Thursday 1 July 2010

Whitehead, Dimensions and Perception in Learning

I was recommended 'The concept of Nature' by A.N. Whitehead this week. It's an extraordinary work. I'm always attracted to thinkers who turn all the conventional ways for understanding things upside down, and Whitehead is incredible. I haven't got to the bottom of it yet, but he seems to be saying something very interesting about the way we perceive dimensions. He's critical of Einstein's distinctions between space and time (and this was 1920!). His concept of this perception of dimension seems more like a multi-layer regulatory process (c.f. VSM). It may be confused (I may be confused!) but it's set me thinking.

What about the dimensions of learning that we take forgranted? The role of time in personal development, the role of memory, the role of experience, curriculum, knowledge, etc? In learning it's perhaps more easy to see some dimensions as regulatory in the way Whitehead sees them (and the regulatory perspective is at the root of educational cybernetics), but even then we can easily find ourselves dimensioning quantities of things (achievements, length of study, books read, etc) forgetting that everything is probably mutually contingent in a regulatory process.

I also found out the other day that Pask's term for e-learning is 'Applied Epistemology'. Bearing in mind these sort of issues, that seems very apt!

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