I’ve been reading from two different sources over the last week or so, and although coming from quite different sources they have much in common. I’m also excited as these two sources support much of what I’ve been reflecting in my comments on professional development in this blog.

Where to start – first off is John Mason, an academic at Open University, UK who has talked about the skill of “noticing”. I don’t have the book with me at the moment, so will just be pulling off what I found on the net in relation to John’s work. The second is a group of academics/researchers/theorists who are focused on understanding self-study.

What caught by attention about John’s writings on noticing? Well he talks a lot about ‘noticing’ and paying attention to what we notice. For example he talks about what shapes our ‘noticing’ – why is a comment said and heard by two people – attended to by one but not the other? What do we do once we ‘notice’. How do we turn ‘noticing’ into learning? This document provides much of the background to his thinking. Some comments I find that I ‘notice’..

“Experience along is rarely sufficient to produce learning”

“Something more is required: the much vaunted and over-mentioned but frequently under-played and under-exploited reflection”

To reflect well – one needs to become aware of your awareness – and it is “the end to which the Discipline of Noticing is directed”.

Mason also discussed the value of narratives and that of intentional noticing. Mason notes that we are constantly bombarded with information – this is ordinary noticing or experiencing. Then he goes on to say that the event/stimulus is sufficient such that we notice it and remark on it to someone else. This he defines as marking suggesting that it takes more energy than just noticing. Then not only do we mark and remark, but we make a note to ourselves that we might regain access to in the future – this is recording and Mason goes on to say this takes greater energy, commitment and assists the individual to move from professional development to research.

So after Mason’s work comes self-study. But not tonight. Hope this has whetted your appetite.. and that you follow up on some of the links I’ve provided.

So the value of the Discipline of Noticing – done well and Mason suggests that we need to learn to ‘notice’ well – then noticing can be used to “turn professional development into research ‘from the inside’, that is, research on your own practice.


Mason, J.H. (2003) Practitioner Research as an Extension of Professional Development Utvikling av Matematik kundervisning I Samspill mellom Praksis og Forskning, Skriftserie for Nasjonalt Senter for Matematik I Opplaeringen (1), Trondheim 02 FV pp. 181-192 Holden, I. (ed.). Retrieved 26 October, 2007 from http://cme.open.ac.uk/JHM_Publications/Trondheim_02_FV.pdf