Bateson and Argyris
Mon, 21 Nov 94 11:14:06 EST

Marilyn Darling,

Do Level I & II correspond to Chris Argyris' Single loop learning and III to
double loop learning?

Deanna Berg

Deanna, I've never tried to compare Chris' S-L, D-L learning in relation to
Bateson's levels, though I understand from my brief introduction that they are
related. In that D-L learning, as I understand it, stands in a "meta" position
to S-L learning, I would assume that at any given level, D-L learning would
refer to the level above it. Ragnvald's exposure to both Bateson and Argyris
puts him in a better position to respond.

I wrote my description of Bateson's levels from memory from a paper I wrote 20
years ago. As I reviewed my memories over the weekend, I recalled disagreeing
with Bateson on how you split the levels apart. I recall his seeing a bigger
breach between levels II and III, with Level III being much less common and
accessible than I've portrayed it. In that sense, I think I agree with
Ragnvald's beginning comment that you would get different answers depending on
who you asked. Bateson might see D-L learning as more similar to Level II. I
wouldn't have thought to put Bateson and Argyris on different dimensions as
Ragnvald has, but I would be interested in knowing if this creates an "aha!"
for anyone else on the list.

Marilyn Darling

Ragnvald's comment:
You would probaly get different answers by asking Bateson or Argyris. In my
opinion, Learning I and Single-Loop learning are quite similar concepts,
and Learning III has similar characteristics as Double-Loop learning. I
think that Learning II fall in between, being and advanced Single-Loop
learning or a Double-Loop learning.

In my kind, these concepts cover the same range of learning, and the
difficulty in comparing them arises from the choice of using a three step
scale versus a two-step scale. Trying to fit those together by putting
Learning II into either Single-Loop or Double-Loop learning will not make
justice to any of the learning models.

I also know that there is diagreement on whether these Bateson's and
Argyris' concepts cover the same aspects of learning or not. If not, they
should be regarded as describing two different dimensions of learning:

Learning I Learning II Learning III