What is an emergence? LO20237

jmain (jmain@junix.ju.edu)
Mon, 21 Dec 1998 01:26:13 -0400

Replying to LO20231 --

Winfried Dressler wrote:

> Leo Minnigh asked, using a metaphor from At de Lange:
> >How could
> >we be the baker, so that all the squatters become a cake in the oven of
> >the city? How could we avoid the hurting of the ingredients, instead of
> >breaking and matching the molecules at the right places in the right
> >order, so that the mixture becomes a tasty and lighty pastry

Winfried, you always add such thought provoking questions and ideas . .
. .

> My pessimistic answer is: I cannot be the baker. Trying to be the baker
> reminds me of the little bird, lying on its back unable to fly with its
> companions, which, when asked "why" answered: I have to carry the whole
> world.

. . . "to carry the whole world" . . . to have to know THE answers? Are
there certain answers that are right? Situations when only those answers
will work? Even if there were, should we give the answers? Or create the
open learning community atmosphere and resources so they can emerge from
those who are involved.

So, Winfried, you sent me back to a book I recently read and have reread
many times because the ideas express so well what I feel, think and
believe strongly from the experiences I've had in working with teachers in
teacher education . . . . The learning experiences they have designed to
guide students to learn with deeper understanding in the most enjoyable
ways emerge when possible processes and many ideas are shared, then the
teachers put them together in ways they know will reach their students,
when they are trusted and encouraged to create their own designs for

The following is one of my favorites . . . a quote from A Simpler Way by
Margaret J. Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers . . .

"How do we support our natural desire to organize and the world's natural
desire to assist us? It begins with a change in our beliefs. We give up
believing that we design the world into existance and instead take up
roles in support of its flourishing. We work with what is available and
encourage forms to come forth. We foster tinkering and discovery. We
help create connections. We nourish with information. We stay clear
about what we want to accomplish. We remember that people self-organize
and trust them to do so.

When we work with organizing-as-process rather than
organization-as-object, it changes what we do. Processes do their own
work. Our task is to provide what they need to begin their work. Do
people need resources,or information, or access to new people? . . . .

This is a new way of thinking about our responsibilities. In a
self-organizing system, people do for themselves most of what in the past
has been done to them. Self-organizing systems create their own
structures, patterns of behavior, and processes for accomplishing. They
design what's necessary to do the work. They agree on behaviors and
relationships that make sense to them. Those of us not directly involved
in the doing of their work can give up fussing about designs, or believing
that our timelines make things happen, or that our training programs
change the behavior of the organization.

In self organization, structures emerge. They are not imposed. They
spring from the process of doing the work. These structures will be
useful but temporary. We can expect them to emerge and recede as needed.
It is not the design of a specific structure that requires our attention
but rather the conditions that will support the emergence of necessary

> My optimistic answer is: I neednot be the baker. I have still some faith
> and hope left, that not all what happens must be made by humans.

So . . . do we need to be the baker who supplies all of the "necessary"
ingredients, the process, and the product to be followed step by step?
Personally, I believe all that happens is not made by humans. That when we
are open to the flow coming from within the group and from wherever we get
our inspiration, many times the Creator, very appropriate and wonderfully
creative designs for learning emerge . . . designs for scaffolding
students to become self-directed learners . . . our goal.

June Main


jmain <jmain@junix.ju.edu>

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