On the cusp of action and contemplation: Stephen Downes’ things you really need to learn

It’s 12.18. My working life balance between action and contemplation (a la Arthur Koestler) is alright, so far, but I’d better stop reading and making phone calls soon and get to work on my questionnaire. And paper (give me strength!).

Stephen Downes got under my skin today. I’m a sucker for silver bullets so when I saw his slideshare presentation on things you really need to learn, I went to have a look.

The formula of the presentation is great – what we need to learn (e.g. empathy, communication), how we learn it now, what new technologies allow us to learn it. I found the section on valuing yourself startling – he insists that we repeat to ourselves”I am valuable” as a talisman against “people who say you’re worthless” because otherwise “that’s how your neural connections will form”.

In those alternatives he proposes that we fight conditioning with conditioning – but surely both are to some extent damaging. If you are brimming with self-love all the time are you really capable of objective reflection on your self? Or am I being over-simple?


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