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Have you ever tried to convince yourself you’d act a particular way in a given situation only to later find yourself in this position and taking a different course? You may purport to hold beliefs that would govern your actions and guide you down one path or another, yet realise that in reality, what you would actually do is something else, entirely.

Shocked by the hike in public transport fares that came into effect on January 1, perhaps you jump on a train without touching on your Myki, taking your chances with Metro’s ticket inspectors. You decide – honest citizen you are – that if you’re unlucky enough to be caught, you’ll fess up and give the officer your details, ultimately acknowledging there’s a small chance you quite literally, will have to pay the price. But, you’re feeling lucky. The likelihood of an officer jumping on board your carriage in the middle of the day is low, and you’re wearing your lucky pants, so ‘let’s rebel and defiantly assert a position against the rising fares’.

Only two stations later, three officers are there, ready to dock you a couple-o-hundys. But, instead of speaking out against the hike while simultaneously remaining a good and honest Melbournian, you jump to say you were rushing for the train and simply had no time to Go Directly Pass Go and Collect $200, or pass the Myki machine at your home station.

While this example may be somewhat unrealistic, the principle holds. The path of action you would like to think you’d take is what Chris Argyris calls your espoused theory, the theory of action to which you give allegiance. However, what governs your actions in reality Argyris names your theory-in-use. If the consequences of your approach match your intended outcome, the theory-in-use is confirmed. But, Argyris proposes that if consequences are unintended/do not match/work against your governing values, they can be viewed as part of single or double-loop learning.

In coming to understand these theories, I drew on the Networked Media blog and came across a post by my tutor that led me to a former student’s comprehension of the same work. Combining my own extensive dot-pointing from the reading with the explanation on my peer, I will explain single and double-loop learning like this:

  • Single-loop learning exists when things are taken for granted and where strategies for managing error remain within governing variables.
  • Double-loop learning involves questioning the governing variables themselves, and subjecting them to scrutiny, thus allowing space for alteration and a shift in the way strategies and consequences are framed.

Here’s a diagram that might help, as really, a picture is worth a thousand words:

Argyris' Double-Loop Theory

Argyris also proposes two models that describe features of theories-in-use that either inhibit or enhance double-loop learning:

  • Model I involves making inferences about another person’s behaviour without checking whether they are valid, and is shaped by an implicit disposition to winning and avoiding embarrassment.
  • Model II includes the views and experiences of participants rather than seeking to impose a view on a situation, is dialogical, encourages open communication and participation, and emphasises common goals and shared leadership.

According to Argyris, Model II increases the likelihood of double-loop learning while Model I inhibits it. Furthermore, he asserts most people will espouse Model II. Argyris then contextualises the models using Organisational Learning Systems, and proposes Organisational II Learning System (O-II) as preferable to Organisational I Learning System (O-I), where the former seeks to maximise client participation with a methodology based on rationality and honesty over the latter, (self-reinforcing, inhibiting, defensive, and acts against long-term organisational interests).

Perhaps, what I will take away from analysing these learning theories, the size of these loopholes and the models above, is the importance of noticing how open we are to change, how we deal with unintended outcomes, and a greater understanding of the extent to which our values actually govern our actions as opposed to the extent to which we espouse them to have done.

Happy learning.

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The word ‘buffet’ can only mean one thing…

You know you’re from Melbourne when:

