Teaching the Smart vs. the Stupid LO13464

Mon, 5 May 1997 09:34:10 -0400 (EDT)

Replying to LO13384 --

In a message dated 97-05-02 06:33:13 EDT, Ben writes:

> 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.

Lots of evidence suggests, Ben, that this goes beyond the question of are
they stupid and/or lazy, and speaks more to how these people have been
socialized/culturized via institutions of learning and work. An unhappy
result of systems that discourage a more reflective, mindful approach to
one's life, risk-taking, and critical-thinking, and rewards simply doing
what one is told to do--in essence, the banking metaphor of learning
(e.g., learners' mental accounts are empty, and it is the job of a teacher
to fill them up, dump info. into empty minds). Learned helplessness. The
ways in which work is organized and conducted, in the more traditional
paradigms, encourage this. Is no wonder, then, that this is how so many
people (but definitely not all!) operate: just tell me what to do, what
will fix the problems, how to do my job, and I'll do it.

> 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.

Again, a natural outcome of the dominant organizational and social
archetype: the meaning of work has come, for a number of reasons, to be
equated with our ability to consume. We educate in order to get good
jobs; we get good jobs in order to consume more for ourselves, or enable
others to consume more. That becomes the end value. When working with
organizations wanting to become more mindful, I always begin with the
question, What is your reason for being? Why is financial success

The challenge, of course (and one which we are struggling to address
here), is how to reshape our institutions and society so that new meanings
are encouraged. Only then will people more typically become the active
learners, and critical thinkers, that will move our development forward.


Terri A Deems tadeems@aol.com

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>