Friday, April 23, 2010

Observe and be observed

Studying this course has led to this realisation: many things are about observation.

According to Wikipedia, to observe is to receive knowledge of the outside world through senses. Concur?

Most of us would. But observation is much more than that, I reckon. To receive that knowledge does not suffice. Good observation, in my opinion, also includes good analysis of that knowledge and thoughtful application.

To observe is to be alert to what is happening to who, when and how (gosh, all this reading up on research methods is really getting to my head....). Let me illustrate:

You are at the food court waiting in line to order some food. While waiting, you watch a young child holding her cone of chocolate-flavoured ice-cream. What do you really look at? The ice-cream and the way it melts? How the child chooses to finish her dessert? Does she bite into it or does she lick it gracefully? Is her mouth covered in ice-cream? Do you look at what she is wearing? Is she standing or sitting down on a chair? Is she in a pram or is she perched over a shoulder of her caregiver? Or is that her mother, aunt, a close family friend? Her nanny, her neighbour? Her cousin? Is she so engrossed in it that she is oblivious to everything else around her?

You get the gist. So, after having observed all that, what do you do with all that information?

Assume? Make informed judgements?

Does that not make you think of yourself? The things you do and say?

I guess the example above does not fabulously represent life in general. Or does it?

We, being self-centred homosapiens with the primordial instinct of defense, very conveniently forget to not just observe the world around us, but also ourselves. In addition to that, we almost always fail to remind ourselves that we are also being observed by the world.

There was a display in mum's childcare centre many years ago that read: Behave, you are on display!

Most would think that it was for the children. However, we used it more for the teachers and carers working at the centre. I used it for myself, reminding myself to be a good role model for my students (I thank the heavens that I still have students who look up to me and ask for suggestions to certain issues). I also applied it to my everyday life but noticed that I constantly fall short of what I set out to achieve.

Observing is a skill that can be developed. I pride myself in skillful observation of human behaviour but haha, totally suck at the application of those observations. In summary, I still have a long way to go with making the world a better place for myself.

More observations of others and self-reflections perhaps?

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