Teaching Smart vs. not LO13556

Thu, 8 May 1997 19:59:05 -0700

Replying to LO13427 --

On Fri, 2 May 1997, MargMcI@aol.com wrote:
>I related strongly to what you were saying and the frustrations you have
>in this job.
>In a message dated 5/2/97 5:38:20 AM, Ben wrote:
>>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. . .

Margaret (and Ben):

Watching this thread unfold, I receive a firm reminder of the apparent
contrasts/conflicts we deal with in our chosen professions. We exist at
the boundary between ideals we strive for (and practice from), and the
"harsh soil" (to borrow a Sengeism) of many, many organizations.

In one corner, the ideals (which can be described in rich tapestries, but
to call out a few): consciousness, creativity, interconnectedness,
increasing complexity from chaos. Weighing in in the other corner, what
we deal with everyday: apparent disinterest in learning, resentment,
resistance, apathy...we know the ground well.

Margaret describes quite elegantly how to overcome resistance, and there's
little I could add here to improve it. In her suggestions, she applies
the principles of systems thinking, the ladder of inference, understanding
and using the Tao of organizational resistance to move forward. But it
strikes me that something's wrong here - not with Ben's frustration, or
Margaret's skill in dealing with these everyday frustrations. The
"wrongness" in my perception derives from the realization that these
traits have become so ubiquitous. The frustration that Ben describes we
can relate to with an empathy that comes from having been there; the
skills we've honed that Margaret offers like the tools of a warrior are
proof of the hazards of the crusade.

Ben concludes, with almost absolute certainty, that >>"Working with people
like this is a very draining experience.", and >>"I want to work with
people who want to learn, who want to make a difference, who want to
achieve something meaningful.>> If we accept this, we accept that "these
people" don't want to learn, and "out there" (somewhere) are some who do.
What's wrong here?

"These people" that Ben work with learn every day; indeed, they have to
learn every day in order to keep from going stark, raving mad. To
describe in chaos theory, non-learning implies a static attractor (the
same thing, forever), or a periodic attractor (the same cycle of things,
without the slightest perceived perturbation) over and over and over...So
they do learn (they must), they just show no desire in learning what we
want them to...

As Humans, the desire to learn is as fundamental to our core being as
breathing. The degree to which we desire to learn is (in one way) what
distinguishes us from the rest of the animals. No one has to teach a baby
to learn. As we grow older, we develop guards against learning
(manifested most basically in "fear of failure", and "fear of rejection").
And when we assemble in organizations, we develop org-wide "learning
disabilities". Yet even then, we become most inspired when we're tapping
that part of ourselves that's lain dormant (Maslow all over again).

Yet, Ben goes home every day (as do at least some of us some of the time)
feeling drained. We develop skills (some, like Margaret, quite
masterfully) in "tricking" others into learning. We have little confidence
that people will do the right things because so often we're reminded when
they do not.

My last thoughts on this: To Ben - Look to the system "these people"
matured in to find what needs changing (not the people themselves, they
are merely manifestations of what's really wrong); if you don't feel it's
worth the struggle, then remember "Life's short, Life's fragile" (in other
words, move on). To Margaret - thanks for your words of wisdom.




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