Synergy, hermeneutics and simplicity

Synergy, hermeneutics and simplicity is at the heart of my thinking, my advocacy and my ideas for learning and supporting performance.  I think it will be difficult to be understood without making what this means more explicit.

Synergy – On 4-2-09 I posted an idea (How to Think:) drawn from the blog of Ed Boyden from MIT’s Media Lab who wrote: “Synthesize new ideas constantly. Never read passively. Annotate, model, think, and synthesize while you read . . . ”    Creativity is essential to success and nothing supports creativity more than the synergy that comes from synthesizing ideas in new ways.  It is also at the heart of learning.  New knowledge must be integrated with existing knowledge to make sense and this often requires synthesis.

Meaning Making (Hermeneutics) – Our brains and sensory systems can process an enormous amount of information, but it’s all chaos (psychologist William James’ buzzing blooming confusion) until we make meaning out of it.  Meaning is not a given, it is a human and a learned (for the most part) achievement.  Like synthesis, creating meaning (hermeneutics) is also a basic skill needed for successful practice.  When I advocate for measurement, it is as a tool for making meaning.

Simplicity – In my 3-19 post, Writing to Tame the Chaos I advocated for simplicity in academic writing that communicates beyond one’s disciplinary silo.  With the help of Cunha & Rego (2008), I would like to extend simplicity as a general approach to practice in my next post.  For now I will just comment that synthesis and meaning making are supported by simplicity.  Science can be very complex.  Think, statistical path analysis, double blind random controlled trials, and item response theory in test construction as examples.  But, all these ideas grow out of a relatively simple idea of science.  Create a model to account for observations, develop a hypothesis and collect evidence to test the hypothesis.  You may decide that a path analysis is appropriate to your context, but attempt to return at every step to the simplest most parsimonious understanding.