Not very conceptual? LO22710

AM de Lange (
Wed, 22 Sep 1999 13:58:32 +0200

Dear Organlearners,

Greetings to you all.

Somebody wrote to me in private and hence I have to keep this person's
name confidential. Let us assume the person is a male.

This person is a keen observer of child learning and has an extraordinary
perception of how they actually learn. I suggested that the person create
his own Systems Thinking to give an account of child learning and how it
fits into the wider picture of human behaviour.

I could have suggested to this person to study my theory of "deep
creativity" (creative systems) and how his observations and perceptions
fit into (the subsystem) "authentic learning", one of the emergences of
creating (the act of creativity). It struck me how this person's own
thoughts fit into my own Systems Thinking (not mental model).

But that would jeopardise the very spirit of authentic learning since the
person would then merely import what I have created without self creating
anything substantial and thus learn emergently from it. I reminded myself
to be ready to commute with what Systems Thinking (or at least mental
model) would emerge from this person and how it was related to my own
Systems Thinking. I was hoping that it would not take ages for this to
happen since the life span of each of us is limited.

The person replied with the following remarkable paragraph:

>Thanks for your enthusuaism and encouragement. Can you
>expand on what you mean by a "Systems Thinking"? I am
>not very conceptual but love examples. What would one look
>like and where would I find one?

The first thing which I noticed, is "Thanks for your enthusuaism and
encouragement." When one encourages authentic learning (irreversible
self-organisation) in any kid, the kid will respond with some appreciation
for having been given the opportunity to create self. There is a positive
and a negative side to this appreciation. The positive side is that some
constructive emergence already has happened within the kid because this
appreciation is the spiritual adjoint of this emergence. The negative side
is that the kid has already experienced destructive immergences caused by
other people and not self. In other words, the kid already has experiences
of the lack of organisational learning in individual learning.

This person, as an adult, is really into child learning and not trying to
conform it to adult learning. I see in this "walk the talk" the
autheticity of the person's own learning.

The second thing which I noticed, is between the words in the sentence
"Can you expand on what you mean by a "Systems Thinking"?". This person
wants me to do what I actually want him to do, namely to so some original
Systems Thinking. People strongly influenced by rote learning will
conclude that this is an example of rote learning by copying. Thus for
them this sentence is a perfect example of authentic learning shooting
itself in the foot -- wanting to be a conformist by seeking acceptance
among peers and by seniors.

However, long before kids have been subjected excessively to extensive
rote learning and all its ramifications like imitations and fashions, they
are already intuitively aware of "examples in the world-outside-me". In
other words, they already have experiences and tacit knowledge on Systems
Thinking. At first a kid is deeply aware of him(her)self and only dimly
aware of other people and things. In other words, the "world-inside-me"
is for the kid initially much more actual than the "world-outside-me".
Hence this finding of "occurances in the world-outside-me" becomes a
confirmation of the experential and tacit knowledge of the
"world-inside-me" of the kid.

The three systems which the kid thus becomes experentially
and tacitly (but not formally) aware of, is the
system SY = "world-inside-me"
system of surroundings SU = "world-outside-me"
system of universe UN = SY & SU
The kid then brings CREATIVELY more and more of the SU into
the SY so as to enrich (complexify) the SY. In the various
systemic theories for complexity thinking we would say the
kid practice "irreversible self-organisation" (Prigogine),
"autopoiesis" (Maturana), "complex adaptation" (Kauffman) or
"deep creativity" (myself).

Rote learning is but a feignt image of this complexification process --
the evolution or one-to-many-mapping of the SY when in commutation with
the rest (SU) of reality (UN).

By asking me to expand on what I mean by "Systems Thinking", the person
asks me to set an example of Systems Thinking rather than give a
theoretical account of it. Rote learners would have interpreted this
question differently, especially when supplied with additional information
that this person is a feellow learner on this list. Many rote learners
will exclaim: "This person is on the LO list and still have no memory on
the Fith Disciple (System Thinkin) of Learning Organisations -- how
ignorant can one be!"

However, in the very next sentence the person writes: "I am not very
conceptual but love examples". For the rote learner this will be the
cherry on the cake -- the final confirmation that this person is an
ignoramus. But for the authentic learner this sentence is incredibly rich
in its ramifications. Firstly, like for kids, the "walk with the talk" is
much more actual than only the talk. The person offers a reason why he is
not very conceptual -- he loves examples. Thus it seems to me that he is
very wary of the cheep talk in cognitive activities. In my own language
"Soveel letters, soveel ketters" (so many letters, so many heretics).

