Length of contributions LO12214

Mnr AM de Lange (AMDELANGE@gold.up.ac.za)
Mon, 27 Jan 1997 10:23:49 GMT+2

Scott Simmerman wrote in LO12180

> Anyway, my take on learning is that it needs to be in as safe an
> environment as we can build, where people can most certainly experiment
> with novel ideas.

Dear organlearners,

Scott, I think that we all should take notice of your sentence above. But
before I elaborate on your sentence, allow me to use this sentence to
illustrate something else, namely the nature of an emergence.

The topic (thread, subject) has been "Length of contributions". It appears
to be impossible to relate this topic to your sentence quoted. Yet if we
study all the contributions on the topic, your sentence indeed had to
emerge on this topic. This divergence between the topic and your sentence
illustrates that emergences are asymmetric-transitive rather than
symmetric- reflexive. This asymmetric-transitive nature of emergences are
the reason why Rick (or the contributor) has to recognise a new topic and
give a new, appropiate name to it.

Learning happens by means of two complementary modes, namely emergent
(revolutionary) learning and digestive (evolutionary) learning. We have to
think of the word 'comlementary' that it means that these two modes act
like a push-pull pair. Emergent learning pushes the creation of something
new after which digestive learning pulls the new creation to maturity. The
mature creation pushes another emergence, etc. Hence we observe a
spiralling towards more complexity. (To wet your appetite: the rate of
entropy production is high during emergent learning and low during
digestive learning.)

Now, let us return to Scott's sentence. Both modes of learning require a
safe environment, but for different reasons. I am not going to spell these
reasons out, but will simply refer to them by metaphors. Emergent learning
may be thought of as the conception, gestation and birth of a new, noble
thought. Now think of the unborne and newly born babies - why do they need
a safe environment? Digestive learning may be thought of as the growth of
the noble thought to maturity. Now think of children growing up - why do
they need a safe environment?

We have in Afrikaans (my mother tongue) a word which describes the central
feature of this learning environment's safety, namely "geborgenheid". This
word is related to the 'burg' in a city name like Hamburg or to the
'borough' in Edinborough. Its closest translation into English would be
'sponsored safety'. Thus "geborgenheid" means to sponsor the learner's
safety in exchange for the learner showing an advancement through
learning. We must be careful not to confuse "geborgenheid" with trust.

In a different thread "TQM vs LO" Winfried Deijman asked me to qoute
Eugene Marais' poem Winternag. I did so, and also took the liberty in
mentioning Marais' book 'The soul of the ant', saying that it was a
precursor on the LO concept in terms of nonhuman learning. Keith Sandrock
replied emergently by coining this book to the management of the
metropolis in which he lives. This emergence came as a shock to me because
of its almost unreal appropiateness - also to what has been said in this

We in South Africa are now experiencing two immense problems:

1 Since 1990 (the last two years of apartheid) and especially
since 1994 (after the first year of the New South Africa),
we are experiencing immense violence, making some places
in our country the most dangerous in the world.

2 Since 1990 the foundations and the seams of our educational
system have been deteriorating immensely in all its levels.
The threat of and the actual suspension of learning are now
used as a lever to press for all sorts of social and political

I think that far to few people in South Africa realise that these two
problems are two sides of the same coin. These two problems show that the
principles and ideals of a LO might be loosing ground in the New South
Africa. In other words, although many South Africans now often boast that
we have finally become the 'Rainbow Nation', far to few are willing to
admit that we may have ceased to become a 'Learning Nation'.

Please help South Africa at all possible opportunities by encouraging us
to become a 'Learning Nation' while critisising us severely when our work
promotes the opposite.

This response will become very long if I try to give my explanation of why
we are becoming less of a 'Learning Nation'. So I will stop here.

But I cannot help to applaud Scott on the following two sentences:

> And I also think that learning is so individualized
> that different people get so many different things
> from one simple exercise.
> I think the richness of this LO list is BECAUSE of the
> diversity of topics, posters, approaches and thinking
> patterns.

Best wishes
- --

At de Lange
Gold Fields Computer Centre for Education
University of Pretoria
Pretoria, South Africa
email: amdelange@gold.up.ac.za


"Mnr AM de Lange" <AMDELANGE@gold.up.ac.za>

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