Learning and Disciplining LO26367

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Date: 03/16/01

Dear Organlearners,

Greetings to all of you.

In this contribution I want to write on something which seems to have been
confusing for ages among many cultures. It all began with my granddaughter
Jessica who had to give at school a speech with the Afrikaans title "Is
tug goed vir kinders?" An English translation would be "Is punishment good
for children?"

It struck me as strange that our word "tug" (which can be translated by
punish, chastise, discipline) acquired such a different meaning than the
English word 'teach' since both evolved from the same ancient Germanic
word "tacean". This word meant "to pull by a harness". It struck me as
even more strange that the English word 'discipline' evolved from the
Latin word "discipulus" which meant 'pupil'. The word 'discipline' itself
acquired divergent meanings in English. For example, John Knox used it in
the sense of 'a law for order'. Sir Walter Scott used it in the sense of
'a scourge for penance'. Many academics used it to refer to an essential
subdivision of a subject.

Jessica wanted to know how much "tug" had to do with "liefde"=love. So I
searched for "tug" in the concordance for the Afrikaans Bible and found
such a connection in for example Revelation 3:19. It reads in the King
James translation (from the letter of Christ via John to the pastor of the
church in Philadelphia) as
. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.

I began to wonder what the Greek word is which was translated by 'chasten'
in English and "tug" in Afrikaans. I began to read the New Testament in
its original Greek text.. Again I was much surprised because the Greek
word used is "paideuo"! The stem of it is used in modern English words
like 'paedology' (the study of children) and 'paedophile' (sexual
perversion for children). The Greek word "paideuin" was used for 'to
instruct children' whereas the Greek word "didaskein" was used for 'to
teach adults'.

I began to recall how immensely the teaching of adults ("didaskein") and
the instruction of children ("paideuin") differed in those days. The
"didaskein" was voluntary and gentle, employing free and educated men as
teachers. But the "paideuin" was compulsory, done by slaves (and women) as
instructors who often self were subjected to harsh treatment. In the
"didaskein" failures were followed up by additional learning, but in the
"paideuin" failures had to be avoided otherwise punishment was invoked. In
the "didaskein" the endeavour was to become an educated citizen whereas in
the "paideuin" the goal was to deliver a skilled worker. In the
"didaskein" rights played a fundamental role while in the "paideuin" the
focus was on responsibilities. The higher levels in an organisation
advanced along the "didaskein" whereas the lower orders had to follow up
by way of the "paideuin".

It was then when it struck me how complex the reformation task of Jesus
was. It even encompassed education. In Luke 18:15 the disciples rebuked
the parents who brought their babies to the "didaskalos" (Jesus as
teacher) to be touched by him. But in Luke 18:16 the teacher told his
disciples not to prevent the "paidia" from meeting him. He specifically
uses the word "paidia" (children as learners) rather than the more common
"tekna" (children as family members). The disciples had to guide these
"paidia" attractively rather than repulsively. In Luke 18:17 he declares
to his disciples that they each can only enter the Kingdom of God as a
"paidion" (learning child).

In a flash which left me dizzy I began to understand within the Western
Civilisation of today the roots of its ambivalent, if not dialectic,
management of education in particular and society in general. In the
"didaskein" learning was disciplined with predominantly constructive means
whereas in the "paideuin" learning was disciplined with predominantly
destructive means. As a result we even have the ambivalent meanings in the
word 'discipline' as noted above. For some the word discipline signifies
promise, attraction and reward whereas for others it signifies curse,
repulsion and punishment.

Let us now question how much of this ambivalence in Western Civilization
is inherited by even the science of organisational management. Do we
manage organisations constructively by disciplines as for example in
Learning Organisations with the five disciplines enunciated by Senge? Or
do we manage our organisations by taking disciplinary actions against
members whenever they fail to meet prescriptive performances? Do we direct
them by passion for constructive accomplishments or by fear for
destructive retaliations? Are our interactions with them (in the
biological sense) anabolic and symbiotic or are they rather treated
catabolic and antibiotic? I am beginning to think that the profound
accomplishment of Dr E Deming was to help the Japanese people transforming
themselves from the repulsive side of this ambivalence in management to
its attractive side. Perhaps, as a result of a reversal and hence their
recession, they need such a transformation once again.

Many people of the world shake their heads when looking at the destructive
events so common in all the walks of life in Africa. The peoples of Africa
try to manage their affairs and discipline themselves with destructive
rather than constructive means. But it was not always like this. It came
into practice since the advent of colonial rule. The colonial rulers were
immensely ambivalent. They organised themselves with the edifying valence
of discipline, but organised their colonised subjects with the degrading
valence of discipline. The colonists learned self by way of the
"didaskein" whereas their subjects had to learn by way of the "paideuin".

