Teaching Smart vs. not LO13564

Benjamin B. Compton (bcompton@geocities.com)
Fri, 09 May 1997 09:49:36 -0700

Replying to LO13541 --

I wish I could remember who wrote what (and I could if I took the time
to look it up, but I don't want to take the time), but there seem to be
two core ideas on this topic:

1- Personal accountability
2- Systemic forces

Both, I think, are important ingredients to a Learning Organization. In
the situation I described -- my daily work life -- I think both of these
ingredients are missing.

>From my perspective, the morality of our actions is determined by a
number of factors, but two specific ones seem relevant to this thread:

1- Motive
2- Result

Our motives often determine whether what we do is right or wrong. And the
result we produce -- whether intentional or not -- also influences the
rightness or wrongness of our actions. Because results often touch the
lives of others, we can conclude that morality influences our social
order. If that premise is accepted then what I'm wrestling with is a moral
issue. Here's what I mean.

If the people I work with don't have a desire to learn what they need to
know to do their job effectively then I must question their motive. Why do
they come to work? Is it for pay? Is it because work is a socially imposed
activity? Is it because they derive a sense of belonging by coming to
work? I also question why they don't want to learn the required subjects:
Is it because they really don't care about technology? Is it because they
are intimidated by the complexity of the technology? Do they suffer from
low self-esteem, and feel like they can never master the subjects? Does
the system these people operate in punish them for learning? Do the
performance metrics inhibit the desire to learn?

Their motive, to some degree, determines whether their actions are moral
or not. At the same time, understanding their motives seems to be the
leverage point. If I know why they're behaving the way they are, then I
can do more to help change their behavior. The problem, I face, is that it
is a painful process to identify and expose our motives. It seems to
require an extraordinary amount of trust betweeen two people to get into
this part of our thinking. But that is what I'm trying to do; I feel that
is where one of my leverage points lie.

The results these people produce, however, inhibit my ability -- as well
as others who are committed to learning and helping Novell continue to
survive and thrive -- to make a meaningful difference. Their actions
affect me in ways I don't like, and therefore I view their behavior --
strictly from my perspective -- as immoral. There is almost a
contradiction between these two issues. I want to understand their motives
so I can help change the behavior, but I view their behavior as immoral so
I'm sometimes too impatient. The conflict creates a tension that leads to
action, so I'm willing to deal with it even though it is draining.

Ben Compton
"Friends are the ornaments of life."
E-Mail: bcompton@geocities.com
Phone:  (801) 222-6178
Fax:    (801) 222-6993
Web:    http://www.e-ad.com/ben/BEN.HTM

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