • does not check work or rework it
  • jumps in too quickly without thinking things through
  • sometimes seen as pushy.

Which learning style are you?


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