Replying to LO24183 --
Greetings to all you fellow learners.
Do you feel left behind or lost in this topic? This is already my eighth
contribution on it! Think of my contributions as the wake left behind by
an icebreaker ship cutting through the icy crust of being. Perhaps you see
the wake, but neither where it began nor where the ship now is. Perhaps
you see the ship, but fear that its destination will only be further in
the wilderness of the ice cap. Perhaps the whole journey seems to take too
much effort. Perhaps it seems to be a mere illusion like a some richly
I recommend that you will have to begin where the ship departed. It is
LO23887 < http://www.learning-org.com/00.02/0023.html > Work through all
the consecutive contributions to get to where the ship now is. A voyage of
discovery is not like a trip with a regular train, getting on at some
station and getting off at another according to one's own plans. We have
to travel all the way through every strange encounter by experiencing even
what seems to be frightening, rejoicing in the bliss of true emergences
along the voyage.
One of our dear fellow learners wrote to me in private the following:
"Please continue your efforts in being-becoming
midwifery! I am stuggling to understand much of
It describes how I myself felt from about 1977, except that I had to
search far and wide in the literature and got little midwifery. The
feeling intensified greatly since 1982. It is only after 1986 that the
picture began to make sense after some richness has been gained. Add all
the turmoils caused by apartheid and you may get an idea of how great my
But this comment of our fellow learner also made me realise I am going too
fast. We cannot transfer all the experiences of ten years into ten weeks
of thinking. But I do have this intense feeling of urgency -- we have to
reach Aus in good time. (Aus is German for "out" -- see LO24065.) So what
can I do? I will go slower so as to encounter less dangers, but I dare not
paint less rich. Less dangers?
I have walked in more than twenty years many thousands of kilometers in
desert and arid regions. If I were a hunter of animals, I would have
encountered hundreds of deadly snakes. Yet I have encountered only two --
both as a result of walking very fast like a hunter. But when I have to
look for succulents, I have to walk slowly because it is difficult to spot
many species -- they camouflage themselves or their visible part is tiny.
Slow walking gives the snakes ample time to flee because they feel strange
vibrations in the ground and they really do not want confrontation with
the source of these vibrations. But too slow walking towards a friend in
need of caring will not do -- then rather the snakes and whatever they
The comment of the fellow learner would once again have put me in dispair
-- "At, why are you moving so fast", were it not for the following three
sentences much earlier in his letter:
"These people, for the most part, have trouble
understanding that children become, and keep
becoming. They tend to think about childrens' lives
as answering the question "what do you want to BE?"
As if there were some terminal state."
Golden words becoming immortal because of their gold. It is such
untarnished gold which keeps our dear fellow learner on this bewildering
voyage of discovery. He and his wife are the wonderful parents of a son
who is extensively disabled. With care and bravery they are trying to
create every hour of the day an environment which will sustain their son's
becoming, needing the help of "these people". But "these people" have
trouble understanding the need for sustaining becoming.
Dear fellow learners, perhaps many of you also have trouble in
understanding the need for becoming and sustaining it. This is why I have
decided to tell you about some of the "becoming patterns" which I use in
my contributions on the topic "To become or not to become".
I am capable of presenting, contribution after contribution, a logical
account of what "becoming" means to me, following a tree of
one-to-many-mappings fully within me. But in each of them I try to respond
to one (or more) inputs from my environment which touched my spirit. Its
Iike seeing a sharp piece of rock sticking out of a dirt road's surface
like a nail, ready to puncture the tyre. (See LO23954.)
I do not use the "knowledge tree" of the "world-inside-me" to determine
what I have to write on in the next contribution, but the "fractal logic"
of the "world-outside-me". But as soon as I begin to write that
contribution, I have to use all my wits to keep focussing on the "patterns
of becoming". I usually try to pull the "world-outside-me" into the
"world-inside-me". Simultaneously I show how I do it by pushing this
becoming interaction in the "world-inside-me" back into the
"world-outside-me". A few of you fellow learners might recognise the
"chemistry (forward and backward reactions)" in it, except that it now
concerns spiritual matters rather than physical matter.
