Prioritizing Who for Formal Learning LO20549

Marc Coenders (
Tue, 2 Feb 1999 17:22:12 +0100

Replying to LO20537 --

Linda Wing's quenstions:
>....Is learning for empowerment within process
>re-engineering empowerment, or another form of control of the individual
>working within the process? These rhetorical questions foster deep
>insight when I am working with clients who wish to create learning in
>their organizations for empowerment. Sometimes we are so deep into our
>own paradigms that we can't see that we are manifesting more of the same
>type of social experience through attempting to remedy our current way of
>doing business.

More thoughts on learning... and an upcoming question

In addition to the contribution of Linda, I would like to stress the
process character of learning. There are indeed multiple ways of learning,
but the word 'way' is significant. Learning as a process is often
discussed as a matter of cyclic and/or linear subprocesses. But to me
certain meta aspects (e.g. attitude towards learning) and relational
aspects (e.g. the position or perspective towards a subject matter or an
object) are important. Learning is much more unique than we
(professionals in learning and development) often assume. This is even the
case when learning math. Children are already very creative in finding
and/or adjusting methods to solve math problems. The Freudenthal institute
in Holland researched this in normal classroom teaching situation. Within
a group of 30 pupils, 25 methods (some very different, some more
resembling) methods to rather simple math tasks were registered. Teaching
and approving only one method can really obstruct the learning process.

We have to recognize the existence of multiple perspectives and indeed
multiple truths. Certain situations appear to person A as a conflict, to
person B as a challenge, while person C approaches it as a destiny. If all
these persons want to make this situation to a learning event they have to
follow different ways. But on a meta level there may be similar aspects in
place. To participate, to be honest or to commit oneself to the
development of another person may for example beneficial to learning.

Professionals in learning and development try often to link learning
directly to the outcomes of learning tasks. But to me the changes in
perspectives (mental models and accompanying feelings) and ultimately the
changing relation to the world are much more important. This approach is
applicable to personal growth as well as acquiring skills or becoming an

That certain failures, certain feelings, certain worries no longer occur
are the indicators for being on a learning way. The relation to the cause
of these failures, feelings, worries, etc. is changed. True learning makes
learning easier, brings joy.

Monteil, a French researcher, found that first year students (I believe it
were law students) highly improved their chance to finish study if they
construct a mental model of the work and typical working environment of a
layer or attorney. My preliminary opinion is that the process character of
learning can only be established when a person is connected or feels
connected to a tradition or community. I wonder if participants of this
list agree or disagree with this opinion. And how does this relate to
organizational learning?

Marc Coenders

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Drs. M.J.J. Coenders MLD
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T ++31.35.5431222
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