Re: Learning vs. Innovation LO1449
Wed, 31 May 1995 07:49:23 -0600

Mike McMaster wrote in LO1400 --
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I think it might be worth distinguishing learning from innovation in this
conversation. I'd go about it this way:

Learning is a result of theory or concept and experience. The theory or
concept may be unaware or very "fuzzy" and the experience may be merely
mental. But they go together. That is, to make the point starkly, we
don't learn from experience. We first bring something to our action (even
if it's all mental) and learn from the resonance or disonance of the two.

Innovation is a result of recombination (occasionally mutation or purely
random events) of what is already integrated with other things and
contained in some (mental) identity. Seeking innovation requires
different processes than seeking learning.

The connection between the two is that innovation will be followed by
learning if the innovation is to "stick" and become useful.
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What understanding I have of current theories of learning and cognitive
functioning would suggest that "learning" begins with experience and that
"theory" proceeds from the accumulation of experiences into "memorable
patterns that are continuously renewed in the brain and accompaning "body
states." Hence, over time, theories are "experienced" and provide the
basis for further development of more complex theory, which again is
experienced. Part of the problem here, I suspect, is a lack of clear
understanding of what happens at the functional level when we have an
experience and what we mean on the experiential level by a theory.

David Justice
School for New Learning
DePaul University