Entropic forces LO17260

Mnr AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Mon, 2 Mar 1998 15:05:58 GMT+2

Replying to LO17141 -- Was: Ranking - Selecting and Sorting

Dear Organlearners,

David Wilkinson <Davidwilk@aol.com> writes

> snip...
> Kids, who do not appear as smart are diverted toward courses that are less
> difficult with lower expectations. Educational research shows that a key
> component to educational success is high expecations. When we expect a
> lot, we get a lot more often, If we don't expect much, we don't get much.
> Successful schools, especially in areas with high numbers of kids from
> lower socio-economic backgrounds, do well when the school culture has high
> expectations and a belief that all children can learn.
> snip>
> The challenge is to have high expectations for all - employees and
> students; and help build their capacity to reach those expectations.

David, I was a high school teacher myself for four years. The first two
years I never encouraged even one pupil by telling him/her what I expected
from him/her. The reason was that I have had grave experiences in my own
schooling years of teachers expecting more from some fellow pupils than
what they possibly could deliver. This had horrible destructive effects on
their lifes.

But in my last two years of teaching pupils I began to encourage some of
them very carefully by telling them that they did not live up to my
expectations of them. I made very sure that I could give each one of them
a whole list of reasons exactly what I expected from them and why I
expected it. In all cases such expectations worked like a magic potion.

Up to about ten years ago I was still surprised that I did not begin to
use this magic potion indiscriminately. The reason was that during those
teaching years I tried to understand creativity and learning. I did not
know enough about each to formulate the relationship between them
formally. But on the tacit level of knowledge my intuition warned me to
proceed very carefully. Slowly, the more I began to comprehend what
creativity is about, I realised that the list of reasons for each pupil
had very much to do with the creativity of that pupil. Only if a pupil's
learning outcomes were far inferior to the creativity of the pupil, I
thought it wise to tell the pupil that I expected much more from him/her.

Content (semantics) and form (syntaxis) are duals of each other. We also
have these duals in creativity. I refer to the contents of creativity as
the dynamics of creativity and to the form of creativity as the mechanics
of creativity. The dynamics of creativity concerns such topics as
force-flux pairs of entropy production; driving the system from
equilibrium to the edge of chaos; first manifesting the entropy as chaos;
then, after the bifurcation point at the edge of chaos, also manifesting
the entropy as order; beginning by an emergence and then ending by
digestions. The mechanics of creativity concerns the seven essentialities
of creativity.

Entropy is produced by force-flux pairs. The entropic forces are nothing
else than differences in qualities. How do we set up such differences? If
we state our "expectation" of a learner AND IF the learner compares it
with his/her own "expectations", the difference between the two forms an
entropic force within the learner. Here is a list of methods we can use to
set up such differences: "expecting, ranking, competing, rating,
praising, rewarding". You will notice that except for David's
expecations, each of the other methods received extensive and often heated
discussions on this list. For example, in employee ranking some like Ben
Comption and Rol Fassenden are very much for it while others are heavily
against it.

Dont you find it extraordinary that about a third of the contributions on
this forum for the past two years concern the methods of setting up
differences, methods depicted by the list "expecting, ranking, competing,
rating, praising, rewarding"? Dont you find it extraordinary that some
will defend a method while others attack it? Why?

The answer lies in the complexity involved and that we want a simple
rather than a complex answer.

The first thing which I want to draw your attention to, is what I call the
"Onsager cross inductions". In irreversible thermodynamics (concerning
systems in which entropy is produced) we have the so called Onsager
reciprocal relationships. Basically it means that of we set up a
thermodynamical force (what I call an entropic force in the deep sense),
it will cause the emergence of several other thermodynamical forces. To
use a metaphor: put one wasp in a hive of bees and many bees will come

Create one difference in a complex system and many other differences will
emerge. Each unique difference will lead to its own behaviour (called a
flux in irreversible thermodynamics). The complexity of these entropic
forc-flux pairs can drive any manager in dispair. This is what each method
depicted by the list "expecting, ranking, competing, rating, praising,
rewarding" does. Apply such a method for setting up a difference, and
suddenly those involved begin to notice all sorts of other differences,
wanting actions (fluxes) for each of them.

The second thing which I want to draw your attention to, is the nature of
the bifurcations at the edge of chaos. The etymology of the word
"bifurcation" means that two things are possible. In other words, there is
a forking in the outcome. We all desire the emerge of a new order.
However, in reality we can get either the emergence to a higher order or
the immergence to a lower order. When we think of the emergences, then we
are in favour of methods setting up entropic forces and thus driving the
system to the edge of chaos. But when we think of the immergences, then we
are against these methods and moving towards the edge of chaos.

What we do not realise, is that the emergences do not happen automatically
(or even simplistically) at the edge of chaos. These emergences are rather
highly contingent. In other words, they will only occur if a very complex
manifold of sufficiencies have been satisfied. This manifold of essential
patterns are so complex that the majority of those who think earnestly
about emergences, believe that emergences will remain a mystery for ever.
A few brave ones thought otherwise. Some considered sureness to be
essential and develop the philosophy of positivism (positivism = sureness
+ emergence). Others considered wholeness to be essential and developed
the philosophy of holism (holism = wholeness + emergence).

But few braves will still subscribe to positivism because it failed in
most cases. Many hesitate to subscribe to holism, also fearing that it
will eventually fail. So the number of braves trying to clarify the
mystery of emergences become less and less. But what if the emergences
depend on an extensive number of essential patterns? What if the
impairing or deficiency of any essential pattern will impair the emergence
or even cause its opposite, namely an immergence? In other words, we have
to reckon with the possibility that emergences depend on a manifold of
essential patterns, each pattern mature enough for the emergence at hand.

Whatever the manifold of essential patterns constitute, if it is complex,
then we can explain why we do not favour entropic forces which drives us
to the edge of chaos. If we do not know this complex manifold, we will not
know whether an essential pattern in it is impaired or not. Thus we have
to expect also an immergence rather than merely an emergence. And who of
us desire immergences rather than emergences?

I call the "manifold of patterns essential for emergences" the seven
essentialities of creativity. Two of the essentialities are sureness and
wholeness. But using these two words in such a sense already simplifies
the manifold too much for me. Therefor I use rather the double barrel
names "identitiy-categoricity" for sureness and "associativity-monadicity"
for wholeness. The same principle applies to the other five
essentialities. The double barrel name for each one cautions us not to
think of each essentiality as a simple pattern.

I have mentioned the two essentialities "identitiy-categoricity" and
"associativity-monadicity" for a very definite reason. Work through all
the contributions in the archives on any of the topics in "ranking,
competing, rating, praising, rewarding" and observe how many times
questions to the effect "are you sure?" and "do you account for the
whole?" figure. In other words, there is a tacit knowledge in each of us
that emergences depend on some patterns. But if we cannot articulate this
tacit knowledge, how will we ever be able to manage our emergences?

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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