Maandag 7 februari jl gaf Otto Scharmer - bekend van Theorie U, en het gelijknamige boek dat hij een jaar geleden in Amsterdam presenteerde - een Masterclass op de conferentie 'Elk kind is een belofte' van de stichting Duurzaam Leren.
Voor het NIVOZ en het kind stelde ik hem één brandende vraag: 'Wat is het beste advies dat u kunt geven aan iemand die elke dag staat voor de klas staat ?'
Hier is zijn antwoord, bescheiden, verrassend en indringend - en niet alleen relevant voor leerkrachten, maar voor iedereen die dagelijks met mensen werkt:
Dr Otto Scharmer (MIT) on learning and learning environments
Sustainable Learning Conference, February 7, 2011, Den Haag, NL
The greatest advice I can give is something I have come to learn in my own learning process: every profound process of learning is not about filling an empty barrel called ‘student’ with knowledge until it is full. The learning process is basically about igniting a flame. Igniting a flame and using that, you could almost say a sacred source, of wandering, of questioning, of aspiring to know. Of grasping something larger than just myself, to nurture that, to hold the space for that and to partner with that sacred force of learning. That flame is the deeper humanity within us, the knowledge that I already bring when I am growing up, when I am being born.
I do a lot of advanced knowledge creation and work with younger and senior leaders, institutions and organizations and what I really do... Is not just knowledge about the world, but the most important is knowledge about yourself, self knowledge. It is that dimension of knowledge, knowing who you are, as a human being, and what the difference is you want to make in the world.
In adult populations self knowledge is the most difficult to teach and yet the most important one to attend to and also the most appreciated from the side of the learners. I experience this across sectors in society and cultures all over the world. There is a deep hunger for that. I also experience that with twenty-somethings at MIT. The younger generations coming in are much more open for that deeper self knowledge than we would have been a generation ago. I think it goes deeper and deeper into the student generation that now is attending the schools.
If I have any core competence than it is being a teacher – that is what I am feeling a little comfortable to talk about, based on my own experience. So how do you operate as a teacher? Self knowledge can not be taught from outside. You can only make the learner become aware of what they already know. That’s really the essence of self knowledge and the deeper work of learning in leadership in all institutions today. Because I know a few people from the younger generations... I think what is new in this century, is that people wake up to that level of inquiry and interest and knowing, way before we used to when we grew up. I think that’s the cutting edge of learning.
So how do you attend to all these different biographies, to helping people to explore context that can help to become aware of who you really are and what is the main mechanism there? One of the main mechanisms I am using, in finding out who I really am – much is about reflecting – is by moving out into the world. By having deep emerging experiences with different 'pockets' of society – particularly the underprivileged, the voiceless, the powerless. As I connect to them I become part of the social field. That social field is opening up my deeper capacities of empathy, of feeling, of attending. It’s not just emotion – it’s how I connect to the larger social field around us. That’s the real source of entrepreneurship, of innovation, and also of cohesion in society that very often is about to break apart as we know – even here in Holland, which has always has been the role model for integration. We know it is already broken apart in other countries.
Another aspect that I am focusing on in my environments of adult learning is not only to help people to access to empathy but also to help people to open to the deeper capacities of will – the Open Will. The Open Will has to do with my hand, with the doing, with learning by doing. People across all cultures very naturally connect to this learning by doing. I think it is much more important today than it was a generation or two ago, because the learning is through doing it, not just through theoretical models. The open will also means having a deeper knowing of who you really are and the change that you want to bring about. So those are environments that if you want to create them as an educator, what you do is on the one hand you allow people to have deeper emerging experiences in society at special topics, you allow them to create experiments where they help, where they try to make a difference in society and you help them to create deeper reflective spaces.
One practice I am using myself when I work with groups or with teams is that, every evening before going to sleep, I try to put myself into the service of that community, of these people. Just to align your own attention with the purpose, helping these groups or individuals to connect with their deeper capacity of creating and of making a difference. That is what I have found useful and a little bit my own experience.