Adult Education: is this relevant to safe experimenting?

I hear and I forget

I see and I remember

I do and I understand

I reflect and I learn

Those who know my background will be aware of my time in education, as well as my time working as a counsellor and psychologist.

I believe that the approach I project on this website is heavily influenced by my work in adult education as well as in therapy.

That background helps me when I complete any work I do. I can take time to consider what I have learned from being with another person for a while. That’s why some folk end up with an email from me commenting on the results I’ve noticed.

Writing up this website over a number of years has been part of my line four in the revision to a Chinese Proverb I have included, in bold, above.

What are the implications of  this proverb? I believe it can be helpful when some-one completes therapy and is planning what to do next. It may move you into a different way of implementing small, safe experiments.  Consider how the proverb impacts on the practical work we did.

1. You will have heard some of what I had to say. Even if it sounded good, it might still have passed in one ear and out the other.

2. When we saw one another and notice the impact of a small gesture, or just a few words that are spoken, we can be puzzled – within ourselves – and wonder what that was all about. It sticks, at least for a time, and our curiosity may well have been the glue.

3. When you did something such as design and implement your own small, safe experiment, was there some understanding of “how might I change, bit-by-bit“.  What were the first and second steps on what might have been a long and winding road? What are the steps still to be taken?

4. When we examine (or reflect on) the results of a small, safe experiment – and remain curious about the different results – it is possible to go on learning.  This usually involves judging some results ‘right’ or ‘wrong’/ ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – through the experience of small victories and a small defeats. The difficult bit is knowing the difference between the two. What feels ‘wrong’, now, may prove ‘right’ in time to come – and the other way about.

Reflecting on those differences – selecting how to approach each victory or defeat – enables us to walk along a scenic route to change; along a route of our own choosing.

Walking thoughtfully, reflecting on things, can be a slow process; but it helps absorb what I need to know. By practising the ability to slow down, I can make important decisions about what I might do differently, without being tempted to act hastily.

Can you take in both the complexity and the simplicity of the choices appearing on the road just ahead of you? The task continues long after any therapy has been completed.

Return to:


What is a nudge?

How to design a safe experiment

Are you sure they are experiments?

Models of change.