The Robots Within Us?

We have explained in earlier sections what we came to describe as “Robotish Activity”. For example this was explained in some of the menu items of ‘What is S-O-L’.

In the contents of the submenu ‘WHAT IS SELF-ORGANISED LEARNING’, both in the SHORT DESCRIPTION and the MORE DETAILED EXPLANATION we have tried to describe how the majority of people from almost all backgrounds and nationalities come away from whatever formal education they have received, convinced that they know what they are capable of, but that they have also more or less learned their limits. The results of teaching, examinations and indeed from the many “scientific psychological tests” that are in common use; we are often being left with the impression that each of us have learned our limits. This is not only true of the knowledge on offer, but also of the wide variety of types of performance that can be learned from competent teachers and instructors. So for most of us, our educational experience has apparently demonstrated; nay indeed often carefully measured, the limits of our abilities. Indeed, we ourselves started with much the same type of beliefs from our own formal educational experiences. But the positive and negative experiences of wartime evacuation and military call-up, perhaps at least left Laurie just free enough to take notice when the originally unsought, contrary evidence began to accrue.

Our research projects have gradually shown more and more convincingly that many people come away from education, convinced that they have experienced the limits of their abilities: be it in absorbing knowledge, or in the many forms of performance available from the various forms of education on offer; in Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, Colleges and even Universities. The various performance activities associated with education, be they mathematics, swimming, reading, playing the piano, acting, learning to fly a glider and everything in between and indeed beyond: all leave most of the learners convinced that they have learnt their limits.

It was only as we began to get increasing feedback from the teachers, parents, employers, wives and husbands of the people involved in our experiments that we very gradually began to see things differently. From thinking that we might learn how to improve the quality of our teaching, we gradually became more and more convinced that we should investigate how we might enable our learners to confront, and then discover how to revive, develop, challenge and out-grow of their own learning robots.