High School Teacher Training LO13079

Mnr AM de Lange (AMDELANGE@gold.up.ac.za)
Tue, 1 Apr 1997 10:18:38 GMT+2

Fabian Szulanski wrote on 28 Mar in LO13049

Dear organlearners,

Fabian, I wish you all success with your studies.

> I'm beginning to think about some research topics for my Master Thesis,
> and I have thought of trying to figure out how can be Systems Thinking and
> System Dynamics be better taught in a multicultural and interdisciplinary
> high school teacher training program,

I believe that you have identified an issue with much scope to it. I
cannot recall from my memory any work that has been done on this issue
here in South Africa - a country where many cultures co-exist. Is the lack
of such studies here not a pity?

> and to try to propose a methodology for homogenize that
> knowledge transfer;

It is the words "homogenize" and "transfer" which worries me. The term
'knowledge transfer' is presently very fashionable. However, fashion is
not always sound.

If the acquiring of knowledge is MERELY a matter of transfer, then
certainly homogenization of "knowledge" is possible. Here in Africa most
instruction and learning are done by parrotry (memorisation and
regurgitation). However, parrotry is a learning RESOURCE rather than a
learning MODE [1]. (Motivation: a copy of the information is made.
Although the copy is mental, it differs in no other way from a copy on
paper or a copy on a computer disc.)

After the parrotry phase, learning towards knowledge still has to take
place [2]. (The same applies when the learner gets hold of a book and
reads through it once - the learner still has to acquire the knowledge on
the subject.) It is then when the homogenisation stops and
heterogenisation (diversification) takes place. Why?

Firstly, the experiences of the learners differ. Since knowledge is based
on experience [3], the knowledges of the different learners cannot be
replicas of each other. Secondly, the creativity of the learners differ.
Since irreversible learning is based on creating [4], the knowledges of
different learners will again diverge.

Diversification is probably the most astounding feature of the material
and the abstract worlds. Diversity is the result of the law of entropy
production [5]. One of the most important reasons why we need system
thinking, according to Stafford Beer, is to handle this very diversity. It
is possible to annul this diveristy with homogenisation, but it leads to
almost incomprehensible misery. Think, for example, of what many of the
dictators or cult leaders have done in the history of humankind.

> and after that, to measure the effectiveness of applying
> that proposed methodology.

Effectivity is certainly important. However, morality is much more
important. Is homogenisation morally acceptable?

> If not already done, it would be a real challenge for me to tackle this
> research project.

To take systems thinking into the theory of teaching (dydactics) is
indeed a creative challence.

> Any comments, insights and suggestions will be really appreciated.

I hope that you will consider my comments in a positive light, especially
since they are negative with respect to your use of the words
"homogenisation" and "transfer". Some of my premisses with which you may
have trouble, I have indicated with square brackets []. This might
facilitate further dialogue on the matter.

Best wishes


At de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre for Education University of Pretoria Pretoria, South Africa email: amdelange@gold.up.ac.za

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