Reasonably skilled S-O-Lers often begin to work together to support the effectiveness of their Learning Conversations. In many of our projects, including one in Mexico, we found that whilst we were conducting our seminars with a group of university staff, we began as usual, to suggest that they work in three’s: one acting as Learner, the second as S-O-L Coach and the third as Observer of the S-O-L Coaching process. They conducted their three person Learning Conversations in Spanish, of which we had very little. But we were initially surprised to find that by observing what was going on we were still well able to support and encourage them by only following the flow of the conversations without appreciating the words. This was unsought evidence for the importance of the myriad of unspoken meanings that are present and involved in effective learning whenever and where-ever it takes place.

The Coach

Early on we tried to capture the variety of experience underlying our development of S-O-L. In addition to Physics, Maths and Biology, this varied from Zen, Yoga and Jonathan Livingston Seagull to Gödel’s Theorem in addition to our idea of Task-Focused and Learning-Focused components of the three-dialogue Learning Conversation. So our representation of Coaching was more complex than perhaps was needed. Our previous version is shown below:

The Learning Conversation

The Task-Focused PLC. uses ‘Challenging the Robot’ and with its three dialogue’s. It starts with the ‘PROCESS’ dialogue where the user describes how they do whatever they are doing. This challenges the existing level of performance. Very often the challenge a ‘drop’ in performance, this reveals a need for a ‘SUPPORT’ dialogue to enable the learner to work their way through the drop to achieving a successful change. The nature of the change is uses the ‘QUALITY’ dialogue to achieve an improvement in process.

The Learning-to-Learn PLC concentrates on the more universal learning skills, for example; Listening, Reading, Experimenting, Questioning, and so on. Once the budding
S-O-Ler begins to recognise how they learn, they begin to treat the very process of learning itself as a series of skills which can always be improved, refined and sensitively be developed in themselves. This gives the S-O-Ler a different view of the whole nature of the idea of Meaning in itself, and how it can be reviewed and developed to meet their needs and develop their purpose.

The Self-Organised Learners supporting each other

As our S-O-Lers began to work with each other we found ourselves needing to get a much better understanding of conversation as this related to our MAP idea of people. The following diagram attempts to describe how the personal meaning of one needs to be expressed in words and actions to represent it as fully as possible to the other but we found that no matter how carefully we did this there was always a remaining mismatch between what was sent and what was received. At one level this was because our personal meaning is only ever partly conscious to ourselves and the other is the inadequacy of words in expressing this meaning, i.e. diagrams, engineering drawings, chemical formulae, etc of where time as been spent in improving communication.

Given the previous explanations of conversation the diagram (above) is intended to represent to groups of S-O-Lers who, whilst having learning conversations among themselves, are also needing to work and support each other to achieve their joint goals. The reference to Creative Encounters is intended to communicate everything that was originally intended by Maslow (creative ideas which emerge from a group when all enter into opening minded exchange of ideas which eventually gels into something beyond anything that anyone of them had more meeting)