LO: learning or teaching list? LO24637

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Date: 05/19/00

Replying to LO24574 --

Dear Organlearners,

Meera <ama@tvt.cumi.co.in> writes:

>I try to read all the postings in between working hours and
>somehow the day to day issues for which I need an immediate
>Solution.. take my time .
>I also feel its okay to discuss abstract concepts and high
>fundas. But if it cant help me make a difference to the time my
>employees are putting at the Factory...well its not a prirority. I
>will be a lurker.
>All theory discussed is fine so far as it will make a difference
>in the life of an employee - at work or otherwise.

Greetings Meera,

As I understand it, theory alone will seldom, if ever, make a difference
in the life of any person. In other words, theories alone are virtually
worthless for empoyers and employees alike. Making use of less abstract
and not so fundamental concepts will increase little the value of a

Theory need practice to become valuable. Likewise practice need
theory to become more valuable. In other words, "theory" and
"practice" form a complementary dual which may be called "art":
        theory + practice = art
It is art in the deepest and widest sense and not merely the
"fine arts" which make so much "differences" in life. Every kind of
work has an art which will make it far more valuable.

Learning is for me the key art by which we can transform life so as to
arrive at differences important to us. What about creativity? The more
the creativity taken out of learning, the less the transformation power of
learning and thus the less the "difference" we want.

Can we really decide by reading alone, even done comprehensively, whether
something is valuable or not? Do we not also need some "reflection" on
that reading? What does this "reflection" amounts to? I think that
creativity is central to it. We have to act creatively with whatever we
read so as to make sure what is the value of that which we have read.

We can interact creatively with the reading in two levels. In the one
level we connect the message of what we have read to some activity which
sustains creativity without thinking about creativity per se. In other
words, we employ creativity tacitly in activities such as the dialogue,
problem-solving, game-playing, case-studying and art-expressing. In the
other level we begin to create with the message in terms of what we can
tell other people of creativity. Valuable messages will give a "long
distance" rather than leading soon into a "cul-de-sac" (dead end).

If you give up on this message of mine without putting it into practice,
will you be able to determine its value? How will you put it into
practice? I assume that you are an employer since you speak of your
employees. Perhaps the following will help. I will make use of the
dialogue by submitting the followiing into the LO-dialogue.

Some employers communicate as much as possible with their employees
whereas others try to avoid it as much as possible. Some do it mostly in
writing whereas others do it by speaking (self or through section
managers). Even though we ought to discuss the merits and disadvantages of
these different possibilties, I want to rush to the stage when the
employee gets the message.

How does the employer know that the employee understands the value of the
message? Does the employer expect the employees to follow the message to
its minutest details so as not to devaluate it? Does the employer expect
the employees to have a certain level of learning so as to recognise the
value of the message? Does the employer give the employees (while they are
working) the opportunity to learn what is the value of the message. What
activities are allowed to sustain the learning? Does the employer make use
of feedback loops to incease the implicate value of the next messages to
be given?

Finally back to this topic of the LO-list: is the list for teaching or
learning? Dear Meera, I do not even expect you to read beyond this point
because the thinking will become increasingly abstract. However, there are
actually some fellow learners who are following up my talking (trying to
articulate their tacit knowledge) with their own doing so as to make sure
for themselves what goes for what. What has been very abstract to them is
becoming less so with their own doing. So please be patient with them and

People use many models trying to get insight into the interaction
between teaching and learning. One model is that the
        professional-server <==> lay-client
Another model frequently used in South Africa is that of the
        employer <==> employee
Usually the teacher thinks of the learners as the employees. But
when society undergoes major changes, the learners often claim
that they are the actual employers, thus making life difficult for
teachers who believe that they are the employers.

Whatever model a person uses to get insight into the interaction between
teaching and learning, the perceptions of that person on the model get
imported into that persons understanding of the interaction between
teaching and learning, for better or worse. That is why a study of the
discipline Mental Models is so essential to understanding Learning
Organisations. One general strategy in understanding a particular
interaction is to increase the diversity of mental models so as to phase
out every perception peculiar to every mental model.

However, there is at least one group of perceptions which cannot be phased
out by this strategy of increasing diversity (or the Law of Requisite
Variety as Ashby calls it). This group of perceptions concerns the very
paradigm of the particular activity to be studied. These perceptions are
persistent -- what goes in the refining process comes unchanged out of the
refining process (almost like Jan Lelie's GiGo). Thus in the case of
understanding the interaction between teaching and learning, the
perceptions as a result of the paradigm on which learning is based, will
persist. Only a shift in the paradigm of learning itself will change this
persisting group of perceptions.

For example, I may write until I am blue in the face on what I consider
authentic learning to be, even explaining its paradigm in detail. But
fellow learners who follow a different paradigm will persist in perceiving
me as a teacher-learner in terms of their paradigm of learning. Sometimes
their judgements of me can be very cruel, but it is something which I have
to accept as the shadow to my mission which will always follow it in any
other paradigm than that of authentic learning.

Dear fellow learners, trying to understand the seven essentialities of
creativity -- I have written two paragraphs above "at least one group of
perceptions" in connection to Ross Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety. How
much in common does the "requisite" have in common with "essential"? How
much does the phrase "law of requisite" point to my peculiar construction
and use of the word "essentiality" rather than to essential, contingent,
requirement or whatever synonym you can think of? To which of the seven
essentialities (liveness, sureness, wholeness, fruitfulness, spareness,
otherness and openness) do you think is Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety
concerned with?

I have identified one group of perceptions which will persist despite of
using what we may call the "Ashby strategy", namely those as a result of
the prevailing paradigm. Which of the seven essentialities is concerned
with paradigms? How many other groups of perceptions do you think will
persist too as a result of our mental models when we try to correct merely
one of the seven essentialities like otherness? How will you explain the
difference between perception and understanding should you have to make
use of the seven essentialities in your explanation?

Now for the hottest question of them all, based on your own experiences so
far -- Is it possible to teach and thus learn from such teaching the seven
essentialities in the paradigm followed by traditional education? In other
words, is the best possible teacher not the person self acting within a
Learning Organisation as the "ecological niche"?

Two final questions. What will happen to the person when all the
organisations in which such self-teaching Personal Mastery can happen,
stop functioning implicately as LOs? What will happen in a country when
most of its LOs (perhaps none of them ever even explicated) stop

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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