In some sense it is like the Q&A (question and answer) column so often
found in periodicles. But there are important differences. I try to
respond to the tacit question "behind" whatever articulation (it may even
be formally a statement) touched my spirit. I can also call this tacit
question an "inexpressible sigh". In my response I try to use as soundly
as possible what is for me the keys of Systems Thinking -- distinction
(form) and rhythm (content). I try to follow the three-fold sonata pattern
as far as possible in that contribution -- exposition, development and
The "inexpressible sigh" will concern something which I may symbolise by
K. What I know about that K has the value marked by K(2). What the fellow
learner knows about it will be marked by K(1). Thus a DIFFERENCE between
us two exists given by
[K(2) - K(1)]
It might be an entropic force, but then we will first have to make
sure that the knowledge K is an intensive property. As a result
of the "inexpressible sigh" having touched my spirit, I then allow
information I to flow from me on the screen. This flow of
information can be symbolised by
It might be an entropic flux, but then we will also have to make
sure that the information I is an extensive property.
Trying as hard as I can, I am not able to reason formally and explicitly
that the knowledge K is intensive and the information I is extensive. I
can only offer my intuition that it is the case. Hence the expression
[K(2) - K(1)] x /_\I signifies APPARENTLY an entropic force-flux pair. If
my intuition is wrong, then it will not be the case.
I then use this apparently entropic force-flux pair in the sense of
[K(2) - K(1)] x /_\I > 0
which is an order relationship of becoming. I use this principal
"becoming pattern" to create the particular contribution, trying
to follow the all the other "becoming patterns" explained in the
previous paragraphs. Unexpectedly, sudden flashes of poetry
or music will surface within me while writing the contribution.
All this "entropy production" in "becoming" and "being" has a
considerable drain on my spiritual "free energy". This drain is
also experienced by our fellow learner when he wrote about a
6 hour meeting galantly caring for disabled children:
"At the end of yesterday's meeting, I felt there was
an enormous chasm in front of me and I felt a
I also feel "an enormous chasm in front of me". All my work
in the previous contributions which have enabled me to
formulate the order relationship
[K(2) - K(1)] x /_\I > 0
concerns merely my becoming as a teacher. It does not
concern YOUR becoming as a LEARNER. I can argue until
I am blue in the face that it also concerns my becoming as
a learner, but I cannot ever use these arguments as the reason
why it also should apply to you. Each of you will have to learn
self whether this order relationship of becoming applies to you
as learner or not. How will you do it?
Traditional education tells us that you have to use rote learning
so as to memorise and write the formula
(1) [K(2) - K(1)] x /_\I > 0
and tell how each of its parts are defined. In this particular case
it will be
(2) the order ">",
(3) the one-to-many-mapping of "X > 0",
(4) the knowledge difference [K(2) - K(1)],
(5) the information change /_\I,
(6) the intensiveness of K and
(7) the extensiveness of I.
In other words, you will have to invoke rote learning seven times
to begin learning "how to learn".
Then your learning will have to be enriched by learning objectives.
They will have to cover all the classes in some or other taxonomy
of learning objectives to ensure such an enrichment. For example,
in the taxonomy of Bloom and coworkers the objectives will have
to cover the following six classes:
(1) formalising existing knowledge
(2) comprehension of formalised knowledge
(3) application of comprehended knowledge
(4) analysis of applied knowledge
(5) synthesis of analysed knowledge
(6) evaluation of synthesised knowledge.
Should we apply this taxonomy to the formula above, you will
need 7 x 6 = 42 distinctive objectives to get the rich picture of
"how to learn", i.e. of learning as a becoming. We may also
use some other taxonomies (like that of Gagne). Each will lead
to a similar staggering outcome, all the result of beginning with
rote learning. Let us restrict ourselves merely to Bloom's
Now, should you pay for the training "how to learn" and subject yourself
to a formal qualification procedure, the costly certificate at the end may
motivate you enough to meander through this staggering tree of objectives.
Should this expensive certificate not motivate you enough, you may even
allow the system to force you during the training by task and test
schedules to keep up the pace. Some of you may actually obtain the
certificate, itself a "being" signifying a "becoming"!
However, assume you want to learn "how to learn" outside the formal
educational system FOR SOME DIFINITE REASON. I will soon offer some valid
If you do want to begin with rote learning as you were used to in the
traditional system, then you will first have to find a textbook for an
existing course to work through. This text-book will serve as the
tree-of-knowledge focussed on "how to learn". You will have to master
every new concept (structural or procedural) taken from that text-book by
designing your own objectives using a taxonomy as indicated above. Perhaps
the text-book will supply some excercises for you, but you will have to
make sure that these excercises cover all the taxonomic classes so as to
ensure a competant (rich) mastering of "how to learn".
