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KAMLA CHOWDHRY Development of a Practitioner and the Case Method THE OBJECTIVE of this paper is to discuss the development

of "practitioners," i.e., people who practice, administer or execute policies, standards, etc., as distinct from the development of social scientists, i.e., people who know about social systems, theories of personality, organization, etc. The difference is one of emphasis, the practitioner being primarily concerned in applying what the social scientists have discovered to the solution of human problems in organizations of which he is an involved member. Because the understanding and skills required in the application of knowledge are different from the understanding and skills required in the acquisition of knowledge, different teaching and learning methods are considered appropriate in each case. This paper discusses, first, the kind of learning required in the development of a practitioner and; second, why the case method is the most appropriate method for developing practitioners. In developing a practitioner, knowledge per se would not improve the behaviour of people. There is considerable prima facie evidence that the knowledge of psychology and sociology available in books and in the minds of the scientists has not improved, to any great extent, the behaviour of administrators, executives, managers, supervisors, and workers. In developing a practitioner, there seems to be need for emphasizing three kinds of learning: (1) learning to recognize the attitudes and assumptions that we bring to any given situation, (2) learning to ask better questions of our experiences, and (3) learning l conceptual knowledge which provides a framework for clearer thinking about human behaviour. The practitioner or the administrator is involved in the situation he is administering either as a leader or as a member of the group. The main difficulty of the practitioner or the administrator in practicing or administering is his involvement in the situation. Thus, his own norms and ideals of behaviour get involved; the concept that he has of himself gets involved; and his pet theories and ideas get involved. And because all these involvements have a tremendous personal significance, his feelings get involved in a very central way. These feelings need to be recognized, expressed, sorted out, and worked through. There is indeed a very direct relationship between the recognition and working through of one's own feelings with the ability to observe and the skill to deal with the outer world of human beings. How can the practitioner learn to deal with the often uncomfortable, and contradictory feelings which his involvement in the situation produces? The understanding of and dealing with one's own feelings form perhaps the most neglected and one of the most difficult aspects of teaching human relations. Most educational systems seem to be based on the assumption that men don't (ought not to) indulge in feelings, that feelings will disappear when a person grows up, or when he gains more knowledge. But feelings do not disappear; they only go underground and influence the person's perceptions of and relationships with other people. One of the main tasks of the teacher in developing practitioners is to help the students accept the fact that the possession of feelings is nothing to be ashamed of. And although the teacher does not intrude into the private domain of the students, he does not ignore it either. In fact, when it is accepted that feelings are not indecent, many students come to discuss them, especially what they feel about authority, in the privacy of the teachers office. The provision of such opportunities for discussion is also an integral part of the teaching-learning process of developing practitioner or an administrator. For unless such feelings are recognized and dealt with, they will raise their ugly head as facts in the outer world. In pointing out the interrelatedness of the inner and the outer world, of feelings and of facts, the case method, which deals with concrete data (not theories and generalizations), seems to be the most promising method. Further, it is our belief that, before students face and deal with their own feelings and the relationship of these to their perceptions, it is easier and less threatening for them to see the same kind of

relationship in cases about other people. Gradually, however, he learns to relate his own feelings and experiences to the understanding of the cases.

THE CASE METHOD OF TEACHING A case is a description of a real situation, of something that actually happened, and of what actual people said, felt, and did in a specific situation. The case does not contain all the facts (no administrator ever has all the facts), but it contains facts as perceived by the relevant persons involved in the situation. A case has often been described as a "chunk of reality" brought into the classroom for detailed observation, analysis, and decision. It may contain two pages, or as much as 30 pages, or more. Since a case is a report of a situation observed while it is occurring, the test of its quality is the accuracy with which it reflects the situation. A case is not written to present or defend an issue. The focus of the teaching case is the "present" of the case and on the forces at work producing the "present" of the situation. A good case writer does not enter the "skin of the persons" he is describing. He may repeat their conversation, describe their behaviour, and even draw his own inferences of what they are thinking and feeling, but he does not indulge in the fallacy or the arrogance of stating what takes place in their minds. As George Lombard, in discussing "Self- awareness and Scientific Method," has stated, "He [the case writer] may present what he thinks A is thinking, but what he presents remains what he thinks A is thinking, not A's thinking. The strict application of this simple point is of major importance in maintaining the accuracy with which a case reflects an actual situation." In writing a case, the case writer makes detailed observations of the situation and the people involved. in doing so he tries to separate what he brings to the situation from the data he is studying. The difficulty of acquiring an awareness of one's own frame of reference in observing data is great. But without this awareness .the case writer will have difficulty in making relevant and accurate observations of the situation under observation. Lombard, in discussing the importance of self-awareness, mentions that the "skill in handling our relation to the data we seek to study and skills in making relevant observations are related. Both require the inner quality of awareness of self of which I have been speaking. On the one hand, awareness of self increases our capacity or handling ourselves in relation to our data by forcing on us continuous and critical inner appraisal and reappraisal of what we are doing : .n relation to an external reality. On the other hand, it reinforces our capacity for accurate observation by making us conscious of the difference between that which we see (perceived reality) and reality." In other words, the case writer requires the same process of learning as is required in the development of a practitioner: (1) self-aware ness of one's attitude and assumptions, (2) skill in detailed observations and asking of meaningful questions related to the situation, a (3) a framework to think about the data. In teaching by the case method, therefore, the role of the teacher c no longer be that of an expert who passes on his expertise to the students he does not indulge in the luxury of telling his class what is right what is wrong. He does not tell them what to observe and what action to take. Because he understands the difficulty of self-awareness, cause he realizes how facts can be corrupted by one's attitudes and assumptions, and because he realizes how important personal experience is to the person experiencing it, he does not "teach." He does, ho ever, help students to look at their attitudes and assumptions, and he them to reflect and to re-evaluate their experiences. S E L F-A WARE N E S S 0 F ASS U M P T ION S In the discussion of a case, the comments that students make are related to the assumptions and attitudes they bring to bear on the case. So examples are: "you can't really trust people," therefore more control measures are suggested; "workers are lazy," therefore they require cl0 supervision; "young people are arrogant," and therefore they require to be put in their places; "unions are bad," therefore they avoid negotiating as far as possible. In each case, such attitudes are related some of their previous experiences. Thus, the student who mention that "you cannot really trust people" related an incident from his early childhood which taught him not to trust people. As a child he received a piggy bank for collecting coins. When he left for school after his vacation, he left the piggy bank with his mother to look a carefully until his return. But on his return from school, he found the piggy bank broken and his coins all gone. The mother told' that, one day, when his father had required some change, he had broken the piggy bank to get the coins. This incident had left a very deep impression on him. Until this student is able to see how his own experience was influencing his evaluation of other people, understanding an skilled behaviour in dealing with people was not likely to emerge. The difficult task in teaching human behaviour is not telling them what

