#Change11 The Yin and Yang in Life, Education and Learning

This week’s topic is slow learning, where Clark Quinn will be the facilitator of the session.  Relating to Slow Learning, here is one created by Nicola.
Though I quoted Yin Yang in my posts here and here, I am not delved into the religion of Tao.  I am a Catholic, and my religious belief is different from Tao.  I have no intention of promoting any religious beliefs here in this post.
This wikipedia post may be of interests to you.
Disclaimer: I didn’t study Taoism formally, and my interpretation is based solely on my understanding of some informal study and sharing with others.   Those books on Taoism (refer to this Taoism  and I Ching  as reference) were written in Chinese (Ku Yu – meaning old colloquial writings, which were extremely difficult to understand, would need to be interpreted with caution), and are now obsolete.
I think these books were all subject to certain changes to their original meaning upon translation into other languages.  There were also differences in interpretation even when  translated into modern Chinese.  I don’t quite understand most of them, especially on those metaphors, in Tao Te Ching.
I reckon there are many different interpretations of this Yin Yang.  I think Yin Yang could be used to explain lots of concepts, especially in philosophy, social sciences and education – like Jon Dron’s framework on technology – hard is soft and soft is hard, important to have it just right.  This is similar to the technology affordance concept, based on context and application of technology, and the agents involved.   Our actions in life are all embedded in the evolving, and balancing act to achieve harmony through Yin Yang (interpreted as the female/male, dark/bright, mountain (with rocks – hard)/rivers (with water – soft), sun/moon, dynamic/static- that a balance in nature would create that harmony. One has to keep exercising to maintain a good health (Yang), but take a good rest to restore health when sick (Yin).  We need male/female to give rise to new life – and to bring up the children with a balanced mindset – so they respect both males and females, with equal rights and responsibilities etc.
This also relates to the scarcity and abundance of information era.  In the pre-internet and computer era, we still relied on experts and artifacts in form of books, and library (as storage of these artifacts).  Here the Yang could be the teacher as expert (story teller, instructor etc.), and Yin could be the books and writings, artifacts (static sources of information), confined in classroom (with Yin – closed environment).
 In the post internet era (now) we have abundance of information, where we could rely less on single source of experts but information stored in the clouds, media, or wikipedia and Google etc.  Here the Yang could be the networks of experts and social media, and Yin could be the wikipedia, Google sources (the Cloud), though these are embedded Yang inside (with human input, and artificial intelligence).  These are now openly shared with Yang – open environment.  This relates to ANT (Actor Network Theory)
So on every side of the information and technology, we could sense the Yin and Yang evolving, and they are all embedded within each agent, node and network.
Would this Yin Yang be connected to Connectivism?  I reckon it is.
Picture: From Nicola’s post
1. For each thesis of theory (Yang) – the bright side, and merits, there are antithesis of theory (Yin) – the dark side, and demerits.  The theory is the Yin (Principles, Strategies), the application is the Yang (Action, Experience).
2. Within each network and community, there are always Yang (active agents, active nodes, proponents) and Yin (inactive agents, inactive nodes, lurkers, antagonist) etc.
3. Learning as network of connections, knowledge is distributed –
Yang is the learning in action, but Yin is also embedded in this active learning cycle (in quiet and deep reflection, meditation).  Is this similar to Clark Quinn’s  Slow Learning?  Have to explore more.
Yin is the knowledge (as if it is treated as a thing, to be acquired), but Yang is also embedded in fluid knowledge if knowledge is treated as one to recognize the pattern (this is the exact translation of “knowing pattern” in Chinese), when it relates to pattern recognition (closest to what Stephen’s claim of what knowledge is).
Postscript: Learning can be seen as a process of discriminating patterns in the world, as opposed to one of supplementing sensory information with past experience.

7 thoughts on “#Change11 The Yin and Yang in Life, Education and Learning

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  4. Thank you John. This is fascinating – with yin as ‘things’ including storage on the web and yang as the motion and activity of people interacting, connecting with those things, structures. It reminded me of Body Learning by Michael Gelb which I have started to read. (I am not familiar with Alexander Techniques or its development, just a couple of moves) He says that

    “Many people have recognised and come to understand the need for wholeness. The starting point is the individual himself or herself. But how are we to avoid approaching these disciplines in the sam disconnected manner in which we have been schooled, cured and processed? Professor Dewey understood this problem when he wrote in his introduction to Man’s Supreme Inheritance: When the organs through which any structure, be it physiological, mental or social are out of balance, when they are uncoordinated, specific and limited attempts at a cure, only exercise the disordered mechanism. In ‘improving’ one organic structure they exercise a compensatory maladjustment somewhere else” 1

    and he explains how the Alexander Techniques were developed to help people understand the physiological and psychological patterns of use or misuse / habits and how to transform or change them.
    Donald Norman has talked about how technology has tried to adapt people through a limited / flawed design rather than learning from people, although it appears that is changing. From what you have written, it does not sound like e.g. a straightforward split between mind and body but more the continuous changing connections within both. Just as cells are continously exchanging molecules, adjusting to and readjusting their environments based on what/how those molecules are doing. So maybe if applied to education – if through technology designed by humans, we try to force our learning & educational habits to change, this will cause problems somewhere else (economically, socially, politically etc) so needs to change with understanding of the whole instead.

  5. Sorry 1 should be Body Learning – Introduction to the Alexander Technique, Michael Gelb, 1981, Aurum Press

  6. Thanks Nicola,
    A take away from Norman’s post is “All the factors of design must be in harmony.” As you said, maybe if applied to education – if through technology designed by humans, we try to force our learning & educational habits to change, this will cause problems somewhere else (economically, socially, politically etc) so needs to change with understanding of the whole instead. Another interesting strategy to be considered is the Sun Tze, where I would include in the next comment. Another video here.

  7. Thanks John, great videos, pondering some more – if everyone decided to apply these strategies at once, in a mooc would that be confusing or just reflective of the wider world. What is the war – with the change mooc, as in who is the enemy – traditional educational methods, educational funding? Kill someone with a borrowed knife – could that be related to open access and reuse of educational materials/hacking? I guess massive must mean there is an army of learners.

    If we are our own opponents which from what I’ve understood of the change mooc – is resistance to change – maybe we need to deceive our conscious selves to win, maybe also the reality within a mooc is that there are many different small wars and conflicts going on – if everyone decides to apply these strategies I wonder what would define a win or defeat.

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