Unfortunately, paradigm shifts change fundamentally the way in which even
the professional experts are thinking. It happens in every subject of the
entire academical spectrum. It may even happen in knowledge on learning.
Should one use a text-book (tree-of-knowledge) based on a past paradigm,
then one will still have to make the paradigm shift to the present
paradigm. This causes an immense modification of the past learning
(beginning with rote learning as step 1 and ending with evaluation as step
6). This modification (sometimes called "unlearning") will be almost as
vast as the original learning. Such modification of past learning is even
worse during an actual paradigm shift because the modification then has to
be frequently modified itself as the shift proceeds to completion.
Finding a formal education system which keeps up with every paradigm shift
in each of the subjects in which it offers training is a very rare event.
This is especially the case with any shift concerning "how to learn" since
so much learning has to be changed in every subject. For example, Bloom's
taxonomy (1956) caused a moderate paradigm shift in rote learning. It is
now 44 years later. How much have any of you fellow learners experienced
any "taxonomic" evaluation of your learning in the subjects which you
enrolled for? Do you know what a "taxonomy of educational objectives"
means? Do you use any taxonomy in your own facilitation? This slow
response to paradigm shifts is one valid reason for learning outside the
Economic, political and social events in a country may make it suddenly
impossible for a system to adapt to the changing environment so that the
system degrades rapidly. Sometimes these events had been foreseen in the
country like in South Africa with the remarkable report of a commission
headed by prof Pieter de Lange of the Human Sciences Research Council.
But the very formal system of education did not operate like a CAS
(Complex Adaptive System) and thus the system is now failing afterwards.
Sometimes these events cannot be foreseen because of a natural disaster
beyond our contemplation. This is another valid reason for learning
outside the system.
The way in which humans commute (travel or communicate) may also change
drastically. Think of how the opening up of air travel since WWII left
many countries behind. Most of them are now known as "third world
countries". The opening up of "cyberspace" (Internet) is leaving them even
further behind. Meanwhile many residential universities in first world
countries which thought before 1990 that they were safe, are now forced to
make changes -- often too little too late to sustain themselves in
cyberspace. The higher the rate of commutation, the faster innovations
appear in many unexpected fronts. The system fails to keep track of the
increasing complexity as the external forcing becomes stronger. This is
another valid reason for learning outside the system.
A last reason for learning outside the system is that it lacks notoriously
any compassion for people involved in some or other way in the system.
There is very little caring for the dignity of humans and the civilisation
values of humanity. Opportunistic greed may soon distort the civilisation
in a country and open up a vast deluge of corruption. The formal
educational system does not have any safegaurd against such immergences.
Thus the learner cannot be accommodated for whatever learning he/she is in
I have given you four reasons with arguments why we may need to learn
outside the formal system of education. Perhaps you can add some more or
even shoot down some of those I have given. About 90% of human population
over the globe will find at least one these reasons as valid for learning
outside the formal system of education provided in their country. Thus
they are pretty important reasons to most humans.
However, our dear fellow learner who has written to me in private has
given a "reason" which surpasses all reasons backed up by arguments. He
and his wife have a disabled child whom they LOVE without any reserve and
for whom they will CARE whatever it takes. And with CARING LOVE they
managed to discover wisdom true and good that
"that children become, and keep becoming"
That CARING LOVE is the "reason" why our fellow learner will keep on
learning of BECOMING, even despite all the reasons to the contrary. Love
is stronger than all reasons for conforming to any system.
Let us be so banal as to try and symbolise the caring love L
of these parents by the value L(2). In similar fashion we may
then simbolise the value of the love exhibited by people satisfied
with the formal system of education by L(1). It is the very
DIFFERENCE [L(2) - L(1)] which drives our dear fellow learner
to scrutinise what flows forth from me on screen because of the
order relationship of my teaching, namely
[K(2) - K(1)] x /_\I > 0
Is it therefore not perhaps the case that he is self driven by a
"becoming pattern" which can be formulated as
[L(2) - L(1)] x /_\C > 0
Is love really intensive, meaning that it is invariant to scaling
changes in a person. If it is the case, then what is this
mysterious FLOW /_\C of an extensive property symbolised
The learner seems to become non-spontaneous sooner or later in a formal
system of education. Non-spontaneous learning means that the learner
cannot learn self any more. Hence the learner has to be forced and
controlled by the system to keep up this non-spontaneous learning. Thus
the system draws immensely on all sources of "free energy" to deliver the
work for sustaining such non-spontaneous becoming. In terms of merely a
monetary budget such a system becomes very expensive.
