Self organizing systems exercise LO13428

Mnr AM de Lange (
Fri, 2 May 1997 15:33:06 GMT+2

Dear organlearners,

Bette Gardner wrote on

> Has anyone seen an exercise successfully used for demonstrating self
> organizing systems?
> My setting is a large organization in which people often feel as if they
> can't really make a difference.

The following will probably of little value to you in the field which you
are working in. But it has been of immense value to me to understand and
get confirmation on how the brain as a self- organising system works when
it has to master a complex and exact science such as chemistry.

I have created a lesson authoring system called CACTAL (Computer Assisted
Creative Teaching And Learning). It make use of Visual Basic as
programming language. Much of what I have been writing about these past
few months (to learn is to create, creativity is the result of entropy
production, the manifestation of entropy production firstly as chaos of
becoming and then as order of being, revolutionary and evolutionary
creativity, the essentialities of creativity, complexity and
complexification, etc) has been worked into the code of CACTAL.

One of the the best experience which a teacher ever can have in
self-organisation, is to use the code of CACTAL to create his/her own
lesson and then observe how each learner behave when working through such
a lesson.

Just to give you an example. What is emergent learning? I get shivers
along my back when I observe a student working through the emergent
learning excercises. I know exactly how I have programmed these excercises
and the immense complexity I had to supply behind the screen (in
progamming) for the emergent learning to happen. To then see what in
advance had been planned and thus had been formalised (programmed)
happening before my eyes, is really an experience which cannot be decribed
in a thousand words.

But it is even more wonderful, when I have built that into an excercise,
to step in when the program cannot handle all the complexity of the
emergent learning. (This happens when the student has a very complex
disadvantage, something which will costs many thousand of lines of program
code to handle. It is easy to catch such a situation - the student goes
into a repetitive looping without any further change!) It is then when the
superiority of the human brain as a computer to handle complexity gives me
the shakes - provided, of course, the human brain has been educated in
advance to do it.

Those of you interested in CACTAL: I have prepared two fliers (the one on
the theory and the other one on its practice) and how to obtain it. Its
code is free, except for the costs to duplicate and mail it. The one flier
tells where it can be FTPed.

I have provided some text files in CACTAL to explain its theory. However,
my forth coming book (Entropy, Creativity and Learning: how to manage
chaos, order and complexity in nature and culture) ought to do a better
job than these text files. (How I wish this book has already been

Bette, if there are not many excercises now available in your field, do
not fret over it. It will come with time - that I am sure of. Irreversible
self-organisation (I prefer to use the phrase "deep creativity") is
something that will persist like the printing (scripting) of our oral
communication - even when it happens nowadays on a computer screen. Those
who do not want to take notice of irreversible self-organisation will be
like those who do not want to read books - it will only be worse. That you
can be assured of.

Best wishes


At de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre for Education University of Pretoria Pretoria, South Africa email:

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>