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Friday, January 08, 2016

Multiplistic- Thinking checks and balances [IV]

Johnson’s main source Perry (1970) is developmental in tracing a learner's journey from a dualist tendency, through to multiplistic and the third stage which is relativistic thinking. Having related dualistic thinking to Hodges' model, now it is the turn of the multiplistic.

Just as the axes of Hodges' model can be matched to dualistic thinking (followed by the domains), so the model's four care (or knowledge) domains immediately suggest multiple forms of explanation. Reasoning and reaching an understanding about something is what we usually think of as knowledge. The dualistic brought home the actuality of facts. The age of information technology provides a virtual ocean of facts, knowledge, data, information, wisdom. There is the buzz of the advertisers and social media and their influence on what we think and believe. Family, friends, community, culture all have their influence. We recognise the notion of common sense and tacit knowledge. When knowledge is viewed as content (and we avoid the key matter of access) this is a neutral position, but this neutrality changes irrevocably when context is introduced; when questions of ownership, disciplines and the knowledge of individual and community arise. Who knows? How is their knowledge demonstrated? Why should I/we listen to them? Staying with the political domain the further progression to relativistic thinking becomes apparent. There is the view of the doctor, nurse, social worker, allied health professional as an advocate who is not strictly independent and the representative who is.

As the term 'multiplistic' (and pluralistic) suggests the learner develops an appreciation that there is not necessarily a single answer but several. As Johnson (1994) notes, when an answer is provided, even if this is a voice of authority it is not necessarily correct. There is a distinction to be made between there being potentially many answers and many sources for answers.

The same properties attributed to knowledge objective and subjective (dualism in thought and action) also has a bearing here. From: The logic and evidence of a randomised controlled trial; To: the politics of dogma - “Well, this is the way we have always done it!” There are many types and degrees of quality attributed to knowledge. Debate is ongoing about the definition and meaning of bit, data, information, knowledge and wisdom. Is there a hierarchy there? Where would you put dualist and multiplistic thinking in this mix? Is that a valid question? No? Would you reconsider and proffer an answer if (and to follow) the wise amongst us are experts in relativistic thinking?

Bringing multiplistic thinking to a conclusion frequently and routinely demands a consensus being reached and teamwork. Multiplistic thinking and approaches (pluralism) also tends to throw light on constraints that dualistic views might ignore, or by definition have no need to take account of. So dualism can engender bias, even foster blatant prejudice, in comparison to the context of consensual management for example, which is invariably richer, open, continuous and requires self-awareness and awareness of the other. This is not a vote for consensus, to many it is a game and contention often remains.

Decision making as a process and the many ‘logics’ that people try to apply become evident and the varying quality of the same. Communities of practice have their own terminology. As a learner expands their vocabulary and acquires conceptual knowledge they are able to make the transition from novice, beginner ... to proficient learner (Benner, 1984). The aforementioned virtual realm can processes and produces terminologies of its own, so-called folksonomies. This is one of the multiplicities the learner must literally come to terms with. Hodges' model as a conceptual framework and one or more conceptual spaces is ideally suited to support this learning and learning to learn.

Johnson, D.D. (1994). Dualistic, Multiplistic, and Relativistic Thinking as it Relates to a Psychology Major. Honors Theses. Paper 202.

Perry, W. G. (1970). Forms of intellectual and ethical development in the college years. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Benner, P. (1984). From novice to expert: Excellence and power in clinical nursing practice. Menlo Park: Addison-Wesley, pp. 13-34.

Thinking checks and balances [I]

Dualistic- thinking checks and balances [II]

Dualistic- thinking checks and balances [III] (or: The-hyphen)

See also:
Jones, P. (1996) Humans, Information, and Science, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 24(3),591-598.