Appreciating unprofessional conduct

In Part Three of Playing the Contrarian Game, I mentioned the practice of "Authentic Positive Thinking". Also known as Appreciative Inquiry, it regards both "good and bad" as good or both "positive and negative" as positive. To do this, it takes seeing how good comes from bad or how everything is a little of both: good and bad.

This morning I've been pondering how the emerging eLearning profession needs more unprofessional conduct (in the good sense). To help you understand how unprofessional conduct could be beneficial, here are several examples from other professions.

When a doctor fails to prescribe the necessary medicine or misdiagnoses symptoms, his/her unprofessional conduct instigates a lawsuit. When a physician becomes a healer who abandons surgeries and pharmaceuticals, s/he is considered unprofessional by malpractice insurers. When patients are healed by holistic remedies, nurturing relationships and dramatic shifts in mental states, the unprofessional conduct is proven to be beneficial.

When vendors fail to deliver the support documentation, return the customers phone calls or honor the warranty, their unprofessional conduct is unacceptable. When vendors tell a customer what they really need is a low cost alternative, their failure to sell the product appears unprofessional. Yet trust is built by looking after the customers' interests that may result in larger contracts in the future. Considering low cost solutions may prove to be more cost efficient or more effective in the long run for the customer.

When classroom teachers fail to insure that students are learning, their unprofessional conduct may result in termination. When teachers defy the imposed standards and accountability measures to honor the unique needs of each student, the conduct appears unprofessional. Yet the students who benefit from the teacher bending the rules, accommodating their differences and supporting their faster or slower tempo -- learn more in that classroom. Those students are more likely to become self-directed life-long learners who's curiosity and creativity were not killed by schooling.

There is much evidence of problematic unprofessional conduct among instructional designers, like Will Thalheimer's consistent test results. Yet there are many benefits we are exploring to unprofessional conduct in giving control to the learners, cutting out the middleman and becoming politically radical. When we can see the value in unprofessional conduct, we can see the problems with professional compliance. That is practicing appreciative inquiry or authentic positive thinking.

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