Colonialism seems to be something of the past, but it is not. The rest of
the world is indeed concerned with the abundance of destructive events and
scarcity of constructive events in Africa. Once again they interfere in
the management of African societies. But how? By helping them to master
those disciplines necessary to self-organise according to their own
culture? Or by taking disciplinary actions against them whenever they seem
to disorganise themselves in terms of western models? Colonialists once
empowered Africans by transferring power to them and taking disciplinary
actions when this empowering aborted. This threatening and retaliation by
disciplinary actions still happen today to a large extend. Only rarely are
the peoples of Africans allowed to self-organise themselves according to
the conditions of Africa. Thus the sales of arms (tools for degradation)
to African countries dwarf the sales of books (tools for edification).

People at large believe that creativity is something which can be only
beneficial. It is difficult for them, if not impossible, to become aware
that their creative outcomes can be either constructive or destructive. It
seems that they want to idealize creativity so as to escape from this
ambivalence in the daily management of their lives. Such an escape is not
possible. We should rather question the hottest problem of our times: How
can we discipline our learning by seeking passionately the constructive
pathways of creativity rather than by avoiding the destructive pathways of
creativity based on intimidation?

Two thousand years ago the solution of the problem was clearly set out by
Jesus through his teachings and solved through his ministry. This made him
unique in at least the classical civilizations. As he and those close to
him became historical figures of some previous century, the ambivalence in
the management of state, church and the rest of society began to cloud his
teachings and even replace his ministry with their own practices.
Consequentlu the dark ages set in.

However, after more than a millennium, books became available once again
through the invention of printing. The Renaissance was inevitable.
Artistic writers began to take up the task of solving what has become a
problem once again -- how to construct society spontaneously rather than
destroy it by forcing it with disciplinary measures to comply to dogma. It
began with the gripping plays of William Shakespeare, setting a standard
which few could reach. It took a long time for the epic drama of Johann
Goethe and the inspiring novels of Victor Hugo took the lesson further.

Did these artists of the word succeed in terminating this ambivalence in
the management of human organisations? No. Jesus pointed out clearly that
it had been with humankind since time immemorial and that it will be with
humankind until the end of this dispensation. I also do not think that
these artists intended to terminate this ambivalence. They rather tried to
make us aware through their creative imagination that this ambivalence
exists in all kinds of organisations. They wanted to tell us this through
their heroes and villains as well as that we also have to make a choice
whether we will act with grace like free humans or retaliate like slaves
used to punishment.

Is story telling by plays and novels the only way to become aware of this
ambivalence which compels us to choose between positive and attractive or
negative and repulsive guidelines. No, writers are the first trying to
articulate their tacit knowledge by imaginative fiction which is
indistinguishable from factual events. But they are not the last because
they pave the way for other creative problem solvers to follow like
scientists. So what can do about this ambivalence in the management of
organisations? How can we help each other to choose with insight between
its attractive valency or repulsive valency? What kind of future will our
choice lead to?

I think that the first breakthrough was made by Jan Smuts, the father of
holism (increasing wholeness). Already at a young age he was deeply aware
how increasing wholes is the driving force behind evolution. He understood
the relationship between holism and evolution better than anyone else. Yet
he struggled to comprehend the struggle between the divine which edify and
the demonical which defile the human personality. But eventually he
understood that wholeness even accounts for the difference between the
divine and the demonical. Whereas holism (increasing wholeness) helps us
to evolve from the demonical to the divine, fragmentation reverses this
spiritual transformation. Wholeness beckons the personality to love as the
greatest attractive force in the spiritual world whereas fragmentarism
forces the personality into hate as the greatest repulsive force.

In the "didaskein" wholeness guide the learner to sublime spirituality
whereas in the "paideuin" fragmentations are used to give learners a taste
of spiritual death. Holism (increasing wholeness) affords direct
experiences which are beneficial whereas reductionism (decreasing
wholeness) results in detrimental experiences through which a person ought
to infer by logical negation what is beneficial without having experienced
it. This logical inference of what is beneficial from what is detrimental
becomes a grave fallacy whenever the logic itself suffers a lack of
wholeness. In other words, even our rational thinking has to comply to
increasing wholeness.

