Re: Emergent Learning LO2179

Tobin Quereau (
Fri, 21 Jul 1995 16:00:53 -0500 (CDT)

Replying to LO2084 --

Forgive the delay in this response, I took a couple of days off and am
pushing my way through the accumulated messages in my mailbox...

On Thu, 13 Jul 1995 wrote:


> I began to wonder about the kinds of assumptions we're all making
> regarding the _form_ of these database, or knowledgebase, systems. For
> some reason my mind wandered to -- of all people -- F. Scott Fitzgerald,
> and to the "knowledgebase" represented in his stories and novels. (You
> can substitute anyone you want; I happen to have a thing for Nicole and
> Dick Diver...) "Tender Is The Night" contains within it a helluva lot of
> knowledge, much of it, in fact, tacit. And that knowledge rests in
> Fitzgerald's language, in the acuity of his observations that, seemingly,
> have nothing to do with the plot per se, in his metaphors. (The use of
> language, by the way, is a whole other area that's started to fascinate me
> in connection with this list: Although I'm not one, I suspect
> deconstructionists would have a field day here, as would classical
> rhetoricians wanting to see how "debate" proceeds.) If it were otherwise,
> if all Fitzgerald did were to make assertions about the vagaries of human
> emotions and relations, I doubt any of us would find his work as
> compelling as it is (alright, as compelling as _I_ find it!). We can read
> it, absorb what he is saying, use it to illuminate our own inchoate
> perceptions, provide us with new ways of looking at both our own work and
> his, etc., etc.
> Which brings us, I guess, to Story Telling (remember Story Telling?).
> Here's a proposition -- which I'm concocting as I write -- I haven't
> thought this through, but it seemed worth getting on paper, so to speak:
> *a story is a knowledgebase, a means for articulating tacit, as well as
> explicit knowledge;
> *the beauty of a really good story is that the more tacit it is, the more
> effective it is;
> *a story can be collaboratively created;
> *a story is a (I almost said _the_...) vehicle by which knowledge can be
> dessiminated, altered, enhanced, and so on.


In reading your post, Ron, the second of your "propositions" sparked
something for me from a workshop some twelve years ago. Ivan Barzakov, a
master teacher in the area of accelerated learning, was describing the
impact of music and art on the ability to learn something new. He was
holding up a replica of a famous statue and commenting on the skill of the
sculptor and the impact of the art on the mind/brain. I realized at that
moment, that it is not just _what_ an artist includes in his or her piece
of art, but the interplay of what they do and do _not_ include.

In other words, a truly powerful work of art stimulates us to create our
own experience of the art internally--tacitly?--and it is this very
interplay or "interdependent causation" which makes the artwork come alive
for us. So that in that sense, no piece or work of art is ever created
_entirely_ by the artist, and the greatest skill or "art" of creation is
in sensing what is absolutely necessary for the experience to occur, and
then leaving _everything else_ to the viewer (or reader, or listener,
etc.) to fill in for himself or herself. It is the combination of _both_
participants that creates the meaning and the value in the experience.

So your reference to F. Scott Fitzgerald and other artists rang true in
that sense. And I found a link to the notion that Teachers do not "teach"
information, skills, or knowledge as much as they guide us into our own
experience and, thus, into generating (or discovering) our _own_ skills
and knowledge. A database or repository of information could become, in
this sense, just more chaff and detail to wade through if it lacks the
power to evoke our own conscious (or unconscious) _engagement_ with it. So
Story Telling, poetry, art, koans, myths, legends, etc., as the original
channels of human interaction, learning, and culture may yet be the tools
to transformation even in this age of information and technology.

It may be that the key to organizational learning may be less the
information which is preserved or accessed as much as the continued
curiosity, conversation and dialogue which is stimulated, maintained, and
constantly renewed in the face of change. And, if such is the case, in our
search for success we may find, perhaps, unexpected examples of "less
becoming more", and moments of silence and reflection becoming a source
for continual creativity and growth.

Thanks for the spark, Ron, and the incentive to nurse it into a flame.

Tobin Quereau