Hava Nagila!

Everything does pass, and we can endure and we can survive!! – Rahul Dravid

Learning Models

Now we go into the areas of learning models. Learning Models tend to break down where mental models are not well-defined or are not explicit. The learning organization follows two models usually- ‘Skills of Reflection’ and the ‘skills of inquiry’.

Skills of Reflection
This is based on the normal experience of individuals whose mental models react on sensing something. They quickly make assumptions and reach conclusions within the ambit of their mental models. Chris Argyris postulates “Climbing the Ladder of Inference” to describe this.

Skills of Enquiry
If we bring an element of enquiry in the proceedings, it becomes productive. Otherwise, advocacy leads people to take strong no-return stands, which begets more advocates and obliterates inquiry. A balancing of advocacy and enquiry is needed for the learning to continue then. Everybody enquires explicitly and there is a cross-pollination of ideas. In pure advocacy, one aims to win in an argument. When it is blended with enquiry, we get at the truth. Here the famed Socratic method of learning through question is presented.. The scene in the Court of Janaka as dramatically portrayed in Brahadaranyaka Upanishad is a good example of blending advocacy and inquiry. Janaka offers a gift of 1000 cows to the most learned of them all. When all Brahmins were keeping quiet, Yagnavalkya asks his disciple Samasrava to take them home (Advocacy). The other scholars start putting a wide range of questions of profound impact. In the process the truth emerges with an elegant inevitability.

Senge advocates a methodical approach to this reflection that he calls a “left-hand column” – the process of thinking analytically of what one had thought which leads one to truth. In Sundara Kandam, seeing Mandodari in the harem of Ravana, Hanuman immediately assumes that it must be Sita and for a while he is excited. Soon he reverts back to the logical approach and realizes that Sita could not be in that happy frame of existence. Hanuman concludes that this woman must be somebody else.

Kautilya succinctly explains the learning process, which according to him, is a continuous one. The process is both physical and intellectual (Artha Sastra 1.5.12-13). The need to learn new things while revisiting the topics already studied is stressed and listening repeatedly to subjects not well understood is emphasized (1.5.15). The hierarchy of learning is sequentially explained by him. Continuous study results in a trained intellect: intellect leads to practical application, the latter leads to self-possession. (1.5.16).

The concepts of ‘know-why’ based on reflection and conceptualising and ‘know-how’ based on practical experimenting are highlighted without the labels by Kautilya. The need for continuous learning is emphasized with great force. The Artha Sastra, declares that such a king intent on learning the science enjoys the earth without interference from other rulers (1.15.17): which in the context of today’s’ managerial literature implies enjoying corporate success, without losing market share to competitors.

Previous | Next

Abstract | Introduction | Important Heritage Texts | Organizational concepts in Indian Heritage | Conceptual Model of Management | Governance and Administration | Governance and Administration in Tamil Sangam Heritage | Duties of a ruler as in Tamil Heritage Text | Fiscal Administration in Tamil Heritage Texts | SWOT Analysis | Knowledge Management | The learning of attitudes | Leader’s role in learning culture | Learning Models | The need for holistic knowledge | Conclusion | References

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