Peter Senge has written a gem of a book called The Fifth Discipline – The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization. He has beautifully summarized in few short paragraphs the core essence of learning. Here are some extracts.
The word “Metanoia” means a shift in mind. To grasp the meaning of “metanoia” is to grasp the deeper meaning of “learning”, for learning also involves a fundamental shift or movement of mind. The word “learning organizations” tend to evoke images of sitting passively in schoolrooms, listening, following directions, and pleasing the teacher by avoiding mistakes. In effect, in everyday use, learning has come to be synonymous with “taking in information.” Yet, taking in information is only distantly related to real learning. It would be nonsensical to say, “I just read a great book about bicycle riding – I’ve now learned that.”
Real learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human. Through learning we re-create ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we never were able to do. Through learning we reperceive the world and our relationship to it. Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be a part of the generative process of life. There is within each of us a deep hunger for this type of learning.
This, then, is the basic meaning of a “learning organization” – an organization that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future. For such an organization, it is not enough merely to survive. “Survival Learning” or what is more often termed “adaptive learning” is necessary. But for a “learning organization”, “adaptive learning” must be joined by “generative learning”, learning that enhances our capacity to create.