  • You’ve spent Christmas day in the scorching heat, summer rain, and winter wind without having to leave your humble abode (and possibly all on the one Christmas)
  • You have no idea there is another ‘football’ final this weekend
  • You’ve experienced the fascination with Degraves St before realising there are equally as good if not much better cafes in other haunts around the city
  • You struggle to find a bookshop other than Dymocks and Readings
  • Your school excursions included at least one if not multiple trips to Sovereign Hill, Melbourne Zoo, Melbourne Museum and the IMAX
  • You hate mykis
  • You hate the train but you hate the bus more
  • You think St Kilda has a beach
  • You’ve spent family holidays somewhere along the Great Ocean Road
  • You holiday regularly in Queensland
  • You’re pretentious about Melbourne’s food and coffee scene
  • You endorse the city’s rivalry with Sydney
  • You connect with people by asking what school they went to
  • You understand the North/South of the river divide
  • You’ve never even considered having a dip in the Yarra
  • You’ve experienced water restrictions but have taken the longest showers anyway
  • There is always a new restaurant, cafe or bar to explore
  • Your childhood included trips to Smorgy’s (RIP)
  • And The Royal Melbourne Show
  • And the Drive-In
  • You refer to ‘our’ Cate, Rove, Kath & Kim, Hamish & Andy, Gotye, Kylie, Danni (to a lesser degree), Missy, ONJ, Bert and Geoffrey, regardless of whether they were born here, lived here once (for a day), or live here now
  • You know the difference between a good market and a tourist market
  • You’ve taken guests to parts of the city you’d never venture to alone such as the Aquarium and Luna Park
  • CHADSTONE
  • You appreciate multiculturalism (well, at least  you SHOULD)
  • You enjoyed and sent around the ‘How many (insert your school here) students does it take to change a lightbulb…’ chain email
  • You have no knowledge of rugby, soccer, or any kicking sport that doesn’t involve a silly shaped ball that bounces funny
  • You’ve been to the Australian Open during your summer holidays come rain, hail or shine
  • You know Ramsay St rules over Summer Bay any day
  • You live, love and will die in black
  • You don’t understand the novelty of trams
  • You consider your city to be European, and therefore more classy than any other Australian city
  • Knew who Steve Bracks was before a few weeks ago (and that he has a ‘model’ son, pun intended)
  • Wore a uniform to school
  • Have taken ‘fitspo’ pics at the bottom of the 1000 steps
  • Have been to Moomba/The Comedy Festival/any other of the million festivities our city hosts each year
  • Acknowledge that while 40 degrees is uncomfortable, it is not the worst it can get
  • You went to Buller, Lake Mountain or Falls for winter sports
  • Get confused as to the proper name of that station after Flinders St on the Loop (is it Spencer St or Southern Cross?)
  • You hate Docklands
  • You relish 10 minutes of sunshine
  • You have been to The Rooftop Bar/Cinema/The Toff/Cookie and can empathise with anyone needing a good drink and a lie down once getting to the top
  • Eat Yum Cha
  • Eat Frozen Yoghurt
  • Love Able and Game’s gifts and cards
  • There are only two acceptable pastimes for December the 27th – shopping or shouting (at the MCG)
  • You have been to the Races or at least appreciated the long weekend they bring
  • You turn off the news before the weather report
  • You worship Collingwood
  • Or Father Bob
  • Or WOULD if it meant Collingwood would lose their next game
  • You know Woolworths is actually just Safeway in disguise with some sheep
  • You can’t get a job, buy a house or afford rent
  • But will always be able to find new and exciting ways to spend your dwindling supply on money on the weekend
  • You use the underground tunnel that goes from the Belgian waffle place to the centre of Flinders St station
  • You have had Italian on Lygon, Chinese in Chinatown and something Middle Eastern on Sydney Rd
  • You went on school camp to the Murray
  • You know what and where The Edge is
  • You can say you live in the world’s Most Liveable City 

Player Two: The train arrives at Diamond Creek Station at 7:02 and leaves less than a minute later. Cherrie recognises the remnants of the recent Diamo Fair that have left their litter-filled marks across the oval and the local area. McDonalds is already buzzing, each blue-collar tradie getting his morning fix of Bacon and Egg McMuffin to chew on as he hygienically chuffs his cig at the same time, that signature blend of a flat white with a dash of bacon-y dope.

 

Cherrie’s made sure the kids lunches were done the night before. After a big barbeque weekend with too much off too little spent on fairy floss and cheap show rides, leftovers are piled into slices of wonder white sandwiches slathered with Flora margarine and Coles salad mix. We make do in the Taylor household. Mr Taylor is one of the aforementioned tradies and he runs his own life, and as it seems to be increasingly, his own finances. He brings in what he brings in and he spends it at the races, the TAB, on silly greyhound bets and on drinks and grub. Add tobacco on top of that and thanks-so-much-for-contributing-to-the-family, Billy.

 

But having the family over on the weekend was nice. Big family, close neighbourhood, big families within big families living in big courts and big (cheap) standard housing. You get more for what you pay for out here. Why else do you think we chose out here?

