Teaching the Smart vs. the Stupid LO13459

Mnr AM de Lange (AMDELANGE@gold.up.ac.za)
Mon, 5 May 1997 12:36:22 GMT+2

Replying to LO13384 --

Dear organlearners,

Ben Compton wrote on 24 Apr in LO13384

> I could expound on each one of these, but that's not the point. The bottom
> line is that the people I Mentor for don't care about learning. They
> simply want me, as a mentor, to feed them the answers to every question.
> They have no desire to dig for an answer. I don't know if it's that
> they're stupid and/or lazy, but I do know that when I lead them in a
> direction that requires learning they get pissed off, send a nasty message
> to their manager, who then stops by my office and craps all over me.


> From my conversations with these eight people it seems that they're just
> working 8 - 5 so they can get drunk on the weekend, or spend their weekend
> golfing. They're not interested in building a meaningful career, they
> don't care whether they develop new skills. It leaves me bewildered. I
> don't care if they learn what I want them to learn; all I care about is
> that they learn to do their job better.
> Working with people like this is a very draining experience. I give myself
> to them all day, and go home empty. And I do it day in and day out. I
> really hate my job. It's a chore to get up and go to work in the morning.
> It's not worth the money. I want to work with people who want to learn,
> who want to make a difference, who want to achieve something meaningful.
> Hence my question. . .

Ben, thank you very much for a very clear, open description of your
problem. If you carefully observe what you have written, a person might
easily take it for the mumbo-jumbo of a arrogant, self-justified person.
But we know you better.

What you have described, is the NON-spontaneous behaviour of people in
your organisation. The spontaneity of any specific behaviour is a
remarkable facet of irreversible self- organisation, i.e. deep creativity.
It is closely related to another facet, namely the relationship between
chaos and order through emergences.

Let us think in terms of creations, i.e. creative systems. It can be
anything which changes. Thus it can also be humans. The spontaneity of any
creation for any, yet specific, change (behaviour) is determined by the
change in free energy (potential energy) for that change. If the free
energy will decrease during the change, the change is spontaneous. This
means that the change will happen on its own accord. If the free energy
would increase, the change is non-spontaneous. This means that the
specific change will not happen on its own accord.

A system which changes in a spontaneous manner, can be harnesed to do work
on its surroundings while making that specific change. What then happens,
is that the decreasing free energy is converted into active, organised
work and not merely chaos. (Think of water which will spontaneously run
from the top of a mountain to its base. Its hydrostatical free energy due
to gravitation may be converted into electrical energy organised into a
powerline. If the free energy is not converted into work, it is converted
into immense chaos - thundering noise, mist spray, twisting water, etc.)
You have described your own actions. They are typical of a system acting
spontaneous for those changes which you have identified by one generic
name, namely learning.

A system which have to change in a non-spontaneous manner, can only do so
when it is forced through work done from the outside by the environment.
In other words, whereas the system spontaneous for a certain specific
change can act as a producer of organised work, the system non-spontaneous
for the same specific change, will act as a consumer of organised work.
You have described the actions of your colleagues. They are typical of a
system acting nonspontaneously for those changes collectively called
learning. You act as a source of work in their environment, sustaining
their non-spontaneous learning.

A creation which has to change nonspontaneously, will never do it on its
own accord. It has to be forced from the outside by work done on it to
undergo that specific change. As soon as the forcing work stops, it will
stop changing any further. (Think of water which has to run uphill. It can
be pumped uphill, but it will stop as soon as the pump stops working on

Your problem is thus a very serious one - trying to manage a team in an
organisation (or even the whole organisation) to exhibit a cpecific change
non-spontaneously. It is a problem for you because you have to act as the
soutce for work on that team, harnessing your own spontanous changes. This
is what drenges your own free energy. You are experiencing not enough
situations to recharge your own battery.

You drenge your own battery because your organisation expect the team to
make those specific changes. But I suspect that whoever expects such
changes, has never thought that these specific changes can happen either
spontaneously or nonspontaneously. What they do expect, is that the
changes should be as little costly as possible. Unfortunately, to make any
non-spontaneous change happen, is always a costly. Why? Because it
involves an external source of work.

Another word for 'spontaneity' in the realm of human affairs, is
'motivation'. A spontaneous change for a human is thus known as motivated
behaviour. A non-spontaneous change has not yet been named. We cannot call
it unmotivated behaviour. Unmotivated behaviour is simply spontaneous
behaviour for which the person cannot yet formulate its motivation in
words. The best we can do, is to call it non-motivated behaviour.
Non-motivated behaviour will happen only when it is forced by external
work. Non- motivated behaviour is thus a very costly business.

Ben, what you have to do, is to assist in the improvement of the
motivation (spontaneity) of your team. But take care, my friend, because
this improvement cannot be forced upon them by external work. It has to
happen spontaneously itself! It alomst seems as if we now have a catch-22
situation here. The clue needed to escape this catch-22 situation, is to
think of self- organisation, i.e. deep creativity. When it comes to
learning, you will have to employ new type of learning which I call
emergent learning. Emergent learning involves the selective creation of
chaos, the transformation of chaos into bare order, the digestive maturing
of order and then finally instigating a new cycle with the free energy so

Ben, you have to stop making your battery flat by working on the turning
of their motors. They will have to use their own batteries and recharge
them when they have become flat. Making your own battery flat so many
times will do yourself and your organisation no good. What you will have
to do, is to become a midwife for emergent learning. In other words, you
will have to learn yourself how facilitate emergent learning among your

This midwifery is too complex to be given attention in this contribution.

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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