Creating a Passion for Learning LO17312

Mnr AM de Lange (
Fri, 6 Mar 1998 12:42:45 GMT+2

Replying to LO17270 --

Dear Organlearners,

Steve Barnett <> began his analysis of my
contribution on the topic with:

> However my current view is that this essentially reductionist
> analysis leads us away from the more directly useful qualitative
> reality that people are intrinsically passionate

and ended it with:

> It's unlikey that a whole lot of reductionist analysis is going
> to provide much new except perhaps some passion from those
> who are passionate about it.

Steve, it is clear that you evaluate my contrubtion as reductionistic. In
post-modern thinking the adjective "reductionistic" is used as a
disqualification of many outcomes of the modernistic era as a result of
reductionism. Thus it becomes important to judge whetehr your evaluation
of my contribution is correct.

It all has to with the act "reduce". The verb "reduce" has a surprisingly
richness of meanings. (Funk and Wagnell list 17 meanings!) But "to reduce
them", its Latin etymology gives the basic meaning ["re-"=back] and
["duco'=lead]. It entails that all these meanings have one thing in common
- going back against complexification. In other words, the act "reduce"
means to cut all connections leading to complexity until a "simple system"
has been obtained. For example, in a metal furnace a metal ore (consisting
of the metal and other elements like oxyen and sulfur) will be reduced by
carbon to obtain the pure (simple) metal. Another example - the downsizing
of organisations is often a redutionistic attempt to achieve a simpler
functioning of the organisation.

In my contribution I did exactly the opposite. I complexified "passion for
learning" by connecting it with "entropy production" and some concepts
which entails from it. Furthermore, should anyone study the LO-archives on
my contributions, he/she will find that I have written several times that
"entropy production is the primordial cause of all complexity". I have
also shown on many occasions how entropy production leads to other
organisational concepts. See for example my latest contribution on
"Entropic forces". Thus, to summarise: I have been working consistently in
the opposite direction of reductionism on this list. Consequently, in my
opnion, your evaluation of my contribution is incorrect.

I can argue that your own contribution is in fact reductionistic, but I
will not do so. A "tit-for-tat" game will help us little to understand
creativity, learning and learning organisations.

You wrote that "people are intrinsically passionate". The word "intrinsic"
means pertaining to the persevering nature or inner contents. Thus
"intrinsically passionate" means to me "essentially passionate".

But I wish to note that we have a language problem here. Let me illustrate
it with a closely related concept. With respect to any specific task,
people are spontaneous or nonspontaneous. In other words, when the person
does that task on own accord, the person act spontaneously. But when the
person has to be forced by external work and control to do the task, the
person acts nonspontaneously. Now, the property of being either
spontaneous or nonspontaneous, is called spontaneity.

Unfortunately, as far as I could ascertain, we do not yet have a name in
the English language for that property of humans of which the two possible
outcomes are "passionate" and "dull". But since English is not my mother
tongue, I plead guilty in advance for not being able to find such a word.
Maybe it is this "word" which you wanted to say with "intrinsically

You also wrote "To be passionate they do not need to understand the
entropic origins of implications of their passion." I agree when it
concerns a young learner like my granddaughter Jessica. Do you suspect
that I clutter her dear little mind with things which you list as "
entropic force-flux pairs, entropy production, equilibrium, edge of chaos,
bifurcations, emergences and immergences". I live every minute with her as
passionate as I can.

But I am also her grandfather. I see how her passion gets destroyed every
day. She needs me to rejuvenate her passion. That is why grandparents are
there for. My own passion alone cannot do it. The issue is much, much more
complex. As her mentor (midwife for her spiritual creations) I need to
know as much as possible. "Passion and knowledge" differs as much from
"passion and ignorance" as a nuclear reactor differs from a nuclear bomb.
This is how my nuclear reactor delivers its power. (Please note that
prudence is not the opposite of passion. Prudence keeps passion under

First of all, I have to find out what destructive event has quenched her
passion. It usually takes me roughly 5 minutes. Without any exception, it
boils down to "entropy production" and the complexity which it entails. I
then allow her to give me an indication what constructive event to design.
I then guide her through this event so that she experience an emergence
rather than the previous immergence which quenched her passion. With the
emergence comes its adjoints such as happiness, pryness, fondness and, not
the least, PASSION for the next emergent learning experience.

Here is an example of what I do. It happened last week and I have posted
it to another listserver.

Yesterday evening I was reading a very interesting first, private edition
of a book in the making "Holism and Consciousness: a study in
neuro-holography". My wife and our granddaughter Jessica (5 years) came
back from the gym where Jessica is taking swimming lessons. The swimming
teacher and Jessica do not get along very well. She often wants Jessica to
do things which Jessica considers as dangerous. Jessica uses reason and
not trust to indulge passionately into mysteries.

Jessica was very upset, complaining that she got a stomach ache during the
lesson. I tried to find out what was bothering her, but still do not know.
She also immediately insisted that I should read her a story. I was very
frustrated because I was buzy reading my own story. I then realised that
the advancement of my own creativity is by far not as important as her's,
since the power of creativity lies in its sharing. So I began to read her
a story (in my mother tongue) about the shoemaker and the two naked
dwarfs. (They came secretly in the night to make shoes for him. It is a
story about mystery, reason and trust.)

After the story, she begged me to read another one - the "running up" to
the "edge-of-chaos" now clearly manifestating itself. I said to her "No,
let us discuss this story." I then said to her: "You usually woke up much
earlier than your mother. What do you think will be your mother's reaction
when one day you secretly begin to clean up your room, the sitting room
and the kitchen, but not her room". She said that her mother would think
it was she who did the work. I said to her: "No, you must work very
quietly and then go back to bed. When she wakes you up, you simply deny
anything. Pretend to be as surprised as she is. Since she did not do it,
it will be a mystery only for her." Then a strange thing happened. Jessica
fell for five minutes in a state of deep contemplation, unconscious of the
world around her. Suddenly she looked up to me with bright staring eyes,
saying: "Grandpa, my stomach ache is gone." She ran to the kitchen to find
something to eat. I took up the manuscript to read where I left off. It
was the following (p81):

In practical terms all intervention is adequately covered by the
discipline of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). The various
techniques used in NLP are directed at upgrading [complexifying]
low integration complexes. When it relates to belief systems,
....., a process called 'mapping across' submodalities can be
used. Those submodalities relating to a positive experience are
identified ..... and anchored. Then those established
submodalities relating to the negative experience ..... are
identified and anchored. When the two anchors are fired
simultaneously, the anchors are "collapsed" and the exisiting
bias of complexes neutralised. The process of new integration
begins and by skillfully drawing on the submodalities of the
positive experience a positive bias is established.

What about learners other than Jessica? My biggest problem is the
socialising of education, big classes, making contact with a student
mainly through an academical subject, not knowing anything of his/her
personality. Thus, whereas in the case of Jessica I immediately search for
the destructive event, in the case of a student I also have to know more
about his/her personailty. Consequently it can easily take me an hour to
find the destructive event and design a suitable constructive event. In
this manner I have helped many students who seemed to have lost their
passion forever, the so-called dropouts.

I want to end this long contribution with the following statement:
"Complexity quenches passion, unless we know how to manage compelxity".
The statement "Passion is infectious." is too reductionistic to be of much

Best wishes


At de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre for Education University of Pretoria Pretoria, South Africa email:

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