Re: Emergent Learning LO1966
Thu, 6 Jul 95 16:16:10 GMT

Replying to LO1934...

Michael McMaster said, responding to Doug Seeley's LO1921

"I think we get too complicated trying to figure out how to do it
rather than just figuring out how to let it happen, how to get out of the
way, how to create the space for it and trust that it will occur."

I agree. However, I would add that it is also crucial to be open
to, respect, and encourage the kind of learning might be coming out of
such situations. My own experience with emergent learning is that the
result is usually highly creative and non-linear. The "knowledge" is
tacit. Experience of a very different kind. Unfortunately, it's
extremely difficult to communicate its validity to those who place value
mainly on explication and analysis. Or to those who believe knowledge is
generated by "experts". I can't easily explain how I arrive at what I
"know"; and what's more, since I "trust" the process and "trust" my own
capabilities, I put no attention on tracking my path. I don't consider it
important. My attention is placed on the interplay of variables at
multiple levels, reading the environment, creating new order, new
associations, discovering where it all might lead. It is highly intuitive
and empathic. I can't recite a theory to save my life, however, it
doesn't mean I don't understand it in significant ways or can't use it as
creative fodder. Usually, I'm put off by others to the role of "artist".
Creativity equated with illogical. A pity. Frankly, I find the process
personally incredibly rewarding, professionally, a nightmare.

In my experience, a proper environment is crucial. Important for
me are:
1) not to feel judged or have expectations set on me, neither from
myself nor from others,
2) not to "need" the outcome of such processes to feed or build the ego,
such as seeking approval (in fact, "losing" one's ego would seem to me to
be a precursor),
3) an unstructured environment. I have to "listen to myself" and follow
my own rhythms. I create my own "structure",
4) There is a sense of being beyond time and space, concentrating my
attention. Silence and solitude are a must.
5) feeling comfortable, in a "safe" place,
6) letting go of all "shoulds", openness to treading new paths,
7) respect for intuition, "gut feelings",
8) having faith in my own validity.

I'll usually start by relaxing, poking through different books, letting my
mind get drawn into thoughts and patterns. I let it stay random. I don't
start with a clearcut goal. It requires entering a certain frame of mind.
Getting beyond pre-fixed boundaries and distinctions.

A point to consider. In order to "create space for it and trust
that it will occur" you've got to know it exists as an option. I'm afraid
that for too many people creativity, emotions, self-knowledge in this
sense, are non-issues. There's no understanding of how to approach them.
They're too cloaked in mysticism. There's an undercurrent of fear of
opening Pandora's box and *losing control*. The dark side that needs to
be held at bay, dominated through the light of reason - so to speak.

In fact, I myself was completely unprepared for emergent learning.
It emerged, in every sense of the word, as a sort of "survival tactic", on
the part of my unconscious, towards healing, towards unity. It began
during a period of incredible mental duress, an altered state of
consciousness. The only thing that kept me from entering a state of
neurosis was by following a vague sense within me that I shouldn't lose
faith in myself. Luckily for me I was far from home at the time and could
work it all out without lots of questions from anyone. I was opening
myself up to a whole process of self-discovery, and emergent learning, but
I say this looking back. I was a bit worried for myself at the time. My
"typical" US upbringing and education (I have a BA in Administrative
Sciences with a minor in economics) provided no basis for understanding
the workings of the mind.

Here's another point to consider. It seems to me that many
(most?) people do not understand themselves as evolving systems. It's
much more mechanistic and static. A person is a fully formed machine of
flesh that sometimes breaks down, and needs a doctor/mechanic to fix it.
Sickness is seen as invading and hostile. Whether physical or
psychological. If we were to understand sickness and suffering as a part
of an overall transformative process, that self-healing is not only
possible, it is preferable for self-understanding and "systemic
integrity", we might have a necessary mechanism for a "learning organism"
in development. I have found in my own personal growth and in my creative
endeavors that the metaphor of complex dynamic systems with a progression
of order - chaos - new order is a very powerful one indeed. It is
ultimately very optimistic. It doesn't let you give up hope in periods of


Jackie Mullen