Communication as the basis of learning: out with debate and in with discussion

As scientists we are taught to be factual and limit personal interpretation. But social scientists aim to understand people and as such doing so without the ability to imagine and be creative [i.e. infer connections between knowledge] is simply unrealistic. To empathise we need to be able to reach outside of our own perspectives and imagine what someone else is going through. But if you are taught to stick to the facts and have developed a rigid mindset [i.e. you feel uncomfortable with subjectivity as an ‘evidence based practitioner’], it is impossible to imagine and thus impossible to empathise and consequently you are limited by your own mindset. We would end up trying to diagnose someone in black and white terms instead of trying to understand them as unique individuals.

Even in the ‘hard sciences’ it has been said by some of the most innovative minds that imagination is so very important to the development of scientific revolutions. yet we seem to get carried away with facts at the expense of possibility. We tend to stick with what we know to be true instead of balancing this with a theoretical extension of what we know [to contribute an extension of fact through inferential generalisations that can subsequently be explored using our beloved hypothetical-deductive scientific method]. I would love to see researchers embrace subjectivity as a way to explore the boundaries of knowledge and extend it, yet accounting for their own biases by seeking consensus through communicative forms of learning. Specifically, we can seek agreement or alignment between each persons subjectivity through debate but we need to create an environment where ideas are appreciated and worked with rather than being used as a currency for political gain [authority through perceived expert status]. Thus, rather than ‘trying to win a debate’ lets start ‘discussing ideas to seek a better mutual understanding’.