LO and Western Thought LO7589

Dr Ilfryn Price (101701.3454@compuserve.com)
Fri, 24 May 1996 05:30:25 -0400

Replying to LO7515 --

Having first disscussed this with the original author I offer these
comments to Ross Reids post concerning attitudes and models of Master's
Students in Adult Vocational Training in Australia., forwarded by Terri.
My purpose in writing is to attempt a conversation interrupt without the
normal formality of a conversation for relationship.

>The issues raised are certainly not endemic to Australia.>

I read with interest and broad agreement until I came to the following

> It
> is of concern that this behaviour was exhibited by people
> studying at a Masters level in Adult Vocational Education.
> Because they are the people who if not already, will soon be
> charged with the responsibility of developing 'learning
> organisations' in Australia.

Now let's slow down here. Thirty years ago my father organised vocational
adult education over a large chunk of Northern NSW and Southern Queensland
in a manner that, I believe, enabled a lot of learning. We do some things
in that area here in Surrey UK today. Back then a Master's in AVE would
have been laughed off campus as would the assumption that it, or any other
masters degree lead to being 'charged with the responsibility' [I may be
doing the original author an injustice but I read -perhaps - an example of
creeping intellectual elitism and wonder if Western Academia are not part
of the problem as much as of the solution]

This lead me to some tongue partially in cheek reactions to the questions
posed by Ross

> Firstly, I wish to collect stories of incidents where
> lack of learning skills or a negative attitude toward
> learning on the part of management is impeding the
> development of a learning organisation, learning team
> and or knowledge workers.

Most current western academic departments have a negative attitude to
learning etc [i.e. they believe they are good at it by definition when
many [most?] of them are more stuck with being right than are most

> Secondly, do you see evidence that the race for
> qualifications among managers and aspiring managers
> (especially in Australia) is leading to a lower
> standard of scholarship at universities at a time when
> scholarly leadership is needed to give companies that
> competitive edge?

No. I suggest that the encouragement of more and more Master's courses as
'hurdles' to jump is leading to increasingly spurious scholarship at a
time when scholars could give leadership if they were not so hung up about
being scholarly

> Thirdly, in recent times there has been a shift on the
> part of university lecturers from an emphasis on being
> teachers to an emphasis on being researchers. Do you see
> this leading to a lower standard of scholarship among
> graduates?

No I see it leading to a lower standard of scholarship among university
lecturers. Rutherford [eminent antipodean researcher who made it
elsewhere] said 'you don't understand it until you can explain it to the
woman who cleans your laboratory [sorry Terri about Rutherford's
unenlightened gender usage]. By this standard most would be scholars fail
dismally. A client of mine - a sixty year old gardener who runs one of the
most learning orientated companies I know puts it this way You can't learn
if you can't teach'

> Finally, do you think that the student's question, as
> outlined above, is valid and relevant to the 'learning
> organisation' debate; might their be weaknesses in how
> we think and go about learning in the West; or is it
> as suggested by the group, just a question of finding
> the right incentives and training programs for workers
> and managers?

I think there are weaknesses in how we go about learning in the west. I
think western educational paradigms in use in organisations have a lot to
do with it. I think there were more positive attitudes to learning in,
say, the Welsh Coal Mining communities of South Wales 60 years ago, where
my father began the journey that lead him from working on the railways at
14 to an Oxford DPhil, and finally an academic post in New South Wales,
than in say, today's ghettoes. I also suspect that the shift in
universities during the period, and the lowered attention to real learning
has a lot to do with it. They are part of a systemic change but we will
not shift the system by criticising the other part of it.

If Price
The Harrow Partnership
Pewley Fort Guildford UK


Dr Ilfryn Price <101701.3454@compuserve.com>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>