How do we learn?

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Sometimes we engage in single loop learning only. This occurs when strategies, tactics and assumptions are changed to remedy errors (www.open.ac.uk); solving problems without really finding out their cause. There may be occasions where this type of learning is appropriate. However, there are more powerful ways to learn.

Where possible, systems practitioners engage in double loop learning. We look deeper into the cause of a problem before taking any action. We don’t just look at how to do something better, we look at whether or not we are doing the right thing. And, of course, once we ascertain that we are doing the right thing, then we look at how to do it better. This is where we consider at multiple perspectives. We are aware that a situation can be perceived differently by different parties, which is why we try to get to the bottom of what is really causing a problem before we take action. When we do this we are learning to change

There is triple loop learning also, which involves learning how to learn. We reflect on our ways of learning so that we understand them and can tell if we really are learning.

What is most important, I think, is that we are aware of how we learn. We are aware that there are different types of learning and we are prepared to challenge ourselves.

More on single, double and triple loop learning here: http://oro.open.ac.uk/37718/1/Connections%20613_Final%20PrePub.pdf

 

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