 

Leftover pulled pork with mustard and salad greens for Danny, still young enough to actually eat the lunch his mother packs him. Johnny wants four dollars for a Four-n-Twenty meat pie from the tuck shop. I told him those four dollars will be coming out of his weekly pocket money and the response is always just the same ‘yeah yeah’ and is gratified, when it never does. Katheryn likes vegemite on wonder white but I try and put in some pulled pork on the side to give her a bit of a midday protein hit. She needs it at her age. So young, still growing, so vulnerable…

 

But up at 6:30, out of bed after one snooze at 6:35, a quick dressing routine into casual flats and a black business-y-looking Savers suit and an Up & Go on the way out the door. Strawberry flavour today. She’s up at the station in time to add another $10 to her myki pass and settle into a forward-facing four-seated allotment, ready with her iPod in ears and phone in hand incase one of the kids has a crisis on the way to school and need her helps figuring out whose lunch is whose, where the clean undies are or something of the sort. 

Player One: To get in the car to drive to the station to find the park to buy the ticket, to top up the myki to touch on and get on the train at 6:54am, Jack gets up at 5:50am. He’s an early riser. Catches a whiff of the fresh, mountainous air and he’s out of bed. His wife, Lydia, sleeps idly by, a housewife with a life as far from his as any could imagine. Who knows how she keeps herself occupied during his time at work? Jack sure doesn’t know. Sure, when the kids were younger and at home she at least had driving duties – to soccer, to the slumber party, to the calisthenics club based at the Eltham YMCA. But, now? No idea.

 

Up at 5:50. Jumps on the stationary bike for halfa’ at 5:52, breaking a sweat by 6:06 thanks to Les Mills and his pre-programming of a man’s programed morning. Jumps off and straight into the shower at 6:22, out by 6:25. Always one for water saving, especially when you’re living on such luscious land as Jack is. A good 10 minutes are dedicated to donning on a clean, freshly pressed – ah, there’s something Lydia does well during their mutually exclusively-lived lives – navy blue business suit. Pin-striped pale blue shirt and straight, thin, navy tie. Finished off by freshly polished and dusted black Jack London tie-up work shoes. Who said Jack London’s only for the young? Not Jack.

 

In the car by 6:36. Down the long, greenly decadent driveway that circles their semi-mansion before traversing down the long track to the automatic gates at the opening of their private estate.

 

Down the road, a few rights and a left turn. A park, perfectly timed and just waiting for his sparkling Beemer. A perfect trip.

 

A myki topped up thanks to online automatic transfers a la internet overnight works and the briefcase picked up by the door just beside the garage and the car is filled in files and piles of sheets necessary to complete the tasks of the day, just like a CEO of a major rural transportation company should be. Lunch will be provided at desk and a breakfast meeting in the CBD’s lawyerly Queen/Elizabeth Street end at one of the nice newly opened organic constructions. A perfect day, all thanks to the 6:54 from Hustbridge station. 

On the train home from university this afternoon, I boarded a carriage with very few spare seats. I set up shop (read: positioned myself in a corner with The Age) opposite a distinctive group of individuals, who were chatting excitedly with smiles miles wide on their faces. Usually I try to steer clear of noisy groups, whether it be business men, school kids or screaming children, because I like to read in peace and relative quietness. But for some reason, I decided to stay put and have their conversation as a background soundtrack to my travel home.

The train took off and I started to read. But I was soon taken by the conversation this group of people were having. The first thing I noticed were their accents. Each person seemed to speak our mother tongue with their personal flavouring on top. Some were sweetened and drawn out, others spoke in sharp consonant soundbites. One man I found quite difficult to understand, yet another spoke clear and precise English, as if it was a language she’d known from birth, with just a hint of something special on the side. As I studied their faces, I noticed the diverse ethnicities they represented. Of the six people, some were dark, some of Asian heritage, and another appeared to be Middle Eastern. I heard one man speak of his hometown in Saudi Arabia. He was a hardware worker. One woman thought he’d said ‘hairdresser’ rather than hardware worker, and after clarifying his profession through adjectives they both understood, they had a laugh about their mixup. They bonded over their struggle to learn English but their pursuit of it, regardless.

I came to realise that among this group, one woman seemed slightly out of place. She was an Indian woman, significantly older, spoke of navigating Melbourne’s public transport system, and with correct grammar and articulation. She asked questions of the others, and stimulated conversation through these open-ended inquiries. The other members were only too happy to answer, practicing their English and enjoying the interaction and celebrating their achievements in managing to construct appropriate and coherent responses.

They discussed what might happen if they missed their exit station the next time they took the train, alone. The older woman pointed to the map on the train wall behind them, and used her finger to guide them along the line as she explained how to navigate the map of Melbourne. They were to get off at Parliament, today, and the group carefully named the stations before and after their stop, to familiarise themselves with the suburban stations surrounding the city loop.

