Teaching Smart People to Learn Summary

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E. Article Summaries

Teaching Smart People how to Learn
By Chris Argyris

The author contends that most successful people are adept at solving problems, but they don't really know how to learn. They are able to solve problems and overcome many organizational obstacles, but when it comes down to examining why there are obstacles and looking at the underneath dynamics of the problem they are unsuccessful. They lack introspection and the ability to see their own part in the problem and hence are not able to learn from it. Failure forces people to be introspective. There are two types of learning. Single loop learning which involves the detection and the correction of a problem. Double loop learning asks, "Why is there a problem" Most successful people have little experience of failure and thus have little reason for introspection They then build up defensive behavior and blame others for what has happened when they are involved in some type of botched plan. People usually have an espoused theory of their behavior. This is the value system that they think their behavior is based on. It's usually what they will tell you they are and how they act. But most people have developed a theory of use, which is how they really act. The theory of use is what values we imply the person has from the way that they act. Most people are aware of their espoused theories, but often unaware of their theories-in-use. There is usually a gap between the two, this can become very apparent when a person gets defensive. The problem

Defensive behavior inhibits double loop learning. When a person feels threatened or embarrassed they are usually become defensive. They focus the attention on what the other person or parties have done wrong. This is defensive reasoning. When people don't have the desire to look at themselves and find their part in a situation then they prohibit learning. If the fault lies with others then they are not responsible for the change that must...
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