School as a learning experience LO23389

AM de Lange (
Thu, 25 Nov 1999 15:28:14 +0200

Replying to LO23282 --

Dear Organlearners,

Leo Minnigh <> writes:

>John, because of economic reasons, I have not copied your
>example. But it is great, and I hope that readers have noticed it
>in LO23244 (it is the demonstration of the learning process by
>the teacher, using a flute). This message triggered a lot of thinking
>with me and I am still looking how I could use in some way this
>suggestion. But I am keen to copy your last sentence, because it
>could be (or should be) the adagium of all learning organisations:
>John Holt thought (I think correctly) that it might be more useful for
>them to see a model of how to learn rather than a model of someone
>who had learned already.

Greetings Leo,

Thank you for highlighting once again the important point which John has

People consider Newton as the father of science because he has based his
law of gravitation (the first law of the physical world to be discovered)
on observations. But almost four hundred years before him Roger Bacon had
the prophetic insight that physics (the term used in the 13th for what we
now call science) will only advance once speculations are based on
observations and not other speculations.

It is with learning very much like with scientific thinking. When we want
to learn how structure (being) is changed by a process (becoming) into a
different structure, we have to observe both the structure and process
very closely. We have to try and observe as much details of as many kinds
as our "guts" enable us to do. Obviously, that which we observe as
immature (juvenile) learners is far less complex than that which we will
observe as mature learners. However, irrespective of our "learning age"
and thus the degree of complexity we can handel, we should always try to
observe as complex as possible.

The task of the teacher is somewhat different to the task of the learner.
When the teacher observe that the learners observe not enough complexity,
he/she has to guide them how to observe a greater complexity by making the
complexity turbid. But the learners may go overboard by observing too much
complexity. The effect of this overwhelming complexity is to intimidate
the learners and hence destroy their guts to observe. Hence the teacher
has to make some of complexity transparent.

The big problem arrives when the learner has to learn through observation
that specific process called learning. This "learning of learning" is
sometimes called "double loop learning". This "learning of learning" can
also be called "second order learning". Whereas "first order learning"
(the learning about anything except learning) is an individual ("dassein")
process, the "second order learning" is a collective ("mitsein") process.
The reason is that it is very difficult to observe one's own mind (subject
becomes object) unless one make use of "mind mirrors".

A human is not born preprogrammed (prewired) for learning (first and
second order). Thus the learning has to be facilitated. The first order
learning is facilitated by "dassein" creativity (to learn is to create)
from below and second order learning from above. But the second order
learning itself is fasilitated by observing the first order learning of
others PROVIDED THEY REVEAL IT. Hence when learning begins at a young
age, it is predominantly second order learning based on "mitsein"
creativity. (Think how important the interaction between mother-father and
baby is.)

In some cultures this "second order" learning fails to facilitate the
"first order" learning. Hence the second order learning degenerates into
rote learning (copy other learners rather than learning from them how to
learn self). Such cultures (like most African cultures) have an affinity
for collectivism, but react negatively towards individualism. In the other
cultures (like most European cultures) second order learning is
terminated at a young age so that only first order learning develops any
further. Such cultures are negative towards collectivism and rather will
embrace individualism.

As a teacher I tried to determine as soon as possible for each pupil which
of "dassein" or "mitsein" has developed best. I was a school teacher
during the apartheid era. All my pupils was white children of which 95%
lacked "mitsein" learning. Thus I had to show them frequently how I learn.

Leo, I strongly suspect that most of your pupils will lack much in second
order learning. Thus you will have to show them how you learn. (When you
lack in it too, you will have to be honest with them and ask them to show
you how they learn.) You can make use of a black (chalk) board, but take
extreme care not to expose your back to them for more than 30 seconds. The
best is to learn writing on the black board with your body not facing it,
but making an angle of 90 degrees with it. Then you are able to swing your
head through 180 degrees from the board to the pupils and back. This
period of swinging should not be more than 10 seconds.

The overhead projector was a gift form heaven and hell. It is a gift from
heaven because now one faces both the medium and the pupils in the same
direction. It is a gift from hell because now teachers can write their
notes in advance, thus promoting rote learning even more. Try to write (NB
not prepare) as little notes as possible in advance. Those which you do
prepare, you will have to "unfold concept by concept" in class by covering
the remainder of the note on the transparency by opaque paper. You will
perhaps work a lot with maps since you teach geography. Thus you will have
to do the same by cutting opaque overlays, sticking them to the sides, and
then folding them away in a particular sequence.

