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Cheryl is a  Learning Doula--a person who supports others as they learn, unlearn and emerge into their wealth and possibilities. budding pioneer of the field of learning and development. She is an established personal accountability and self-help author and has formed her business around the principles of autonomy, authenticity, and the courageous questioning that she writes about. Her new book, The Last Evaluation (coming soon) visits these principles in the framework of genuine and seamless living and working.

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Ypifany: Re-Valuing Learning

January 8, 2018

A major part of the new Learning and Re-Valuation model presented in my book The Last Evaluation (coming Soon

 is the idea of learning. It’s important that I define, and you understand and integrate the meanings and differences between learning, education, and training to clearly see the sensory reality I'm pointing to with this model.

Learning—Learning is a constant exchange of emerging intelligence. It is a complex, active, seamless happening occurring everywhere, all the time, and with all information systems inside and outside the person. Learning informs all aspects of growth, adaptation, movement and decision-making. All of life learns.

 

Education—Education is knowledge--the perceived control and ownership of learning using language, images, and symbols. Education labels, defines, differentiates, and organizes the emerging intelligence. Unlike learning, education can fall out of currency (use), change meaning, and be sensed differently by different individuals or groups of individuals. Education is personal. Education can have purpose.

 

Training—Training is education directed toward accomplishment of capabilities and goals. Training is personal and purposeful.

 

“The only thing that gets in the way of my learning, is my education.”—Albert Einstein

 

Everything with purpose is imprisoned, confined, and limited. I’m not making judgments, I’m just stating the obvious. Purpose requires boundaries. Purpose is like the electromagnetic field that prevents us from melting into the chairs we sit in, floors we stand on, and beds we sleep in at night. Purpose distinguishes important aspects of my life from your life. Purpose gives meaning. Purpose brings order to chaos.

 

It seems as if purpose is needed. Actually, it seems as if we are assigned purpose and made to be distinguishable from others and their purposes. In the monitoring and evaluation world, this assumption underpins everything. Knowledge, tethered to purpose, is the background. Getting more knowledge to do more, know more, be more and have more toward accomplishment of a goal and fulfillment of an individual, program, or organizational purpose is the reason for this entire endeavor.

 

A monitoring and evaluation community fueled by the assumption of purpose...intertwined by other communities fueled by this assumption (namely economics) is in a perpetual drive to improve (implying deficiency), compete (resources are scarce), accumulate information (to control outcomes), discriminate (distinction is necessary for purpose), assign value (scarcity creates value) and remain (purpose wants to remain purposeful). This background of purpose, limitation, and scarcity is understood and never really addressed or discussed openly. Like every other assumption, it's something you know simply based on the fact that you know it.

 

There is nothing right or wrong with purpose or with seeing purpose, education, training, research, scarcity and knowledge as the background of all that we do in monitoring and evaluation. However, according to Choice Theory, how we see is how we think and what we do as professionals. Seeing scarcity, the need for control discrimination, and assignment of value as necessary for fulfillment of our own purpose has had, and continues to have major deleterious effects on other humans and on our environment. Just look throughout history at the impact of assigning value to people, ideas, cultures and practices all to accomplish an "altruistic" purpose and to create or uphold a particular economic mindset.

 

The American Evaluation Association, The United Nations Evaluation Group, UNICEF, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics and countless businesses, nonprofits, not for profits, NGOs and state and local organizations have beautiful written principles, mission statements, vision statements, cultural competence declarations and other words on pages and screens. But even there, you can read the real purpose statements. It's the organization's needs (e.g. need for control, need to stay distinct, need for knowledge, need to accumulate more, etc.) that is above the needs of customers, "target" populations, eradication of hunger, equity of races, care for the environment, respect for cultural differences, etc.

 

It is ONLY where human attributes (respect, connection, equity, rights, exploration, sharing, decision-making freedom, artistic expression, creation and use of technology, etc.) align with organizational purpose (control, distinction, knowledge, accumulation, etc) that they are allowed integration into context and practice. Only then is knowledge valued, licensed, written into law, and used to achieve a certain outcome.

All of this when purpose, education, training, and knowledge is the background...the frame of reference...the foundation of practice.

 

"Essentially every model is wrong, but some are useful"--George Fox

 

Again, there is nothing right or wrong with purpose. It would be relatively difficult to find much argument against the fact that acquiring relevant knowledge and building superior skill are primary activities that lead to individual and organizational capability. It makes sense to monitor and evaluate in the interest of ensuring the right things are being done and capability and knowledge gaps are addressed. Evaluation helps ensure organizations can fulfill their purpose and meet their missions.

 

However, the world is dynamic. Context changes. Learning constantly emerges and new knowledge is always possible. This "confusion" is the background in which the new Learning and Re-Valuation model is rooted. I've recently learned through author Ina Praetorius that "confusion" in German is "Durcheinander". Normally it's written in one word, but it can also be written in two words: "Durch einander" which means: "one through the other". A state of confusion is a state where ideas are integrated, perpetually reborn and in constant relationship. Ideas are not goal oriented or limited by purpose, instead they are presently functional according to context. Ideas are presently attracted and interconnected according to present need within the ecosystem.

 

It's from this state of perpetual learning, interconnections, relationship, and possibility that purpose and knowledge emerges...never severing the connection from limitless learning.

In invite leaders and management to choose growth by integrating the Learning and Re-Valuation experience and:

  • Set learning tipping points instead of goals.

  • Actively listen and share information throughout the ecosystem instead of collecting evidence and reporting data 

  • Evolve from assigning value to people and programs to recognizing their invaluable nature and returning authority to them to see (and control) their own value.

But without doing things the way we always do them, how do we make money? How do we plan? How do we ensure our stakeholders get what they want? How do we impact communities and give customers what they want?

First, are we doing any of those things, second, to begin to answer those questions I'll turn to the famous physicist Richard Feynman who said, "...people look at trees and think that it comes out of the ground,...but if you ask where the substance comes from you find out that...most of a tree, almost all of a tree is [rooted] in the air...not in the ground". See Professor Feynman's talk here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1pIYI5JQLE

 

The root of all we do is already in learning, in interconnection, in confusion and complexity. The Learning and Re-Valuation Model only acknowledges this obvious state and works from that point of view. I'll go into more details of the model in subsequent postings.

 

To support the writing of the book "The Last Evaluation" please visit my Kickstarter Project Page. Including legal tender, there are other forms of currency that will fund my exploration into this topic as I move forward toward publication and sharing of the model and practice. Go to the Kickstarter page and:

 

ASK QUESTIONS: Read the description and ask questions (especially if you perform evaluations, have participated in formal evaluation or wholly subscribe to the necessity of a market economy)

MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS: Look at the table of contents in the description and let me know of enlightening books you've read on the topics or your personal ideas about project, program, and personal evaluation

CONNECT THRU SHARITY: Who else would be interested in knowing about this topic? Who else would be interested in lending their equity (in any form) to this exploration? Share this information with them.

Send your questions & recommendations to info@thelastevaluation.com (or message me here on LinkedIn).

Remember to follow me to remain updated on further articles and posts

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