I find meaning in conversation. Some find it in writing. I do too. Some find it in watching or listening. I do too, and my preference is for the latter. But all of these activities carry more meaning when enriched with conversation. I am happy to listen to a lecturer, but more so if they try to engage me in conversation. Conversation is instant feedback, it’s palpable. Conversation can lead to a fight. It can lead to a transaction. It can lead to intimacy. For homo sapien, conversation is natural selection.
Internal Conversation is synonymous with reflection, I think. It is asking yourself and attempting to answer, but also attempting to mentally propagate that answer. I reflect on a class I took recently: At first I hated the class format. It is run as a tutorial. Minimal teaching. Usually I like that. Self-directed learning. With a bit of help. A bit of class conversation to stir up your settled thoughts and a bit of nudging your own self to think of questions to ask; To self-advocate. The assignments very reasonable: A draft survey. Attend and engage. A Proposal (the bulk of it), and a critique of a colleague’s proposal. Oh, and a presentation of our own proposal. All in that very order. It is course design but with intention.
Continuing my internal conversation: Draft a survey. Easy enough. You think you can bullshit part of it sure, but really, you can’t. There is a whole science to it. How you ask a question objectively, what you need to define as to avoid ambiguity. How you bold the text. How you annotate. The use of shading to highlight different items. It is a mini design project. It’s like the excel of qualitative and quantitative inquiry. It brings some order to the chaos of research questions.
A presentation can be better when it is a conversation, or more subtly, when it has the intention and effect of spurring conversation. I wanted to give a presentation like that. I thought it was my chance at redemption. I, unknowingly, dramatized the course. I created internal motivation perhaps. I submitted what I thought was an incomplete proposal, but I also knew what it was missing. A lot of us are so self critical, it literally makes us stagnate. But I didn’t just know what it was missing, I even learned more of what was missing through critiquing someone else’s work. And reaffirmed what I did well. Through giving feedback. I wanted to take it up a level. The presentation was just to present my proposal. I thought, why not present what it is, and what it become after only one week of reflection and critiquing another’s.
So, here’s to reflective conversation. With a cup of coffee cradled in the hand of course.