Didactics Of Love 1.4


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Didactics Of Love 1.4

  1. 1. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education THE DIDACTICS OF LOVE : ON DEEP LEARNING IN COACHING, TRAINING AND EDUCATION Rombout van den Nieuwenhof PhD & Sven De Weerdt PhD Concept translation version 1.4 Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît pas Blaise Pascal, 1662 Introduction Some time ago a Dutch newspaper published a letter from a psychotherapist, who indicated that she nowadays found it almost impossible to do her work properly. An increasing number of institutions is meddling with her work, with the registration, the way of treatment, with the duration, and with the expected results. In her view her professionalism is put under severe pressure as a result of this interference from ‘outside’. According to her, therapy is an open process between two human beings; a subtle process involving the gradual unfolding of engagement and meaning between people under specific conditions. She does not abdicate responsibility for results, as one might possibly object, but argues for a different paradigm: the recognition of the subtlety, fragility and uniqueness of the personal learning process, and for a less business-wise, less abstract and less instrumentalist approach. In this article, we concur with this opinion and shall further expand it. We want to point out the restrictions and dangers of this so-called instrumentalist approach, which appears to be increasingly adopted in the practice of coaching, training and education of employees today. Next, we want to make room for an alternative practice of learning, that can be distinguished from, transcends and encompasses this instrumental approach and its major drawbacks. We call it the Didactics of Love. In our opinion, and that of many others, the instrumentalist view has pervaded our society (Baart, 2004; Bouwen, 2002; Verstraeten, 2001, 2003). In our practices as coach, trainers and organisational consultants too, we observe the dominance of instrumental thinking and reasoning nearly everywhere. Some managers and staff find it almost impossible and even undesirable, to think outside of this paradigm. The reasoning in simple ' cause-effect' relationships, results to be achieved, the specification of step-by-step approaches on the way to a goal, working with models that reduce complex and puzzling realities to seemingly simple diagrams, are seen by many as undisputed examples of sound reasoning in designing change. Whether it involves organisational change, the implementation of HR- policy, management development, education, training or in coaching, in all of these fields we again and again see the application of the instrumental approach. In this article, we will start with a number of general illustrations, and after that we will examine this trend in designing and implementing learning processes such as coaching, training and education of employees, in greater detail.
  2. 2. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education General trend The instrumental view appears to take root more and more widely in our society. For example, an increasing number of companies do business with a small number of suppliers, in order to better manage the quality of their products and services. Apart from the benefits that such shortlists do provide, handling things in this manner, also eliminates variation, chance events and mishaps. And we seriously question the extent to which this is desirable. Many great discoveries and economic innovations are a result of chance and a lot of setbacks. Think, for example, of the glue for ‘post-it’ notes that did not actually want to stick. The objective of finding some specific effective adhesive having remained unsuccessful, someone came up with the idea of using that what they had found, instead of rejecting it. With large economic results, as we all know now. Such accidental discoveries require intelligent sensitivity, unbiased observation and the confidence of knowing that what-is is good. This ‘room for unfolding’, for coincidence and appreciation in an open mind perspective, is in our view at odds with the trend of standardisation and formalization of an increasing number of activities, using pre-structured procedures and protocols. People are reluctant to leave things to chance, and want to have a high degree of control instead. Think, for example, about health care or care for the elderly, which are organised entirely in accordance with the fancy flowcharts from management literature. If I lose my passport, or witness an accident in the street, I have to report the matter to the police, and all subsequent interactions are reduced to series of administrative transactions. If I am suffering psychological stress, I am first placed on a waiting list of the agency charged with providing assistance. Next I meet an intake specialist who doesn’t respond to my problems, but provides the most appropriate referral on the condition that I openly discuss my problem. This type of approach may be considered ‘efficient’ and logistically desirable, but creates an abstraction of the nature of the situation, eliminating its uniqueness and gradually destroying the relationship. Where people become ' cases'and in the long run, will only be , recognised as examples of an abstract category (Baart, 2004). However, the wave of instrumental thinking does not stop, and continues on. For example, managers try to make organisations customer-friendly again by training employees in ‘customer orientation’. What was first removed for efficient and logistical reasons, now has to be ' trained'by third parties. However, this training and education is increasingly standardised as well. So-called successful approaches of one organisation are transferred to other organisations. In this ‘transfer’ the behaviour models and learning interventions risk losing their explorative character and become increasingly normative. Some trainers and educators eventually only respond to deviations from the model and apply behavioural adjustments accordingly. ‘We use this model for customer orientation. Do you recognise the diagrams? Do you think it meets your need for change? In that case, we can train, coach and educate your people.’ The issues easily observed, unilaterally influenced, directly controlled and quickly achieved, are giving priority above all else. Companies are ' result oriented'and want ‘value for money’, and rightly so, given the large sums of money involved in education and training. In the Netherlands and Belgium, we can safely say ' a million dollar market' In the case of a single large-scale training program of an English .