As the train pulled up to Parliament, what I had thought to be a group of six suddenly ballooned into a group of a much larger scale. The woman turned around and announced to the seats behind her that they were arriving at their station, and to get their Myki’s out, ready to touch off upon exiting the station. As I scanned those I’d previously ignored in the nearby seats, I began to realise what they had in common. I can only assume, but I’m fairly confident, that each of those youthful individuals were new arrivals on our shores. These people were migrants from war-torn countries, others coming from backgrounds of poverty and hardship. Some had left behind their families and friends, and all were making an enormous change in hope of a better life in a land more prosperous and filled with opportunities, than their home.

It was incredible to see how excited they were. They were so full of energy, hope and delight. They were making friends, overcoming obstacles and making the most of what life has given them. And I was able to gauge all of this from about five minutes on a train. Not even speaking with any of them directly. Just overhearing their conversation.

As they left the train and stepped onto the ground at Parliament, my eyes turned back to my newspaper. I scanned the page titled World. Bombings, corruption, hope for basic human rights and democracy, suicide. Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Egypt. Bulgaria, Myanmar, Libya, and Syria. So much violence, and seems so far away. But it’s closer to home than many of us care to realise. We are a multicultural society, and it is so important that we continue to welcome people to our country. They may be escaping, fleeing, or simply looking for a better life. Some will stay, others may return to their homeland. But we should accept people not just for who they are, but because they are who they are. Everyone has a different story, and it is only through sharing these stories that we enrich our own lives and in turn, the lives of others.

These people appreciate what we take for granted, they persevere and fight for their human right to be treated with respect.

So in the midst the politics of 457 visas, stopping the boats, illegal immigrants and the like, maybe what we need to consider is the value of our culture as a melting pot. We should consider the risks people have taken and the choices they have made in coming to this country, and treat them as whole, and special, people. We need to stop treating people like abused animals; herding them, dictating to them,  mistreating them, and start to speak with them, as our equals.

Because that’s the right way forward for Australia. And politicians aren’t doing us, or themselves, justice, if they choose to act otherwise.

Blame Babe Walker: #firstworldpains, #firstworldproblems, #whitegirlproblems. Giving them any such title or category is ridiculously politically incorrect. I hate them but I love them, and I know you do too. Thus, I present to you a list of snags on which we really need to gain some perspective. Tell me your petty pet-hates and watch the list grow. Love you. Mean it.

 

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1. Having to take 100 selfies in order to get one on your correct side from a reasonable angle where you’re not half blinking, have flat hair, a stupid duck face or evidence of your carroty fake tan
2. When your wardrobe is too full and you can’t find anything to wear to uni/work/your friend’s place/the GYM (guys, it’s the gym – you’re supposed to look gross at the gym)
3. Worrying about whether plastic particles from a bottle of Mount Franklin water have plagued the 100% safe, pure, drinking water you are about to consume
4. Not knowing what the weather’s going to do today and thus having to carry around an umbrella, sunglasses and jumper all day and getting to 8pm without needing a single one of them (#melbourneproblems)
5. Not getting out of class early, or even getting let out ON TIME
6. Not getting an HD/A+ on the assignment you did at 2:24am the night before it was due
7. Early morning lectures
8. Expensive (illegal) drugs
9. Purchasing a ridiculously stupid phone cover and having to live with the consequences (me, me, me and me)
10. Having too many things you want to watch on television
11. Not having Foxtel
12. Spending too much time on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest
13. Loosing a game of Candy Crush/Words With Friends/Draw Something/Angry Birds
14. Having to pay 25 cents when iMessage fucks up
15. Having to touch off your Myki (#melbourneproblems)
16. Metro
17. Metro
18. Metro? (#melbourneproblems)
19. Not knowing which pair of Nike Free’s to get/wear
20. Generally having just too much STUFF
21. Cleaning your room
22. Going out all night, through the next day and then being “too tired” for uni/work on Monday
23. Hangovers
24. TOO MUCH CHOICE
25. Air conditioning that is way too cold (Solution: See Number Four)
26. Having to turn down your brightness in order for your iPhone to last a whole day (but seriously, c’mon Apple)
27. Having too many invitations
28. Shops being closed on public holidays
29. Carrying around poo change
30. Thin, scratchy toilet paper
31. The ‘Read’ alert within Facebook messages
32. The demands of internet
33. Not having access to the internet
34. No reception
35. No right turns
36. Hook turns (#melbourneproblems)
37. Not being able to find the cold side of the pillow because you’ve already turned it over too many times
38. Choosing a filter on Instagram
39. Loosing a follower and the pains of having to find out who it was so you can hate on them and un-follow them thereafter
40. Having to get all your friends to un-follow them too
41. Rain and frizzy hair
42. Sun and long hair
43. Shaving/waxing
44. Window washers
45. Door knockers
46. Automated replies
47. Mosquitoes and flies
48. Cash only payments
49. Places that don’t split the bill
50. No lay buys
51. Spending $30 at Savers for six items
52. Notifications/push alerts
53. Lines at clubs
54. People that push their way to the front of the line because they “know someone”
55. PSOs (#melbourneproblems)
56. ASOS (delete the App, your bank account will thank you later)
57. Any site that doesn’t offer free shipping
58. Slow service
59. Punt Road (#melbourneproblems)
60. Bus service replacements on already failing train systems (#melbourneproblems)
61. The last cigarette/piece of gum and the feeling of emptiness that follows

