Creating a Passion for Learning LO17368

Mnr AM de Lange (
Tue, 10 Mar 1998 10:26:36 GMT+2

Replying to LO17341 --

Dear Organlearners,

Steve Eskow" <> writes, in reply to my:

> >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 help.
> But: At 's statement is the kind of half truth we might want to avoid.
> Consider the child facing a jig saw puzzle, or video game, or cryptogram
> that needs to be decoded: it is the complexity that is the excitement, the
> challenge that moves the child to attempt to order the complexity, break
> the code, find the pattern,

Steve, you are right, the sentence as it stands in isolation of the rest
of my contrubution, seems to be a half-truth. Thus happens when we comment
on statements out of context.

We have to bear in mind the "measure of complexity". Most children of age
5 will still try to fit a puzzle of 100 pieces together. But very few of
them will try to fit a puzzle of 1000 pieces together. On the other hand,
should we persist giving the child 10 piece puzzles, the child's passion
will equally be quenched. By giving the 5 year old child a 100 piece
rather than a 10 piece or a 1000 piece puzzle, we begin to manage

Obviously, the child must eventually learn how to manage self complexity.

> Bad teachers put the puzzle together for the child, present the child with
> all the answers, and extinguish the passion of the search.

I agree. There is no emergent learning for the child. As I have said so
often, emergent learning has adjoints such as happiness, curiosity and
passion. Thus the child is left spiritually poor. Even the teacher who
merely repeats what he/she once self learned emergently, does not benefit
by doing things which the child should have done.

> Good teachers present students with enough complexity so that their
> passions are not dulled by simplicity.

Agreed. See my example above.

But how do we measure complexity in general - and not necessarily that of
a jig saw puzzle? Stafford Beer says that we measure it in terms of
variety. However, variety is but one of the seven essentialities of
creativity. The other six must also be used to express complexity in full.
Thus the measuring of complexity becomes a complex procedure. As such it
can quench our passion for learning about complexity, especially when we
still have no desire to manage complexity.

Best wishes


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

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