they do not know about human behaviour, but getting the students to unlearn what they sincerely and genuinely believe about people that is not true. As Roethlisberger has so aptly said, it is not people's ignorance but "what they do know that ain't so" that really gets them into trouble. Another common tendency, while discussing and solving a case, is a hunt for the villain. For instance, some students say that Manager X does not know how to delegate and therefore should either be fired or transferred. Others in the class want to fire the supervisor or the workers. In fact, everyone seems to have a villain to be disposed of. In discussing a case, the teacher does not tell the students whether they should fire the manager, or the supervisor, or the workers, but he tries to focus their attention on the assumptions they are making. A senior manager in a traditional British company in Calcutta saw the young management trainee come to office in chappals. He assumed that the foot-wear was an indication of disrespect to him. Very angry, he told the trainee, "you better learn to respect seniors or else." If, according to the manager's norms, chap pals are not a part of office dress, he will assume they mean disrespect, and anger and reprimand are likely to follow. In this case the manager did not separate his perception from his feelings about wearing chappals to office. He did not see that what he saw was a trainee in chappals, and that it was his feelings and assumptions which made him evaluate the trainee as disrespectful. In the case method of teaching, the teacher's role is to help the students diffterentiate between seeing and hearing things from what he assumes and feels about them. This differentiation is by far the most difficult part of teaching and learning human relations. ASKING MEANINGFUL QUESTIONS In writing a case, the case writer's attention is focused on the here and now. He describes what he sees and hears. By asking meaningful questions he can make further observations about the data. In teaching a case too, the teacher does not ask: Why are things the way they re? Or why is Manager X an introvert? Instead of asking such questions which only lead to conjectures, the Teacher focuses the student's attention on making detailed observations of the situation. For instance, he does not let the students talk about resistance to change, but asks how the supervisor was behaving. When did he talk to the workers, and when did he shut himself up in his office? What feelings are expressed by the behaviour of the supervisor or by the behaviour our of the workers? The questions that are raised can only be answered after a detailed and thorough study of the case. The teachers attempt is to help the student differentiate between facts and inferences If the students learn to make better observations in the case, it is like that the practice of making detailed and accurate observations will be carried into the work-situation. If the students acquire some deg of self-awareness and learn to make disciplined observations, they likely to make better evaluations of the situation and, therefore, like to arrive at better decisions. A FRAMEWORK TO THINK ABOUT DATA In order to observe skillfully, the students need self-awareness on one hand and a conceptual basis for thinking about human behavior on the other hand. Without such a conceptual basis for think' students may miss what is happening and what is being said between people. For instance, a useful way of observing an interaction between two persons or even among members of a small group is in terms Homan's conceptual scheme of activities, of the sentiments and interactions involved. In observing the productivity of workers, a use framework may be to look for group norms for supervisory behavior and so on. Without a conceptual scheme, observations are likely to biased and irrelevant. Accordingly, in helping students to observe more skillfully, we provide conceptual knowledge about social systems, theories of personality, organization, etc. A physician practise his various theories on his patient without talking to him about them Our hope is that the administrator will acquire enough skill to practice the theories he has learnt in the organizational context without pounding them. Too often, if the learning consists largely of acquiring knowledge about theories in psychology and sociology, the administrator, when confronted with concrete data or a real situation, uncomfortable and lost. For the practitioner, theories are a basis better observation, better evaluation, and better decisions.

Summary: The development of practitioners and the improvement of decision making in the field of human relations depend, as we have mention on improved self-awareness, improved skills of observation, and b conceptual knowledge of the behavioural sciences. To consider decision-making as something logical and apart from the personal and s evaluation of persons would be a serious mistake. To bring out multi-dimensional aspect of the administrator's world and the inter- relatedness of his inner and outer worlds, learning needs to be based on concrete data, i.e., on cases collected from the field. Through the discussion of cases the students learn to observe, to diagnose situations, and to reach their own decisions. The role of the teacher is to make them more aware of what their assumptions and feelings are, what they arc perceiving and what inferences they are drawing, and to indicate the complexity and the relatedness of the data. In the case method, each individual can set his own pace of learning, unlearning, and relearning.