Fear of Failure LO24165

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Date: 03/13/00

Replying to LO24142 --

Dear Organlearners

Andrew Campbell < ACampnona@aol.com > writes:

>At, Yes, your rich account of the 'becoming' of Michael
>Faraday struck many chords for me. People who 'know
>better' tell me that 'fear of failure' and 'falling' by association
>is a paramount concern in both learning and living organisations.

Greetings Andrew,

You have touched upon something so important that I have
changed the topic from
"The Lightening Branches in the Tree of Mapping One to Many"
to the topic
"Fear of Failure".

I have learned through my own experiences in nature that fear is a dubious
thing. Fear is sometimes good because it makes me think before acting.
Thus I have managed to avoid many a potential catastrophe. But fear is
sometimes also bad because it "freezes" me into restricted thinking, thus
preventing me from acting and thus progressing.

But as a teacher I have seen what immensely destructive effects
"fear of failure" can have on the learning of people of all ages.
This "fear of failure" can block learning extensively. So what I
have to do as a teacher when "fear of failure" prevents learning,
is FIRSTLY to help the learner bring this "fear of failure" within
the perspective of Systems Thinking. It is here where the seven
essentialities become very important. Consider for example
liveness ("becoming-being"). Sometimes the learner BELIEVES
that "failure" in learning signify the "end" of learning -- only
in knowledge and no "becoming" in it any more.

It has become very important for me to accept that the learner
BELIEVES that something definite will cause that failure. I then
try to help the learner to articulate that BELIEF because in
almost all cases the articulated result points to at least one
and usually the main cause of failure. In most of these cases
the BELIEF is directly concerned with a facet of "deep creativity".
The facet can be its content ("entropy production") or form (seven
essentialities). The learner usually believes that other people learn
without taking that particular facet of "deep creativity" into
In other words, the learner's BELIEF amounts to what I now articulate
as "when people learn they avoid a particular facet of deep
Consequently, when the person tries to conform in learning to
his/her BELIEF, failure becomes inevitable.

The first step is to help the learner in articulating that BELIEF.
The second step is to help the learner articulate why he/she has
assumed that "when people learn they avoid a particular facet
of deep creativity". In virtually all the cases the learner tells that
the formal System of Education suggested this assumption.
The essentiality liveness used as example above, is impaired
by the method of promotion from one level of a course to another
in the System of Education. For example, a fail mark rather than
a pass mark in a chemistry course entails that the learner
cannot proceed THROUGH THE SYSTEM to a higher level in
that course until the lower level has been passed.

The third step is to provide the learner with additional information
of people who became famous (like Michael Faraday) because of
something particular which they did -- something which contradicts
exactly what the formal System of Education seems to suggest.
Thus it has becomes very important to me to know which people
in the history of humankind have excelled in any particular facet
of "deep creativity". I tell the learner about some persons who
excelled in terms of the facet which he/she assumed rather played
no role. I then urge the learner to read more about these people.

The fourth step is to leave the learner alone so that the particular
BELIEF can be modified by an emergence to the contrary. The
emergence of beliefs, even the rectification of a belief, is a
spontaneous, autopoietic event. When I look up the learner after
some time to see how he/she is responding, I often find that
the learner has proceeded from worse to worser failures rather
than turning the tide. It is then when, as a teacher, I feel worsest
because it seems to me that I have failed the learner. Often I feel
like pulling out all my hair, groaning "At de Lange, why did you
with your superior knowledge not took control of the emergence?
Why do you belief that these facets of deep creativity are so
essential? Are this person's continuous failures not a clear
indication that you are wrong yourself to the detriment of the
person which you are supposed to teach?"

But almost just as often the person will eventually respond with
an emergence which even dazzles me. It will be bliss for me to
observe the generative adjoints in that person. I then investigate
my own failure. Usually it was because I was too impatient, my
survey was too simplistic or my own understanding of "deep
creaticity" was not mature enough to manage the particular

The few cases where the fourth step do fail, leave me in dispair.
Sometimes I can see where I have failed in earlier steps. But
sometimes I can clearly see where both the learner and I failed
because of a System of Education outdoing our individual efforts.
It is then when my longing for the System of Education itself to
be transformed into a LO becomes most intense.

Your story

>This is the story of a little 'real' boy called Boris.

is vivid. The teacher failed exactly at the point where:-

>She then turns to the class and says, ' Well, who can tell
>Boris what the number is?' A forest of hands appears, and
>the teacher calls Peggy. Peggy says that four may be divided
>into the numerator and the denominator."

She tried to make use of peer pressure to force little Boris
into an emergence. The rest of your story about Boris, you
and the old oak tree shows that Boris is quite capable of very
deep emergences.

What the teacher should have done, is to find out exactly
why Boris could not provide the correct answer. Furthermore,
the source of this information should be Boris and Boris alone.
I suspect in terms of what you have told us a serious impairing
of the essentiality spareness ("quantity-limit"), an anxiety for
entropic forces driving bifurcations at the edge of chaos and
a possible destructive loop between these two facets.

Andrew, you express pure wisdom with:

>In order not to fail most people are willing to believe anything
>and to care not whether what they are told is true or false.

But my dear friend, reality is complex. Some people may fear
the very failing of truth -- rationality. Thus they are willing to
anything true and not to care not whether what they are told is
good or bad.

One step deeper is that LEM (Law of Excluded Middle) may not
be applied to distinguish between dual cases such as either true
or false as well as either good or bad. This happens whenever the
mapping is not one-to-two, but one-to-many.

Andrew, you also write:

>To be successful in our culture one must learn to dream the
>dream of failure. In the United Kingdom we have made a 'fine art'
>out of this process /?/ practice.

I wonder if dreaming the "nightmares of failure" is a "fine art" in
merely the UK? It is certainly a "fine art" here in South Africa too.
With all what have happened the past twenty years, the message
has now become rather clear here --
        if you do not fit into our system, you will fail.
First it was the system of apartheid. Now it is the system of

Systems Thinking (ST) is one of the five disciplines of the LO.
One of the most important topics to be handled in ST is
"What becomes of the person who does not fit into the present
system of the organisation" Is that person doomed to failure?
Should a learner fear failure because the learner does not fit
into a system?

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <amdelange@gold.up.ac.za> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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