Secondly, the person supplies a very comportant clue with his (my
capitalisation) "...LOVE examples". Now let us trace this relationship
between "love" and "examples" by some Systsems Thinking.

In authentic learning we have to distinguish between setting "holotypes",
i.e. examples which are original for (first among) all human individuals
and "kainotypes", i.e. examples which are original for the particular
individual, but not for other individuals. Newton's Law of Gravitation
and Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity are "holotypes". But
Einstein's General Theory of Relativity is a "kainotype" because although
in it he acknowledges gravitation like Newton did many centuries before
him, he tried with it to give a new explanation for gravitation in terms
of his "holotype".

When the kid search (or wishes) for examples in the "world-outside-me" the
kid is already buzzy with a remarkable evaluation -- must the kid walk
him(her)self into the unknown or will he(she) walk where others have
walked before. (How many times have you heard a kid saying: "Leave me
alone, I want to do it myself".) In other words, must the kid keep on
using his(her) holotype as the unit of measure or should he(she)
substitute it with a kainotype. To keep on using the holotype requires the
free energy of believing (where believing is an emergent of learning).

To keep on using the holotype when almost everything else seems to point
against it, can be either extremely courageous or excessively fool-hardy.
This is where the act of loving (the emergent of believing) comes into the
picture. If loving results in eros, sustaining with the holotype becomes
ignorance. But when loving results in agape, sustaining with holotype
becomes sheer bravery. The best example I can think of, is the biblical
incident of Abraham who had to offer his son Isaac. He was willing to do
it because of agape, a one-to-many-mapping of loving which included even

In the next sentence this person asks: "What would one look like and where
would I find one?" In terms of rote learning we would have refered him to
Peter Senge and his book The Fifth Discipline (the holotype). But in terms
of authentic learning we must do what the person asks -- "if somebody asks
you to walk a mile with him, then walk two miles with him" (the
kainotype). If a kid asks an adult a question, that question is more
valuable than all the gold in the world. Never ignore or sidestep a
question or forget to follow it hope at a more suitable time.

So what I did in this contribution is to give this person a minor
example (a kainotype) of Systems Thinking and tell him where
to find another much more expanded example in the Fifth
Discipline (the holotype). In a private reply to him I merely talked,
giving a road map as an example of Systems Thinking. We use
the road map (Systems Thinking) to know where is
the place of departure (any point A on the map),
the place of destination (any point B on the map), and
the route which we have to plan to go from A to B.
But in this contribution I walked the talk.

In my private reply I used as little concepts as possible. In this
contribution I did not avoid concepts when they were necessary. However, I
avoided other concepts (places and roads on the map) which are related to
the one which I used. They are concepts like entropy production, chaos,
order, essentialities of creativity, etc. Mastering these concepts were
not easy and fast for me. I have a natural adversity against accepting
(importing) concepts which do not fit readily into my Systems Thinking.
Perhaps this adversity makes me also not very conceptual.

However, the other side of the coin is that the feedback of this adversity
makes me, perhaps, too much conceptual. I have to hunt far and deep for
the "holotype" of a species concept when I create a specimen concept
myself to fill up holes in my Systems Thinking. I fully realise that when
I begin to talk about my specimen concepts which I have created and named
myself (so that I could talk about them), I may duplicating (within
bounds) something which already had been done before by someone else AND
given a different name.

I do it because each of us AS LEARNING INDIVIDUALS has the RIGHT to
introduce additional named specimens into the dialogue. Because of the
very dialogue they eventually all may prove to belong to the same species
concept. Many names for different specimens of the same species
complicates Systems Thinking involving already complex systems very much.
I try to avoid it. Thus I believe that each of us also has a
RESPONSIBILITY in terms of the RIGHT (to create and name concepts). That
right for individual learning boils down to the responsibility for
organisational learning -- the willingness to share our speciemen concepts
among each other and eventually find the most suitable name for the
species (shared) concept.

By the way, the name "holotype" comes from biological systematics. It is
part of a whole bunch of similar terms (neotype, isotype, syntype,
lectotype, iconotype, etc.), each having its own taxonomic function. The
name "kainotype" is a creation of my own. The Greek word "kainos" means
"new" in the sense of freshly prepared, for example, a "new bottle" to
pour wine into or a "new grave" to put a body into.

What is new in any bottle or grave? Virtually everything which a kid
create is new for that kid. But how is the adult's creations for that
adult? Have we as adults not become too cynical about creativity? The
wisdom of Jesus is that we have to become like kids if we want to be heirs
to the kingdom of the Creator -- if we want to pursue creativity as an
astounding property of this universe.

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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