2-diffhead.gif (5880 bytes)


Learning Activities Using This Resource Kit:

Forming a Reading Club Using the Material in the Bibliography


Group discussion, or private thinking, to capture key ideas from the evolving field of CAS studies.

When To Use:

Early in your explorations of CAS, but after you and your group have enough knowledge about CAS concepts to have a fruitful discussion. You might start with the Tales that have explicit reflections included already and then move on to Tales that simply relate events and leave the interpretations up to you.

Group Considerations:

Appropriate for any group. Consider breaking large groups up into smaller groups of 4-8 people to encourage more active conversation. But if you do, pay attention to providing appropriate diversity in the groups to assure a variety of viewpoints. Make sure also that there is enough knowledge in each group to assure that there are good reflections from a complexity viewpoint.

Learning Styles:

Reflectors and Theorists will enjoy doing this. Activists and Pragmatists may openly revolt unless you structure the activity to meet their needs (suggestions below). Before engaging in this activity, discuss it openly and actively adapt it until everyone feels comfortable that it meets their learning needs and that the workload is fairly distributed (note: not necessarily evenly distributed, but everyone agrees that the work they have agreed to do is something that they want to do).

The Leader:

Needs to enjoy learning from reading, but recognize that not everyone feels the same. Needs to genuinely empathize with Activists, Pragmatists and Extroverts who might find reading some of this material torturous. Needs to be active in making sure that no intellectual snobbery nor cliques develop within the learning community.

Supplies Needed: Copies of books and articles.


Re-read the sections above and note the tone of caution. Not everybody likes to learn from reading and many of the books and articles of the topic of CAS are heavy material. Although you may be an innovator or early adopter who has personally learned a lot on your own through reading, it is a mistake to simply assume that everyone else must go through the same process in order to learn what you have learned. Be respectful of other's learning styles. Have a good, honest, open, listening-oriented, no-bad-reflection-on-anyone discussion before you engage in a reading club.

Note that you can construct a reading group in a way that meets everyone's learning needs, if you abandon the idea that everyone must do equal work. You could, for example, let those who really like learning by reading take on the assignment of reading the material and presenting to the rest of the group for active discussion, reaction, and application. But, the presenters must agree to keep their presentations short and focus. They must agree to present what the author said so that the group can have the fun of exploring the material and coming to its own conclusions about it. They must agree not to pull intellectual rank on the group by saying things such as "Of course, you could learn more about it if you read the book" or "That point is covered in the book but we don't have time to go into here."

Having said all this, reading clubs can be a great way to learn. Go through the annotated bibliography and select a few books or articles that seem interesting and relevant. Get a copy for everyone and set a plan for how you will go through it; for example, a chapter a week for a book, an article might be discussed in a single sitting. It is usually a good idea to have someone pre-assigned to lead the discussion. This could be a rotational assignment.

The discussion might roughly follow the outline below:

  • What did it say? What were the author's key points? What were the facts presented?

  • What was the most significant for you? What did it mean to you?

  • What can we do with it? So what?

You might mix this activity with other learning activities in a single session of your learning group. Use you understanding of the learning styles of the participants to decide how much time to give to this and what do next to engage and honor those who might have struggled through it because it was not their preferred learning style.

A Peek Behind the Activity

This is a knowledge building activity, pure and simple. It provide more concepts and a deeper understanding that can be used later in reflection on the contexts that the learning group and its members are a part of.

Extensions of This Activity

You do not really need to be physically together to do this activity. Consider forming a reading group with like-minded colleagues in distant cities. You could share insights via the telephone or e-mail. Remember the principle of generative relations-you can never tell what might emerge when a collection of people come together for interaction.

NextPrevious | Return to Contents List

Copyright 2001, Paul E. Plsek & Associates,
Permission to copy for educational purposes only.
All other rights reserved.