The general idea of the five levels of personal meaning is perfectly comprehensible to anybody who has been exposed to the “normal” or do we mean “usual” forms of getting the answer right. At various stages and in certain forms of “normal” education, being able to repeat back, (or write back) what the teacher said, is proof that you have been listening, and you have answered the question correctly. But that may be all it means to you. You can say the words correctly so you score. You give it personal (rote) meaning for retention and repetition to prove you “know”; but that is all the meaning it has for you. This is what we mean by learning by ROTE. Rote learning becomes more stable when the various ‘rote learned items’ become more organised one with another. As we begin to store our rote learned items systematically one with another we have called this COHERENT. But they are still only given meaning for nothing much beyond our own retention and repetition. We are all probably aware that some of our meaning (even much of that acquired out of school) remains in this form. For us the next step is when our personal meaning becomes EXPLANATORY; that is it begins to serve various personal purposes beyond just remembering. This is the beginning of skill and understanding.

At the explanatory level, the meaning begins to serve a wide variety of purposes beyond demonstrating that you know. But people vary in terms of where this form of meaning comes from. Some of it comes from dedicated teachers. But much more of it comes from others, either from observation, or from demonstrations, or occasionally from joint supportive work among a group.

Sometimes the explanatory level does not serve our purposes sufficiently well, and we either have to give up, or we must take things into our own hands and become CONSTRUCTIVE revising, adding and changing things so that they work as we want, need, or must have. Just occasionally someone experiences and perceives a need for a radical change; and they make a CREATIVE small change, a more radical change, or just occasionally in a whole area their personal meaning. Most of us do this at one time or another, but we are mostly very unprepared for it.