Faith Communities and Learning Organizations LO21926

AM de Lange (
Wed, 16 Jun 1999 22:05:41 +0200

Replying to LO21891 --

Dear Organlearners,

Richard GOODALE" <> writes:

>Dear John (and At)
>Please let me respectfully disagree. There is only one level to
>Learning and that is an unfathomable and ineffable level called
>Curiosity. The moment that one uses words such as "highest
>level" and "faith," is the moment that one has renounced their
>innate capacity to be unequivocably curious. Without
>unequivocable curiosity, one can learn only within the very
>narrow boundaries of ones past experience or the even more
>narrow boundaries of ones faith.

Greetings Richard,

Thanks for bringing curiosity into the picture of LOs in Faith

Before we go any further, let us first try to establish what curiosity is.
I would try to describe it WITH RESPECT TO LEARNING as taking an interest
in learning because of the novelty and rejuvenation which learning brings

I have taught thousands of pupils and students. I have observed that some
were curious about the things which they learn while others could not care
a dime. It was a pleasure to teach those who were curious. It was
difficult to keep caring for the non-curious who learnt only to obtain
their blasting ticket (qualification). Curious learners almost invariably
became life-long learners. Non-curious learners usually stopped learning,
often even before the qualification which they intended to obtain.

It was definitely not faith which impaired the curiosity of learners.
Among the learners who were strong believers there were curious learners
as well as learners with no interest . Some other learners clearly
indicated that they did not care at all about faith. Yet among them there
were some with a burning curiosity.

Gradually I began to try and perceive what made learners curious. It was
definitely not me because I failed in helping so many learners to become
curious. It was definitely also not the IQ of the learners because curious
learners were to be found over the entire IQ range. Eventually it dawned
on me that the curious learner is by large self responsible for his/her
curiosity while the disinterested learner depended on external forces to
keep going. Year by year it became clearer to me that curiosity and
self-organisation were intimately connected. But how?

I also began to notice that a curious learner also often manifest some
other peculiar qualities like exitement, aspirations and happiness. On the
other hand, the disinterested learner seldom got exited, usually expected
certification with the minimum of work and often complained about mere
trivialities. Curiosity was not on its own, but part of a much complexer
fabric. Then, in the early eighties, after I managed to distinguish
between emergent learning and digestive learning, I was also able to
pinpoint curiosity (as well as its co-adjoints) to emergent rather than
digestive learning.

I will agree with you in the sense that placing a lid (ceiling, limit) on
learning quenches curiosity. That lid need not be only "highest level" and
"faith" as you have indicated. Anything which impairs emergent learning
will also impairs its adjoints such as curiosity and happiness. The
question is -- what will impair emergent learning? When answering this
question, we should be very carefull not to confuse the vehicle which
carries the pisons to emergent learning with these poisons themselves. In
my opinion faith is not the poison, although often it can become the
vehicle for carrying such poisons.

A Learning Organisation cannot sustain itself when its members learn
intermittedly or some members even stop learning all together. If we bear
in mind my description of curiosity above with respect to learning,
namely, curiosity is interesting oneself in learning because of the
novelty and rejuvenation which learning brings about, then it is clear
that curiosity is essential to the continual learning of each member of a
LO. Consequently, if we cannot guide the members of an organisation to
develop their curiosity, we cannot have any hope of transforming that
organisation into a LO.

When we wish to understand the role which curiosity plays in a faith
community, we will have to understand the relationship between the act of
learning and the act of believing. Is curiosity only related to learning
and not also to believing?

Here is my description of curiosity with respect to believing: curiosity
is to interest oneself in believing because of the novelty and
rejuvenation which believing brings about. Is it not a curious
description? But is it an apt description?

By the way, the word church is derived form the Greek word "kyriakon". It
was the name given to the gathering of the early Christians almost two
millenia ago. One interpretation is that this word means "house of the
Lord". The other interpretation is that it means "excited interest in the
Lord". The latter interpretation corresponds with the Latin word
"curiositas". I was brought up in church with the former interpretation.
Today I am much more comfortable with the second interpretation.

>In the spirit of continuous inquiry

That I will try to keep on honouring.

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

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>