learning with, or without a goal LO28849

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@postino.up.ac.za)
Date: 07/16/02

Replying to LO28840 --

Dear Organlearners,

Terje Tonsberg <tatonsberg@hotmail.com> writes:
in reply to my

>>In fact, I already feel uneasy to deal with two
>>eparate subjects like language and mathematics.
>Let's not teach them separately, lets teach them together,
>showing the bridge between them. Expressing an idea in
>English, then in Math and so on. Lets call math and
>languages "language."

Greerings dear Terje,

I recently had to help a civil engineer in designing a project for a post
graduate degree. The project involved civil engineering (physics),
chemistry, microbiology, botany (wetland) and husbandry (nutrition). This
engineer later admitted that for the first time in his life he experienced
how a holistic (wholeness) design works. The difference between
interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary thinking also became more clear to
him. He is becoming very excited because new horizons for thinking opens
up before him.

>>Adding a third and fourth subject like art and designs
>>shows to me that we are already on the path of
>>fragmentation rather than wholeness (another one of the
>>7Es). This would do us no good.
>Yes. I think factual systems such as history, geography,
>science, literary criticism etc. should revolve around
>"language", and around major concepts that bridge between
>them such as "how do you know that?" and "don't take
>everything at face value". If one comes out of school with
>high fluency and comfort in "language", then learning what
>one needs can be done on the go. Particularly at the
>pre-professional skill stage.

I am trying to find a word which will describe how all these many
disciples act in unison. Perhaps the best word is "synergy" where
"syn-"=together and "ergos"= work. Synergy in an interdisciplinary project
is difficult to obtain. Synergy in transdisciplinary thinking is also
difficult, but with a dedicated thinker it is possible. This person then
"blends" the various disciplines into one complex thinking.

>>Today I would advocate the learning of several
>>languages and not merely one as of principal importance.
>I think that's too much for most people though...
>Teaching more than one language slows down the
>development of the others, which can have dangerous
>motivational consequences. One needs to tread
>carefully on this one....

South Africa has at least a dozen languages having a million or more
speakers and another dozen language having more than a hundred thousand
speakers. Bilingual, trilingual and quatrolingual speakers abound here.
But most interestingly, the majority of those who can speak more than two
languages have learnt them informally through daily contacts. Thus i think
that "teaching" in your "Teaching more than one language slows down..." is
reponsible for problems, not the "learning" itself.

>How does one apply the principles of emergent and
>digestive learning to vocabulary? I think it is a peculiar
>case, because words are so many and, unlike topics
>like history, they are hard to connect in a few emergent
>properties. How does one "devour" vocabulary?

You have lift out an import course of thinking. I can only answer it for
myself with Afrikaans as mother tongue. A new thought emerges from usually
two, seldom three and rarely four thoughts connecting together. At least
one of these thoughts has usually a metaphor associated to it. We now have
a powerful rule in Afrikaans by which we can create a word associated with
the emergeing thought. Let me show it by example.

A piece of wood has the texture and density of ivory (the metaphor). But
the wood has a black rather than white colour. It comes from a definite
kind of tree. Give the tree the name "swartivoor" ("swart"=black,
"ivoor"=ivory). The two words "swart ivoor" mean something else, namely
ivory stained black.

It is easy for me to create articulate emerging thoughts as the example
above illustrates. The difficult part for me is to translate that thought
into English. Here I have to comb through dictionaries, seeking for a word
describing closest what I had in mind.

>>Avoid doing the same thing over and over again. There
>>is also a need for spareness, otherness, fruitfulness,
>>wholeness, openness and liveness. Work all the 7Es into
>>the exercises. It is possible and I have done it in my
>>chemistry courses. Furthermore, it works far better than
>>parrot drills.
>Yes, that is definitely true, and if one reaches the necessary
>speed and accuracy this way it is enough. Still, I think
>practicing facts to fluency is key, so although drills can be
>a bore, one needs to make sure that one does not throw
>the baby (fluency) out with the bathwater (drills.) (snip)

No, i do not intend to throw out the baby with the water.

