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Helping Others to Learn About Complexity:

Summary: Learning About CAS

Learning about CAS is, itself, a CAS. Learning emerges in a group through such things as information flow, anxiety containment, reflection, and so on. Humans inherently want to learn. If learning is not taking place the way you think it should, step back from your context, reflect, and see if you can begin to understand the dynamics in the CAS that may be getting in the way of the natural behavior of learning.

The summary box below captures some key points from this section about learning and CAS.

Summary of Key Points in Learning About CAS

  • Remember that learning is an emergent property of your group.
  • Emphasize information flow, diversity of thought, connection, and good enough plans; rather than detailed curriculum and one-way flow of knowledge from a central figure.
  • Be careful about power differential within the group and provide safety for the anxiety always associated with learning.
  • Capitalize on paradoxes and unexpected events that occur within your context.
  • Try many approaches and let successful learning directions emerge.
  • Work from the metaphor of sowing seeds and growing crops.
  • Stress involvement and application in all your group's learning activities.
  • Create tension for change by discussing gaps in performance and expectations.
  • Build skills together.
  • Honor diverse learning styles, while also seeking to expand the range of what you yourself are comfortable with.
  • Reflect on both the learning and the learning process within your group.
  • Respect anxiety about moving on and making change, but don't make everyone wait until everyone is ready. Blaze new trails with those who are ready, and reflect respectfully, lovingly, but clearly, with those who are lagging behind. (Note: this is an interesting application of the tit-for-tat strategy described in principle #11.)
  • Always remember that the only person you can change is you.
  • Honor minimum specifications. Avoid imposing more specifications. Get out of the way of the creative and emerging behavior of your learning group.
  • Talk often about expectations in the group. Talk honestly about whether you are making the progress you hoped for.
  • If you are the "teacher," be a new kind of teacher: a co-learner, quick to share knowledge but challenging the group to make application, nudging people off their current attractors but allowing them to find their own new attractors, and always open to being challenged by the group.

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Copyright 2001, Paul E. Plsek & Associates,
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