The most powerful way to teach the pupils-students is to make use of one
(or more) of the five elementary sustainers of creativity (dialogue,
problem solving, exemplar exploring, game playing and art expressing).
John's reference to Holt concerns "art expressing". What you have to do,
is to use that exmplar and let the learners observe how you interact with
it, REVEALING YOUR LEARNING in such interaction. In other words, you will
have to express your learning in ways which will reach at least one of
their five senses. Holt's example connected to their ears and sight. A
chemistry teacher is in the fortunate position to make aslo conatct with
their taste and smell.

If you are not yet a master teacher, it is very important to study IN
ADVANCE as closely as possible the sustainer and its instanteation
(subject, topic) which you intend to use in class. As a novice teacher
your first encounter with the sustainer+instant should never be in the
class because then you are tendering for trouble. But it is most important
for novice and master teachers alike NEVER TO USE THE PRESTUDY as the
actual sustainer+instant in class. Let me explain. When you make use of
problem-solving, make sure in advance that you are at least able to solve
it. You also ought to think how you created the solution -- the second
order thinking. But you should never present both the problem and its
solution in class. Present only the problem and then recreate the
solution in front of the learners.

I call the use of a prestudied sustainer+instant an artificial use of the
sustainer. The difference between a novice teacher and master teacher is
this. A novice teacher has to use the sustainers artificially, i.e to
study closely the sustainer(s) and its instanteations in advance. The
master teacher uses these sustainers naturally rather than artificially.
By this I do not mean that the master teacher do not cease studying
sustainers+instants in advance. What I mean is that the master teacher
allows the learners to indicate (determine) what sustainer and its
instanteations will unfold in class. The prestudied sustainer+instants are
only used when the learners fail to respond. For example, allow the
learner to select the problem which you then will have to solve for the

This how I do it. A particular learner selects a particular problem. Then
I as teacher first make sure that all other learners focus on the problem.
The best way, if the problem is not to elaborate, to write it on a clean
transparency in a pen with BLACK ink. Then I begin to answer it in a
black. I use only black for that parts which I want the learner to present
to me should the learner had to solve the problem self. Any creation which
I make in my mind when solving the problem, I express on the transparency
in GREEN WHILE I am creating it. It is usually cryptic signs, words,
arrows, icons, whatever at that stage illustrate my mental creation best.
They can pop up at any moment at any place in the solution, often even in
its remainder which not yet has been actualised. Any learning which
emerges in me as a result of my creating, (even though I often have to
fake that such emergent learning is novel), I express on the transparency
in RED WHILE that learning emerges.

In summary. The whole (problem and its solution) consists of black, green
and red parts. The black parts occur in a linear and sequential manner. It
makes use of technical and natural language in the standard conformation.
It signals the final digestive learning happening close to equilibrium
(see Digestor). Never begin in a blank with a black part, but only end
with a black part. Always begin with something in green before you end in

The green parts seemed to be scattered randomly as if representing chaos.
The order in them is apparent only to those learners who have observed
their manifestations one by one. That order makes sense in terms of the
theory of "deep creativity". Those perceptive to "deep creativity" will
see how, for example, the seven essentialities and entropic force-flux
pairs abound in these green cryptic signs, although the teacher will never
discussed them or even merely call them by name. Strangely enough,
although learners accept their validity and necessity, they never question
these green parts and the patterns in them. They are consicous of it as
content, but not as form. Its like being conscious of your beating heart,
but never focussing on your beating heart.

The red parts usually have strange, yet compelling, patterns (often
diverging and converging) in them. They express the various emergences in
learning along the path of the solution. They often links one (resp many)
part in black to many (resp one) part in black. They often show
bifurcation of which one leg (the emergent one) goes back to a part in
black while the other leg (the immergent one) goes away from the solution,
never connecting with any black part.

I have given a very elborate description. Do not expect your own attempts
to be as elaborate as that. Remember that everything has to evolve, even
you own second order learning. Your use of green, red and black (in taht
order) will articulate/signal to you how much you have mastered secon
order learning. You can call yourself a master once the problem and its
solution look like a christmas tree -- black stem, green leaves and red

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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