Replying to LO27027
At 05:48 23-07-2001, Sensaru@aol.com wrote:
>one cannot learn something you already know.
That's a very interesting comment. And it suggested me a lot of thought.
At first it seems quite evident: "one cannot learn what one already
knows". But is this true?
I have noticed that Doc Holloway already commented that maybe we can
"learn to know it better". But the point I would like to make is a
different and complementary one.
I think that when analyzing this kind of questions one has always to go
back to the understanding of both knowledge and learning...
I have already said some time ago (when discussing "unlearning") that I
have some problems with the "definitions" Rick Karash sent more than once.
Anyhow let me begin with his words:
(...) I use "knowledge" as the capacity for effective action and
"learning" as increasing knowledge, that is, increasing capacity.
If knowledge is the capacity for effective action, whenever we "know"
something but we fail to act in accordance with what we know, do we really
know what we think we know? Or, on the contrary, we must say that we have
an "espoused knowledge" (an espoused model) that is in disagreement with
the way we act - hence in disagreement with our knowledge (with our "tacit
knowing") about that same thing?
(If we know, for instance, that "the guru's literature is discrediting the
management literature" why are we unable to act effectively to stop the
situation? That's only a small example and not a very important one. I
think the question is much more general and justify some further
So maybe if we review what we think we know, we may become able to really
begin knowing it or maybe we will discover some errors in our knowing. In
the limit, maybe we will discover that we don't know (effective action)
what we think we know. So I would think that, in some cases, we can learn
by reviewing what we "know".
But my point with Rick's understanding is that, even if that is not
clearly stated in the definition, the idea of learning as an increase in
knowledge seems to assume that learning is a natural progression -- one
will learn more or better things and that is an increase of knowledge.
That is a good explanation for single loop learning (or Piaget's
assimilation process, or Khun's normal science). But, in double loop
learning (or in Piaget's accommodation process or in Khun's scientific
revolutions) one has to change the governing variables and, indeed, the
mental models and paradigms one uses to see reality.
When one has some knowledge, which in the past allowed for effective
action (or so it was assumed) but the action derived from it is no longer
effective (or not so effective as it needed to be in new circumstances)
one comes to a particular situation where what is needed is NOT a
continual increase in knowledge - the old paradigm must de REPLACED by a
new and some times contradictory one.
Whenever a "profound paradigm shift" is needed, a "conversion" from one
world view to a different one, the emergence of a new mental model, the
main problem is the fact that we have learned the old model and it is
still in place inside us and doesn't allow us to understand and accept the
new one. The old model we learned so well prevents us to create or even
understand the new one. Indeed we have "overlearned" the old model. And
the old (false or obsolete) knowledge is similar in every aspect to real
Hence, one has to unlearn the old mental model previously, or at least
simultaneously, with beginning to being able to see the new one. That is
the reason why before "creative emergence" one so often fells he is in
crisis, maybe even close to a "creative destruction".
For a person (or for a group of people) that "profound paradigm shift",
that "conversion process" (like in St Paul's conversion - one day he
persecuted Christians; the following day he was a Christian himself - is a
difficult process and the idea of learning as an increase of knowledge
doesn't seem enough. And a "profound paradigm shift" is what "metanoia" is
all about. The word transformation is not adequate, in my opinion, as it
can be applied to any other transformation - like the quantitative
increase in knowledge.
[We can transform a house by building some new rooms; but we can also
destroy the house and build a completely new one - transformation applies
to both cases; metanoia - supposing the house was a person or group - only
applies to the second case)
Pavlov's dog has learned to salivate - how will he be able to unlearn that
and learn a more effective behavior?
Khun criticized the "continuous view" of scientific evolution and showed
that what is normally called a "scientific discovery" is much more that
that. He showed, for instance, that what is normally referred has the
"discovery of oxygen" is indeed a completely change of paradigm in
chemistry, namely in relation with combustion. Lavoisier created an
"oxygen theory of combustion" and after that the "phlogiston theory of
combustion" could no longer be considered valid. Unfortunately, for years,
Pristley's old mental model of combustion didn't allow him to accept the
new model - nor to accept the "discovery of oxygen".
We "know" a lot of things - some are right, and some are wrong - and
normally we are not able to distinguish them. In some domains, like in
organizational settings, frequently we don't even know if what we are
doing is effective or not. In this types of situations maybe to clarify
what one knows or thinks he knows, may help oneself or others to see more
clearly. To discover the points were he is eventually right but also, and
much more important, the points were he is wrong --the points were a
"cognitive dissonance" (and why not an emotional dissonance?) exists and
must be recognized and corrected.
In what concern "LO's and metanoia" any new model will have to be a
collective one, I think. I have no intention of "teaching" anything - only
stating things I believe and others that are only doubts - points where I
know that I don't know! I hope that some of you will help me to confirm or
disconfirm the former and give solutions to some of my doubts.
Please consider this post as a clarification of purposes in the middle of
the series on metanoia.
"Artur F. Silva" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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