Goals, Objectives & Three Levels of Knowing LO29246

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@postino.up.ac.za)
Date: 09/30/02

Replying to LO29236 --

Dear Organlearners,

George Mcconnell <george.mcconnell@baesystems.com> writes:

>thanks for yet another piece of wisdom.
>I often use this sort of technique (although I was in ignorance
>of the reasons why it might be a good technique) when
>assisting my two daughters with their school homework. I
>fnd that often they will "just do it" without really understanding
>what they are doing. This often results in mistakes, so I
>question why they are doing what they are doing and draw
>out of them an understanding of the meaning behind their

Greetings dear George,

This questioning with only answers supplied by the learner as if i do not
know anything self, is not my wisdom . It was already known to Socrates
with whom the Golden Era of Greek civilisation began. Unfortunately, Plato
did not descibe clearly how Socrates managed it.

Can you believe it, after my MSc and four years of research, during my two
years of training as a teacher, i had to learn a lot about education, all
in an atmosphere of rote learning. Perhaps this is the reason why i was
never told even once about Socrates and how he helped learners by
questions to get noble thoughts born in them.

>This often frustrates my wife who will say - "why don't
>you just tell them how to do it". I have always taken the
>view that it is better that they ell me how to do it -
>obviously if they don't know or cannot articulate the
>method I will be more direct. My elder daughter (she is 12)
>often says - "why are you asking me that, it has nothing to
>do with the homework" - and then I find that I need to
>explain to her the associations that are going through my
>mind that led me to ask the particular question.

Two things struck me in your response. The first is the patience we should
have for introducing someone to authentic learning. In a world deluged by
information and thus over loaded curricula, learners are forced to cram
information into their heads as fast as possible. They have no time to
learn how to delve into the tacit dimension of their knowing. Teachers who
know how to do it would certainly object against the over loaded

The second is hinted by the "why are you asking me that, it has nothing to
do with the homework" and your response (the "associations" part) to it.
Einstein has excalimed several times that the imagination of most learners
gets destroyed in schools. (I see that teachers are now trying to it with
my grandaughter Jessica -- according to them she imagine too much to pay
attention to what she must remember.) It is not only necessary for the
learner to delve in the tacit dimension of his/her learning, but also to
use his/her imagination (your "associations") profusely to have a learning

Have you ever thought of questioning yourself how you actually make these

>Sometimes it seems very difficult to make her understand
>what I am getting at - even when the questions seem to
>me very simple. For instance last night I she was having
>difficulty with the concept of square and cubic metres. I
>asked her to show me a meter and it took some time and
>several "what do you mean"s before she stretched her
>arms about a metre apart.

If i may give some advice, try to reduce these "what do you mean"s to the
minimum. Rather try to formulate questions using answers already given,
moving towards that insight which you are seeking. A question has two
parts -- the known and the unknown. The known part addresses the
explicit/formal leavel, but has its roots in the tacit dimension! It is by
means of these roots that the unknown part can reach into the tacit
dimension too. The "what do you mean"s lack these roots.

>However, from there it became easier to explain the
>other concepts and stop her from doing the "wrong
>thinking" which was resulting in several incorrect
>answers to her maths homework!

You are right. Once a learner has learned how to delve in the tacit
dimension as well as to use his/her imagination, learning begins to
accelerate. Eventually the learner will learn much faster with less errors
than those who follow rote learning (memorising information and then
trying to internalise it with finding correct applications).

>thank you for making me feel that I am not so wrong
>or so different!

Well, according to the overwhelming practice in formal institutions for
education like schools, colleges and universities you and i are made to
feel wrong ;-)

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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