But there are also "hidden" costs which should have alarmed us much more
would we have cared enough. Caring parents and teachers are the first to
collapse physically or spiritually as a result of what our dear fellow
learner calls a "tiredness unfamiliar". If they are fortunate they end up
in some institution which can care for them as "beings" who have become
disabled. They cannot "become" self any more in body or mind after a
destructive immergence. But many are less fortunate and soon end up in
death which will eventually take care of us all.
When learning outside a formal system of education, we cannot
rely on any external motivation coming from the system such
as a certificate of an outcome (a "being"). In fact, we will only
proceed on the road of learning, especially on "how to learn",
as far as the "free energy" (inner motivation) of each of us in
body and spirit will allow us. Since our "free energy" will become
depleted by every "becoming pattern" of the form
[X(2) - X(1)] x /_\Y > 0
we will have to learn how to fill it up again. Some of that we can
each manage self by our "dassein" (individual) creativity, but the
rest have to made up by our "mitsein" (collective) creativity. In
other words, we each can care self for some of the "free energy",
but for the rest we each need the CARING LOVE from other
Jesus said: "Do unto others as you want them to do unto you."
If we need caring love from others, let us love them caringly
first as He has set the example. Such caring love follow the
"becoming pattern" which I have foolish enough dared to
[L(2) - L(1)] x /_\C > 0
Bur I rather never should have expressed it formally. It is far
better doing wisdom true and good than telling it, even with
Whenever a major paradigm had shifted in the past, some of the doing had
also been in the telling. But I keep wondering if humankind have not
finally reached the age where telling does not make sense anymore with all
languages as they are at present. In other words, I wonder of we should
not keep silent because we do not have any language at present, natural
like English or technical like mathematics or HTML, to speak with on what
we ought to do. In that case telling with Internet in cyberspace will be
of little help.
Let me illustrate what I mean. Devastating floods have spilled a couple of
weeks ago over the northern parts of South Africa and adjacent countries
like Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mocambique. Many places in these countries
could be reached only near the end of last week and some are still cut
off. Reports of miseries which defy the imagination have been reaching us.
But since the end of last week new heavy precipitations have fallen in the
very regions which cannot absorb a drop of rain any more. Every drop is
thus channeled into rivers still flowing over their banks. I have phoned
some of my friends who could still be reached by phone. At Messina they
have had more than 300 mm (one feet of rain) since last Saturday. All this
water will collect in lower regions like river valleys. If 90% of a region
does not become river, the river itself will rise with 3 000 mm (ten feet
rise in water level). If these regions fed their water to regions like in
Mocambique closer to the sea having only 10% of their surface, the water
level of rivers in the latter regions will rise with 30 000mm (hundred
Go outside your house and try to find objects higher than hundred feet.
See how little safe places you have where you can care for yourself.
We still do not know how wide spread and intense the new wave of rainfall
is. Thus we cannot predict the extend of the second wave of catastrophies
which may be following up the first wave of the past few weeks. But we
know through telling that Internet has millions of users connected to it
and that millions of dollars are invested daily in it. We also know that
much telling in word and picture have reached the world on the tragedy
happening in Southern Africa. But is the people stricken by the first wave
of catastrophe who know how little doing has reached them. Telling means
nothing to them.
What "becoming pattern" does this doing of aid have to take
to help the people totally disable by the floods? Is it not
[L(2) - L(1)] x /_\C > 0
the very same pattern which our dear fellow learner and his
wife follow to care for the becoming of their extensively disabled
child? How much will you learn about "how to learn" if you
are driven by any similar "becoming pattern", but of lower
order than the highest order of one-to-many love L?
Please, take care and make sure what "becoming pattern"
you follow in your own learning. In need not to be expressed
by the mathematical form
[X(2) - X(1)] x /_\Y > 0
For example, the pattern expressed by the Ten Commandments
work very good for many people. The patterns expressed by
the Systems Thinking of a LO works also very good for the
few people fortunate enough to belong to a LO.
Whatever the "becoming patterns" which you follow, merely tacitly or even
formally, make sure that they are powerful enough to sustain your learning
as well as other becomings through thick and thin when the traditional
systems fail so that the going becomes tough.
With care and best wishes
At de Lange <email@example.com> 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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