Although the Ladder of Inference model is new to me, interestingly enough, the concept it demonstrates is one that I came across from both a personal and professional direction at the same time a few years ago. In his book Full Catastrophe Living, John Kabat-Zinn explores this human habit relating it to stress and the way we relate to ourselves, others and the world around us. Mindfulness cultivates attitudes and practices that help us stay on the bottom rung of the ladder longer, collecting more objective data. It also develops our awareness of the interpretations that then take place, giving us time and space to make choices before we draw conclusions to act.
On a professional level, at the time I was writing my Master's dissertation which was focused on organisational and individual learning and the inter-play between the two. This took me to the work of, among others, Peter Senge, and some of the theories about adult learning and organisational learning, which again, broke down the process of how we gather data, interpret it according to existing schema and then conclude and act according to that. Which explains why developing collective understanding and commitment in school systems can be challenging even when it at first appears straightforward. I have since been training in the skills and processes of coaching, as I believe these can contribute to the developing awareness and challenging assumptions part of the ladder theory.
Anyway, I find it fascinating - it has definitely changed my thinking about thinking and the way I think in all areas of my life. I''m looking forward to learning more about how it can be further integrated in school improvement work.