Creating Learning Environments LO30668

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 10/07/03

Replying to LO30638 --

Dear Organlearners,

Edward Rogosky <> wrote:

>Having read the Fifth Discipline and other general systems
>thinking books, and liking Senge's approach, one issue
>befuddles me.
>Senge speaks of using no coercion in the implementation of
>a learning organization. Yet, people hardly do the right thing
>inless they are slightly coerced into moving in that direction.

Greetings dear Edward,

You are thinking about something crucially important, but unfortunately,
also very complex in itself. I do not know how to explain it in a simple

First of all, more than thirty years ago, then as a teacher, i observed
that my pupils learned much better whan i avoided all coercive means. I
could not understand it, but still tried to develop as many non-coercive
techniques as possible. Understanding stayed out in the cold for another
fifteen years.

Then i read Ilya Prigogine's book Order out of Chaos in which the central
theme is irreversible self-organisation. Things began to make sense to me.

The "irreversible" means that a definite entity of the system has to
increase. I will not identify this entity because then complexity will
explode in your face. Irreversibility also means that this entity cannot
stay the same, nor can it decrease. A great increase in this entity is
needed for the system to have an emergence to a higher order.

The "self" means that the system has to increase the entity itself. Many
systems in the environment can also act irreversibly by increasing this
entity in them. However, when they produce this entity and it is then used
to deluge the system with it rather than the system itself increasing it,
the result will be the system having destructive immergences rather than
constructive emergences. In all coercive practices this entity is created
outside the system such that the system gets deluged with it. Thus
coercive practices cannot result in emergences.

The implementation of a learning organization has to happen by way of an
emergence. In other words, it is an emergent transformation.

I suspect that the entire explanation will be very fuzzy to you because i
do not want to identify the entity. So let me give an example which also
does not identify the entity, but which very much involves it. You wrote:
"I am a doctoral student whose topic is theological systems thinking or
analysis." I assume that your theology concerns the Christian faith. I
will select an example from the Bible. (Please forgive the spelling of the
names because i study the Bible mostly in my own mother tongue.)

Now think of Elija who confronted the Baal priests on the mountain Karmel.
It was a dramatic event. He dared them to pray to Baal to fire the wood
underneath their sacrifice. Nothing happened. Then he drenched all on the
altar with water and prayed to his God to fire the wet wood. It happened.
The Baal priests got killed. Only then Elija got very afraid. He did
something very wrong. Was it the killing of the priests? He fled to the
desert. He hid in a cave and there his God taught him what went wrong. Do
not coerce God into a miracle since God self does not coerce poeple to
believe in Him. (By the way, the fire is a fine indication of what the
enitity is.)

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> 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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