The Psychology of Dilemmas

I spent today working on a second (and hopefully near to final) redraft of Chapter 2 and Chapter 6 of the second edition of my Dealing with Dilemmas book.  For some reason the first edition has suddenly jumped about 400,000 places in the Amazon Bestsellers’ List to 59,618th!!!  JKR watch out.

The new edition uses the same framework of three complementary perspectives to analyse what lies inside a dilemma – psychology (cognition, emotion and learning), politics (power, culture and relationships) and ethics (values and morality). This time there will be a diagram to illustrate (I hope).  The draft is not particularly elegant but hopefully Dunedin Press will have a better design (!).

dilemmas graphic

The second edition has to be with the publisher by January 5th 2013 and I’m running out of time!  Full days tomorrow and Friday should get Chapters 3 and 4 into close to final shape.  There may need to be a little more work on Chapters 1 and 6.  It’s close to ready.

The book looks at the world through the experience of the daily dilemmas that challenge those in leadership positions of different kinds in our schools.  Today’s chapter considers the psychology of dilemmas.  People looking at a dilemma select different bits of information and interpret or make sense of them through different ‘schema’ or interpretative frameworks.  These tend to be situations where there are intense emotions involved and these emotions affect the way  in which people frame and understand the events.   However if individuals approach the dilemma with an open frame of mind, willing to learn – to learn about others, to learn about themselves and to learn about the issues – then the dilemma may be resolved positively.   Schools should pay particular attention to the inherent learning possibilities in dilemma-type situations.  However it is not enough to consider these psychological aspects of dilemmas.  Political and ethical dimensions are also necessary to gain a rounded view of what is going on.


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