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Tirumala V’s Paper Proposal

A cybernetics framework to analyse the relationships between ‘actions/activities and understandings’ and vice-versa for holistic learning considering risks

In today’s complex world with rapid growth of information mainly due to internet, approaches to learning have once again taken center stage. Acting leads to a rich understanding due to unique and enormous possibilities that exist in the environment. This is one of the learning. The other learning is that we get from applying the understanding to be used for acting. According to Ranulph Glanville, these two learning’s can be described as linear causalities and when these two learning’s are conjoined in a circular fashion it can be described as circular causality where acting is dependent on understanding and understanding is dependent on acting and there is a learning when moved from one to the other. However, there is risk to one’s learning. We believe that not having holistic learning is a risk. So what can be described as holistic learning is explored.
Is holistic learning equal to map of learning’s? Learning’s that we get from reaching a goal and those we get from not reaching a goal. Is it holistic learning, when the variety of all learning’s of the object world matches the variety of learning’s in the mind world. Is holistic learning more than the sum of the parts: parts’ being learning’s from variety of acting and variety of understanding? Is holistic learning, the circular conjoining of learning’s from acting to understanding and understanding to acting? Is holistic learning a journey and not an end by itself?
Correct understanding is necessary but not sufficient to complete the goal. We need correct acting as well. Wrong actions/misunderstandings may lead to loss of time, money or other undesirable outcome. Occurrence of positive feedback loop resulting from incorrect understanding and incorrect acting reinforcing each other in a circular way may be a bigger risk in reaching a goal. There is learning when the goal is reached and there is also learning in not reaching a goal.
Also explored on how the relationships between acting and understanding can be explained using commute principle, cybernetics circular causality and foreground-background approach.
In this paper, We propose a cybernetic framework that can describe linear causalities in terms of “Actions/Activities to Learning’s/Understandings(A2LU)”, “Learning’s/Understandings to Activities/Actions(LU2A)”, “Activities/Actions to Understanding/Learning’s(A2UL)” and “Understanding/Learning’s to Actions/Activities(UL2A)” with them forming spiral conjoining to gain holistic learning when actions performed and understandings applied taking risks also into account. The framework basing on X-matrix is implemented using Microsoft Excel. The four quadrants of X-matrix based framework are Actions/Activities, Learning’s/Understandings, Activities/ Actions and Understanding/Learning’s in a clockwise direction labeling them as first, second, third and fourth quadrants respectively. The framework will be useful for explorations, testing of the previous understanding’s/Learning’s, analyze the relationships between ‘actions/activities and understandings’ and vice-versa and it can customized to suit various explorations with an emphasis on iteration, reflection and change.


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  1. Thanks for your abstract and the thought that has gone into it.

    I wonder where exploration and play come into your world. I think you are talking only about the sort of knowing that involves knowledge that has somehow been “stabilised”, that is, is accepted as true at least for now. But there is much knowledge to be created. All knowledge can be seen as created by the knower in the sense that if I do not know something, I have to create my own understanding that I rely on as knowledge. (This does not mean that it is not known to others.) This knowledge can be known to others, but to me, not knowing, I have somehow to create my understanding that allows me to know. So what I’m getting at is that is to ask where is the creativity in learning, understanding, knowing, acting in the model you give?

  2. Thank You Ranulph for your Comment.

    There are two things here I would like to mention, One is about following the process, and the other is creating a process. Following the process may involve prior understanding of self or others(world) and you just act on the process. In this case, no new knowledge is created. When we create a process, it involves creativity in learning, understanding, knowing, acting.

    In the example mentioned in the extended abstract, When moving from point A to point B, One may create a new route that is shorter (just for example) or has other advantages than the previous route from point A to point B or even no route exists previously. This new route is created by acting (exploration and play) and no prior understanding. I would also like to quote here about the recent floods in a place named Kedarnath, near Himalayas, where the previous route to Kedarnath was completely destroyed and can’t be restored. The Army is trying now to create a new route to Kedarnath.

    Also I have used “Create a process”, but it can generalised to Create anything. In this case, create new knowledge, and this can be done only through acting (exploration and play).

    In the X matrix discussed in the extended abstract, if you are starting from the first quadrant (Actions/Activities) and moving to second quadrant (Learnings/Understandings), you are basically starting to create a process. But if you are starting from fourth quadrant (Understandings/Learnings) and moving to first quadrant, then you are just following the process.

    If I have clarified enough and you agree with me on the above, I will make changes to the extended abstract accordingly to bring in more clarity.

  3. I think that what I’m getting at is almost pointless movement. I describe the process of designing (I have taught design in various forms for most of my academic life) as like wandering purposelessly and happening upon some place that is delightful and makes sense of the wandering. Ie, the solution (the point of arrival) defines the problem. Play can be, I think, like this: pointless until somehow you arrive at this delightful place. Exploring must be the same, for the point of exploring is that we don’t know.

    I have expressed this in a different language than that you use, in part in the hope that this helps keep the distinction and to remain clear.

  4. Thank You Ranulph for your suggestion.

    Do I understand you correctly on “Wandering purposelessly”?. I think the main purpose could be design a product or service or some design. In order to design it, wandering may be necessary, but one should not lose sight of the main purpose in the wandering. Also in industry, positive pressure or competitive pressure exists to put a check on indefinite wandering. I am only trying to understand more on this. At the same time, I do agree there are no shortcuts to exploring for creativity.

    Joint exploration may be of help.

  5. Our wandering is always constrained by our desires and values, current descriptions, explanations, and understandings, our ways of thinking, living and doing, etc. What’s important is to be aware of those constraints so that we can take responsibility for them and change them when they are either too constraining or insufficiently constraining. This is not the same as being purposeful when purpose is treated as a goal.

  6. to quote Randall “like wandering purposelessly and happening upon some place that is delightful and makes sense of the wandering. Ie, the solution (the point of arrival) defines the problem. Play can be, I think, like this: pointless until somehow you arrive at this delightful place. Exploring must be the same, for the point of exploring is that we don’t know.”

    You have expressed a sentiment we had when we created the College of Exploration. a structure to explore known and unknown worlds, inner and outer worlds, sometime wandering purposelessly, and sometime wandering with purpose, to sense wonder and connections and to make meanings of the experiences.

  7. And I just quoted someone not here, I was quoting Ranulph of course. No edit button on the reply. Apologies.

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