Volume 5 · Number 3 · Pages 121–129
Self-Organisation and Learning Culture

Siegfried J. Schmidt

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Problem: Many disciplines talk about “learning“, but since each of them relates this term to another domain of reference, each one selects, by this term, other phenomena that are then called “learning.” Method: This article does not strive for a substantial definition of “learning” nor does it compete with psychological and pedagogical theories of learning, which are therefore not discussed. Instead I will analyse how we talk about learning and whether or not we might perhaps improve the plausibility of this discourse by applying a crucial constructivist concept, namely self-organisation. The main idea of this article reads as follows: “Learning” serves as an explanatory model for the observation of a specific type of change that happens in terms of contingent self-alterations of self-organising systems. The changing system and the observer of this system are inseparably related to one another since there “is” no change without an observation. Thus, talking about learning means talking about the observer and his culture of observation, description and evaluation at the same time. Benefits: The results of my analysis of the learning discourse are neither meant to serve as how-to knowledge for ameliorating learning processes nor do I regard them as an elaborated or new theory of learning as some ideas developed in this paper have a long tradition. Instead they can contribute to a more complex observation of these processes, aiming at a second order observation of the complicated, since complementary, interrelations between the individual, the socio-cultural, the institutional, and the situational components of the domain called “learning.” In other words, I try to demonstrate the plausibility of observing learning from the perspective of self-organisation.

Key words: change processes, contingency, culture, knowledge, second order observation, self-organisation


Schmidt S. J. (2010) Self-organisation and learning culture. Constructivist Foundations 5(3): 121–129. http://constructivist.info/5/3/121

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