Today I was in the city with friends and money arose as a topic of conversation. How to make money, how much money things are worth, and what we paid for certain acquisitions. One friend had paid $70 for the t-shirt she was wearing. The other was wearing a shirt that he’d cut to suit his own style, supposedly worth $100 at the time of purchase. Food was bought, myki cards were topped up with money for necessary travel into and out of the city, and we were all (of course) dressed and groomed with clothes and styling products/makeup/at-least-shampoo that had cost someone some dosh somewhere along the line, too.

We talked about haircuts. How much to get your hair dyed at a salon? How much to do it yourself? I used to have bright pink, dip-dyed ends on my long (read: extra spending) hair. I don’t know how much it cost because my mum paid for it, but I know that it was a lot. I also know that I had to pay the same stylist to un-dye it when I changed schools to meet the school’s uniform policy. I’ve also dyed my hair on many occasions at home, or with a friend, for a much smaller price. A packed of hair dye might cost anywhere between $10 and $35, depending on the brand. My friend’s hair was dyed currently, and she’d saved herself some money by cutting it and dyeing it herself. Boys, on the other hand, we were informed, needed their hair cut every four weeks, my other friend told us. So while guys haircuts are usually much cheaper, the cost adds up when you take into account how frequent their trips to the hairdresser are. Or how shitty the hair dye you buy from the supermarket is and need to re-dye it after its faded a week after you last forked out $15.

While we were out, one friend wanted to buy a ring, but it was $20 she didn’t have right now. The other told me his iPhone earphones were ‘only $35’. And that’s when it hit me. On January 1st, the Labor government cut the Newstart Allowance significantly, to an equivalent of just $35 a day. The majority of Newstart recipients are single parents (mostly mothers), meaning that not only does that $35 have to sustain one person for a day, it is likely to need to be stretched to support two, or more persons, children with needs, wants and wishes a parent only dreams to fulfil.

When you think of $35 it might not sound that bad right off the bat. But as soon as you start to consider some of the things mentioned above, it disappears without a trace. Hell, that’s without life’s necessities of health care, educational expenses (such as tutoring), extra curricular activities, hobbies, a gym membership to keep you in decent shape, food, rent and other living costs. How one, let alone multiple people are meant to survive on just $35 a day baffles me completely.

Families Minister Jenny Macklin suggested that she could do it. Acting Greens Leader Adam Bandt will actually go on the dole for a week and see how he fairs with such a measly amount. But the experiment, while interesting, will be rather inconclusive because everyone, including Mr Bandt, knows that once his seven days are up, he’ll be going back to conditions that enable him to work, eat, sleep and thrive as a politician and as an Australian not subject to these conditions.

I doubt anyone would choose to live consistently on $35. The unemployment crisis in Australian is again, set to peak, and as a person without a job, the prospects for gaining one are looking slim. Of course, I am lucky to be fully supported by family, but I cannot imagine this news being sunny for anyone. Especially those receiving the Newstart Allowance who are being told it is just a safety net and are highly encouraged to go back to work. What if there is no work to go back to?

So tonight when you are spending money on dinner, drinks, a movie or even on petrol, spare a thought for those that aren’t so fortunate to own a car, to go out to eat, or who can only afford fast food. Without money for formal or organised exercise, or the motivation to better yourself provided by such environments, many will find themselves travelling down a path of chronic disease and ill health… but that’s another story. And anyway, the government and tax payers have got their back, right? Yeah, right.