My Theory of Organizational Learning LO30800

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 11/24/03

Replying to LO30797 --

Dear Organlearners,

Rick Karash <> wrote:

>[LOers, this is the item I mentioned by I distributed Grady's
>seminar announcement LO30796. ..Rick]
>Theory Underlying Organizational Learning
>by: Richard Karash
>DRAFT for Review and comment on the learning-org list;
>please do not quote or redistribute; instead, please contact
>me for an up-to-date copy. Copyright 2003 Richard Karash.

Greetings dear Rick,

Finally, after so many years, we got something very interesting from
your keyboard ("pen" in the old days ;-) We will do our best to
comment on it. Hopefully these comments will be of some help to you.

>The Theory Underlying Organizational Learning
> ----------
> 1. People tend to wallow in shallowness. This tends to be
>a stable situation unless and until provoked. Alone, few will
>rise to serious reflection on meaningful issues; for many life
>is just to be lived.
>There is joy in just going with the flow.
> 2. Most people will rise to seriousness if provoked skillfully.

It seems to me that in this reply i will not go any further than your
point 1. I quoted point 2 to indicate that i am aware your point 1
extends up to point 6.

I have been teaching for 32 years now for pupils at schools up to
students at university. I have to agree with you that MANY "People
tend to wallow in shallowness". But i have to qualify the exceptions.
Most exceptions are people who had been exposed to at least one mentor
(at home, at school, at university or sometimes at an organisation not
even related to education) who guided them to dig deep down where the
intellectual diamonds are.

This is where your point 2 comes in. People will rise to seriousness
when they are "skillfully provoked" by a mentor. However, parents,
teachers and lecturers are not implicitly mentors because of their
adulthood or any professional training. The reason is that world wide
most educational systems are geared towards mediocrity -- getting a
bell-shaped curve of test results with its top somewhere in the
vincinity of 50% mastery. In other words, the mediocrity of
educational systems makes people wallow in shallowness.

The relationship between a mentor and his/her mentees is beautifully
captured by the movie "A dead poet's society". The mentor sets the
challenge as soon as the fruitful moment presents itself in a mentee.
The mentor does not challenge the mentee to begin climbing mount
Everest, but the challenge does consist of climbing an intellectual
mountain not attempted before by the mentee.

A mentor tells his/her mentees when they are in doubt of how specific
persons in the past managed to accomplish what was not expected nor
even thought to be possible. Nothing motivates so much as any past
hero of learning. Also do not forget encouragement when a learner
shows any unusual progress. However, nothing demotivates so much as
rewarding mediocre learning or scolding upon any failure.

Even worse than the mediocrity of the educational systems is the fact
that this mediocrity is taken or made the norm. Whether a learner or a
teacher, whenever someone tries to surpass this norm by endeavoring
for true excellence, all those adhering to the norm will come down on
this a person as an avalache of rocks. Education ought to be the king
of systems, but this king is without clothes. Beware of telling it to
the innocent.

Rick, i do not agree with the word "joy" in your "There is joy in just
going with the flow." I wish i knew English well enough to suggest a
better word. Perhaps "comfort" will do, i.e., the abscence of pain or
annoyance. Joy is rather felt when someone got deeper than the usual

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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