Is wholeness unique in guiding us through the ambivalent nature of
learning's discipline? In his Fifth Discipline Peter Senge makes a
curious, yet crucial disclosure in its appendix. Here he explains how the
five disciplines of a Learning Organisation are the manifestations of
combinations of these eleven essences. One of these eleven essences is
nothing else than wholeness! In other words, wholeness is not unique in
guiding us to steer a course through the ambivalence in organisational
management? How many essences do we need? Is the eleven of Senge

Edmund Husserl used the concept essences in his phenomenology long before
Senge. Whenever any phenomenon (system) is denied one or more of its
essences, that phenomenon ceases to exist. A phenomenon emerge
constructively because of its essences as the sufficiency condition for
its existence. When merely one of these essences becomes impaired, the
phenomenon will immerge destructively. Husserl advanced the method of
eidetic reduction to discover such essences. Think away an essence and
imagine whether the phenomenon will still exist. Think away your heart and
imagine whether your body will still live. Think away your creativity and
imagine whether your spirit will still live. Think away one of Senge's
essences of a Learning Organisation and imagine wether the LO will still

A question which neither Husserl nor his followers asked and answered, is
whether we can exhaust the essences of any phenomenon by identifying them
one after another. In other words, can we learn all about the essences of
a phenomenon by discovering them sequentially by a fixed procedure like
eidetic reduction? Do we honour holism in such a sequential approach? I
followed a different strategy by discovering the essences of any systemic
phenomenon in one complex approach. This led me to the discovery of seven
essences, not more and not less because of the very nature of the
discovery. That is why I call them the seven essentialities of creativity
to stress the uniqueness of their discovery.

Since wholeness is one of these seven essentialities, will the other six
help us like wholeness to manage the ambivalent nature of organisational
management? In other words, are they the key to what we might call "double
loop management"? I have no doubt that they will help us to learn in what
ways constructive leaning differs from that "learning" which uses
destructive experiences as a whip to force learners to those constructive
guidelines which ought to have been experienced n the first place. To
learn by forcing with curse, repulsion and punishment is immensely
inferior to learn spontaneously what sponsors directly promise, attraction
and reward.

These seven essentialities help us to learn why management was and will be
ambivalent. They are all reflected in the complex formula expressing the
Law of Entropy Production (LEP). The entropy of any system is an
indication of the system's organisation, whether it be structure or
process as well as order and chaos. When the entropy of a system changes,
it means that its organisation will also change. The system's entropy can
increase by importing entropy reversibly from its surroundings or by
producing entropy irreversibly within the system. The resulting increase
in entropy has to be manifested as an increase in organisation.

Only when each of the seven essentialities is at the requisite complexity,
the system's organisation will increase in order, extensively
(quantitatively) as well as intensively (qualitatively). It means that the
system's evolution into greater complexity is highly contingent. However,
should one or more of them be impaired, the system will automatically
immerge destructively into lower orders. In other words, the manifestation
of the increase in the system's entropy itself is the origin of all
ambivalence. This manifestation of increasing entropy into destructive
immergences is common whereas its manifestation into constructive
emergences is unusual. Entropy production leads to disciplinary actions as
the rule whereas it will only lead to guiding disciplines as the exception
to the rule.

When a system relies on the irreversible production of entropy within it
to change its organisation, the result is called self-organisation --
autopoiesis. The system produces about as much entropy as what it can
handle by virtue of the seven essentialities. In other words, irreversible
entropy production becomes the discipline of the system. But when a system
relies on the reversible importation of entropy, it may be inundated with
far more entropy than what it can handle. In that case the extra entropy
will result in disciplinary measures against the system since the system's
seven essentialities cannot handle such an overload of entropy. To
summarise, entropy production is the necessary condition for a system's
evolution whereas the seven essentialities are the sufficiency condition.

Finally, I have to admit that my own insights are like the one swallow
which cannot make the summer. We will have to learn, each in manner
suitable to the self, before we can act accordingly to our understandings.
We will have to join the Personal Mastery of each of us through Team
Learning so that a LO can emerge by which we will steer a sound course
through the ambivalence of organisational management. Learning is never
without discipline while disciplining is always ambivalent in nature. Bear
in mind that within the hirarchy of the organisation those members in the
lower orders are accustomed to the "paideuin" whereas those in the higher
orders are accustomed to the "didaskein". If you want the lowers orders to
follow the "didaskein", teach them by the "didaskein" which they do not
know rather than the "paideuin" to which they have been exposed too much.

We either act spontaneously by love as our strongest discipline or we are
driven by fear for disciplinary actions against us. Let us seek for
attractive rewards with as little repulsive punishment as possible rather
than reward by punishment.

Allow me to point out how extremely contagious this ambivalence of
management is. It go as far as even making God the ambivalent manager of
Creation. Some believe that God is Love while others believe that God is
Revenge. Sadly, many have ceased believing in God because of this
seemingly ambivalence in God's management of Creation.

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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