Emergent Learning LO2192

Doug Seeley (100433.133@compuserve.com)
23 Jul 95 00:17:23 EDT

Replying to LO2122 --

Responding to Bernard Girard in LO 2121 and Joseph O'Connor in LO 2122...

Bernard Girard asks...

"The question is (or should be) : how did he get his tacit (or tactile, as
Jack Hirschfeld says) knowledge?"

I too am wondering about the necessary ingredients for emergent learning
and whether it can be supported and applied in the learning

In Michael Polanyi's explication of Tacit Knowing, he described a
necessary stage of "indwelling".... it was a stage wherein the learner,
using some tool, technology [or conceptual framework] became familiar with
what the effects were of using tool in its intended domain (the "distal"
component of tacit knowing). Normally this is thought of as practice or
gaining experience.... its just that, as in acquiring the skill for riding
a bicycle, what was being learned in this stage was not consciously
articulated [indeed, that could bring a degree of "self-occupation and
judgment" which would sabotage the process] in a linguistic manner. As I
recall, it also assumed a degree of "freedom to explore and make
mistakes", this freedom really accelerating the indwelling stage. I see
this now as a kind of rapid prototyping stage of emergent learning, where
one has the freedom to try out the validity of various patterns and
connections, without fear of judgment.

So, could it be that freedom, a non-judgmental stage, and the wherewithal
to rapidly prototype are necessary ingredients? Nowadays, I would also
suggest that this stage has to be long enough for the various workable
connections to "take hold", so that a distinguishable whole could emerge
from these explorations.

In LO 2122 Joseph O'Connor, addresses the requirements issue as well....

> "instruction, and also learned to read music before she was five.
> While formal instruction may be important and I am not denigrating the
skills involved, the whole context of learning I believe is more
important. In a supportive, loving context where learning is valued and
help is available, she could not not learn. I believe learning is
something we are all naturals at, it takes a great deal to squash this
talent, but many succeed, unfortunately. Sometimes the skills of formal
>instruction are needed and so valued precisely because of the lack of
>supporting context."

With the experience of my children learning maths and reading emergently,
We also felt that in the environment it was not so much the available
modelling by us that was necessary [e.g. my son was perhaps aware that I
did a little math at home from time to time, but he never witnessed what I
was actually doing... working with the Poisson distribution], but rather
the openness to their natural processes as conscious beings. This
openness involved lack of judgment, freedom and lack of time pressure.

This suggests to me that learning organizations need to provide such
indwelling stages, wherein teams and individuals are provided with lack of
judgment, mutual openness, freedom to explore and sufficient time for
emergence to occur. These indwelling stages may be needed when the
organization confronts structural changes and transitional shifts in
operational practice and in visioning. The fact that traditional
performance measures would not measure the real value of such periods
should be consciously acknowledged by senior management. This would
liberate people to work around utilization issues without being blinded or
constricted by the use of conventional financial and efficiency measures.

Can anyone else amplify some of this or find some things missing in the
development of my argument??

Doug Seeley:   Compuserve 100433.133 somewhere on the road in Canada