Dear Terje, here we come to a very, every important issue. What is
the relationship between authentic learning and practising that which
had been learnt authentically for a better performance. I tried to set
out this relationship in November last with the the essay
"Learning Curves or Performance Curves. LO27588"
< http://www.learning-org.com/01.11/0105.html >
(Thank you Alfred for finding the URL.)

Perhaps it is time to pick up that essay once again and begin a
LO-dialogue on it. I admit that it has far too much mathematics in it for
the liking of most fellow learners. But my intentions was to use LEP (Law
of Entropy Production) as a foundation to explain the difference between
learning and performing.

I will now refer to the performance curve (Figure 3)
< http://www.learning-org.com/graphics/LO27588_curveper.gif >
The performance curve has a bent form almost like a reed of grass
bending in the wind. In a slight wind it will stand almost upright while
in a strong wind it will soon be pushed horisontal. The shape of the
grass read is the performance curve. But the wind blowing against it
is the authentic learning. The stronger the authentic learning (rather
than rote learning) during the repetitions of a performance, the
sooner the maximum performance will be reached.

Too many repetitions for a better performance focus only on one of the
7Es, namely spareness ("quantity-limit"). In that case only a slight wind
blow against the grass reed so that it stands almost upright. In my
opinion increasing the number of repetitions for a better performance is
the least one can do. But if better quality also begins to play a role in
the repetitions, the performance is improved drastically. The wind is
stronger so that the grass reed bends more.

Quality refers to the essentiality otherness ("quality-variety"). It is
now possible to bring in each of the other five remaining 7Es. The effect
of this is to let the wind blow stronger and stronger with each

>Actually, lack of fluency can be a block to emergences
>of more complex skills and these can be removed with
>specific drills on facts, as research has shown at
>Morningside Academy in Seattle and other places.

If the essentiality liveness ("becoming-being") had been neglected in the
repitions, then a block to subsequent emergences will most probably exist.
(Technicallly, i call this block a "free energy barrier". (See the essays
on firtness and other landscapes.) However, when all 7Es have been
employed, but the maximum performance had not yet been reached because of
too few repetitions, there is no block, but rather a lengthening
(dilation) of the time needed for the emergence to happen.

>Suddenly, in between drill sessions, or during one, I
>effortlessly realized that the formula was basically the
>formula of standard deviation written 3 times, which
>again lead to other emergences. After all this, I'll be
>careful to dismiss the utility of such drill sessions as long
>as they are individually purposeful, measured and short.

What had happened here in my opinion, is that the wind of authentic
learning began to blow stronger upon the grass reed of performance. From
your description it looks to me that the essentialities sureness
("identity-context") and fruitfulness ("connect-beget) played the crucial
role in your emergence to a new level of understanding. But it is for you
to say what actually happened. I would be very glad to read how you see

>Also, from the viewpoint of passion, fluency in word
>recognition as an example, promotes reading fluency
>and thereby understanding which again is the key to
>passion. So if a few purposeful, measured and short
>fluency drills can bring one to this point faster...

I am not arguing against fluency completely. But i wonder whether the
passion is derived from the fluency or the actual understanding. I made
last December an in depth study of Beethoven (painist and componist). His
playing was superior to most others, but he still made errors in fluency
(pressing wrong keys or keeping them pressed for the wrong duration of
time). There were others much better than him in this fluency of
performance. However, where he outclassed them all, is in his brilliant
rendering of the feelings which the composer originally intended. Last
Sundy my dear wife and i listened once again to several of his works. And
we concluded once again -- it is not the technical perfomance which
creates the passion within us, but the emergence of feelings by way of
superior renderings which did the job.

Thank you Terje for your authentic questioning with an open mind the art
of learning.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <amdelange@postino.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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