Is learning our earnest? LO20577

AM de Lange (
Fri, 5 Feb 1999 16:27:53 +0200

Replying to LO20562 --

Dear Organlearners,

Mark Feenstra" <> writes:

>To me, to be "in earnest about learning" I need to be conscious
>enough of my description of reality for it to be open to learning
>and curious enough to ask questions that breach the boundaries
>of these descriptions. In other words I don't think I can really be
>in earnest about learning until my worldview is in turmoil ;-)
>.... this leads me to question what the other properties of the field
>might be that will allow me to function in the world whilst my
>worldview is in turmoil.
>So, is learning enough by itself to be in earnest about?

Dear Mark,

You have given your answer as an adult. I can give my answer as an adult.
But can adults give the best answers? Bear with me the following

Three weeks ago I had to enrole my granddaughter Jessica, aged six, for
her first year at primary school. The previous three years she spent at a
nursery school.

As I left her, I was thinking about how she developed through the past six
years into what she is now. I observed her closely. Many times she
astounded me with her creativity, her irreversible self-organisation and
her ability as a complex system to adapt in a changing world. I have
written about some of these things on this list. (Do some of you still
remember "The Blue Dog"?) But it suddenly struck me that although I am
aware of all these things, she has been aware of only one thing, namely
that she is a learning person.

Jessica addresses me as "Oupa", the Afrikaans for grandfather.

Three days later I asked her the following questions.
"Jessica, why are you able to talk?"
"Because I have learnt it, Oupa."

"Jessica, what do you know which you have not learnt?"
"Nothing, Oupa."

"Jessica, do you require anything to learn?"
"No, Oupa, it comes by by itself."

"Jessica, is playing more important than learning?"
"No, Oupa, but playing is a nice way of learning."

"Jessica, will it be nice to stop learning?"
"No, Oupa, then I will not become Jessica."
(Her words in Afrikaans were: "Nee Oupa, dan sal ek nie Jessica word
nie." I found her answering intriguing. At her present age she defines
herself in terms of her potentialities.)

"Jessica, what is learning?"
"Oupa, it is like breathing because it happens all the time."

"Jessica, where does this learning happens?"
"All inside me, Oupa".

Jessica, is learning part of you?"
"Yes, Oupa, like my blood is part of me. Wherever my body gets cut, I
find blood."

"Jessica, are you earnest about learning?"
"Yes, Oupa, that is how I am becoming an adult."

"But Oupa, why do you ask me these questions? Dont you get the answers
at the university where you work?"

"My child, we are only a bunch of adults at the university who have to
answer these questions. Children seems to know some pretty important
things because they all become adults. I have forgotten much about my
chilhhood. Maybe I also have forgotten how to become an adult. That is
why I have asked you these questions."

"Oupa, tell the people at the university that they must learn. By
learning they will become children again."

Her last answer shocked me. Is it not Jesus who have said that we
adults must become like children if we want to enter the kindom of
God? How do we become children? Can anyone give me a better answer
than Jessica?

It is under this impression of the importance of learning that I have
written "Is learning our earnest?" If Jessica did not show me that she
is absolutely earnest about learning, I would not have had the
necessary shift to metanoia which would enable me to articulate
(yesterday) "antilearning organisations" -- not organisations which
have learning disabilities, but organisations with activities which
oppose learning. Mark, your second last sentence ended in the phrase
"whilst my worldview is in turmoil." Can you imagine little Jessica as
the butterfly whose flapping wings caused the storm on the question
"Is learning our earnest?" and eventually the emergence (articulation)
of the concept "antilearning organisation"?

Best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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