  3. 3. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education multi-national, it involved seventeen million Euros (Senior & Flemming, 2005). Large investments in uncertain outcomes are not regarded as very sensible in economic terms. However, this economic, instrumental form of rationality, brings with it a particular practice, with recurring, undesirable consequences, that most of us are barely aware of. For example, the outcomes of training courses have to be evaluated, preferably in writing and immediately after completion of the course. This immediate and written evaluation often fails to cover the development of the participants (such an evaluation often needs more time, and its results often are more difficult to predict). It therefore does not measure real customer orientation (i.c. the actual development of the participants), but the extent to which they think they will be working in a more customer-oriented manner in the future, based on the models that have been presented. Moreover, for trainers it would be (commercially) unwise to achieve low scores, and they will consequentially focus on achieving the agreed outcomes, neglecting other sometimes more interesting or appropriate opportunities. As a result, the measurement of the degree of satisfaction becomes more important than the depth and richness of the learning process. This leads to a tendency that some sceptics refer to as ‘entert(r)aining’. Training courses are made up of easily understood but often rather superficial models, which can be ' applied in practice instantly’, exercises which immediately demonstrate this, and enough fun and relaxation in between. This type of training also reinforces instrumentalism, consumerism, thinking in generalisations, and here too, there is no room for variation, chance or mishap. When trainers exclusively focus on ‘achievability, results and efficiency’, they will exclude in their orientation the openness for spontaneous learning needs, learning processes and learning opportunities. Efficiency will translate into didactic formulae, which takes most people to the best result by the shortest route, and with the least effort. Group average results and standard approaches that ' have worked' elsewhere, will dominate over exploration, surprise, a deepening of, and personal struggle with, specific cases in the here and now. We believe there is some pattern in the abovementioned illustrations, and a lot more can be mentioned. In this article, we want to use our theoretical interest and practical experience to sketch this underlying pattern, present various interpretations for it, and investigate the ways in which an alternative can be formulated. We base our analysis and our arguments on elements from humanistic psychology, social constructionism and certain streams within psychoanalysis. We have provisionally called the underlying paradigm ‘instrumentalist thinking’. We call a possible alternative the ‘Didactics of Love’. We speak of didactics, and in doing so, we refer to an alternative ‘way to do’, a possible learning path that we think will take us somewhere. This path is not free of the instrumental, but attempts to transform it radically (see Wilber, 2001). Furthermore, the Didactics of Love can be read as a form of cultural critique, which we want to develop through reasoning, as well as through metaphors, illustrations, and evocations. In the first part of this article, we propose the view that instrumental reasoning is based on an underlying pattern, as a self-reinforcing dynamic. A significant part of this pattern consists of distancing, which is expressed in different forms such as abstraction, splitting of
  4. 4. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education responsibilities and taking topics out of their context. Parallel to the tendency of distancing, we believe there is a maturation (or individuation) issue in the undercurrent of organisations on which the instrumental approach seizes on. As we will detail further on, this combination of distancing and individuation issues leads to a strong desire for personal development and deep learning through coaching, training or education, for example. However, this need is, in many cases, again dealt with in such an instrumental way, that it doesn’t meet the need, but instead reinforces and exacerbates it. We will describe three patterns or ‘gestalts’, in which we see this occur in the practise of training, education and coaching. They are: the gestalt of the omnipotence, the gestalt of coercion and the gestalt of perversion. These gestalts anticipate a need for further growth and development, but because they are based on the same paradigm as the source of the felt needs, they do not constitute an adequate response. The question we ask next, is whether there is an alternative, which will meet this need in an more adequate manner. We believe this is possible (though not easy), and will try to describe it. We call it the Didactics of Love. In these didactics, we propose learning as a contextual activity, a relational process, a post-verbal phenomenon and as an act of surrendering. To be able to implement it, trainers, coaches, educators and participants need to cultivate four practices. They are the practices of presence (being present), of interconnectedness (being connected), of humility and of discipline. Distancing from a deficit perspective One of the first things that we notice when looking at the examples of instrumental reasoning mentioned earlier, is the thinking in terms of a ‘deficit’. This deficit reasoning appears to be the basis, or at least a substantial part, of instrumental thinking. We see this being manifested in various ways. To begin with, the reason for training or coaching will, in most cases, be because something is missing. Something that people who need to be trained or coached, do not have. For example, generic and job-specific competencies have been defined, and a certain number of employees from a certain function group have insufficient X or Y competencies. Or a ‘cultural flaw’ in the organisation has been stipulated. Or the production numbers are too low as a consequence of motivational problems. Or there is a ‘substantial knowledge gap’ or there are ‘coordination problems’ as a result of compartmentalisation in the organisation. Or the managers lack ‘vision’ and do not act as ‘leaders’ but as ‘managers’ at best. Leaders in this definition are very charismatic, whereas managers only look after the shop. In this type of picturing, the attention is always focused on what is not there, what goes wrong, and what is missing. This deficiency arises in part, because people look at the organisation from the perspective of a constructed ideal. A ‘picture’ (a normative concept) is used of how it should or could be, and this makes clear what the deficit consists of, and often this concept immediately implies how the deficit should be eliminated, reduced or corrected. Deficit and remedy are usually both sides of the same coin. And often we notice that the deficit is formulated as a result of the remedy, and not vice versa. The problem is then defined in terms of a prefab training course. Deficit thinking consists in our view of a subtle interplay between abstraction, deresponsibilisation, and decontextualisation. We shall try to illustrate this below.
  5. 5. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education The first trap of deficit thinking, i.e. abstraction, has already been touched on above. Instrumental reasoning is often based on abstractions. A ‘competency’ such as customer friendliness is an abstraction, which will then be formulated and used in a normative and corrective manner. The consequence is that the term competency (used in this way), creates distance. It distances. It refers to a 'there'and ' , something that does not exist yet, but later' has to occur in the future. It calls on the individual, an employee or a group, not as a recognition of a desire of that individual or group, but as a suggestion, a pointer towards eliminating the deficiency (that is being suggested) in the future. The suggestion is that there is a deficit that has to be eliminated in order to be or become competent (again). The second step in distancing is that it is often someone else, usually a manager, who formulates this deficiency in rather abstract and general terms. The internal embedding of the learning process in the person that is learning, and the question which type of learning process is suitable for this person and this issue, thereby risks being largely ignored. Instead of the personal struggle in which someone is trying to figure out which kind of learning process might be helpful for him or her, someone else (i.e. the manager) sets a generally determined target (often at too early a stage). Because of this initial splitting of responsibilities, the person who wants or needs to learn alienates himself or herself from an important part of his or her learning process (see text box 1). Suppose that my lack of customer friendliness relates to my shyness, or my fear of intimacy, or perhaps that my lack of customer friendliness is caused by my employer' lack of interest for my situation when s my son was seriously ill. Or all three of the factors. Or perhaps it does not relate to any of it at all. Generic, supply driven training can never uncover the motives, causes or reasons for my lack of ' customer focus' much less train me for it. It fails to recognise most of the , complexity of the learning process. For example, in the case of a complex relational issue between me and my employer, there is even a question whether training is the correct intervention at all. Certainly when the next step is to invite external trainers or instructors to design (‘effective’) interventions on the basis of their expertise. In this third step of distancing, the focus is shifted to objective knowledge and experience (expertise) outside the employee' field of experience and outside the relationship between s the employee and his or her manager. The need for training in this case neither arises as a consequence of a personal investigative process, nor from discussions between the employee and his or her manager, but is gradually defined in a process of abstraction by the manager, who transfers customer requirements to an external training agency with the right knowledge and experience. The training agency is one more step removed from the training needs, and takes the original concerns of the employee to an even more general, more generic level. They are able to do this, and legitimately so, based on their knowledge and experience with similar requirements in other organisations. Generic expertise is thus regarded as added value, at the expense of the added value of a specific, individual or relational learning process. Learning becomes general learning.
  6. 6. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education The training that will ultimately be offered in this way will be further removed from specific needs, specific experiences and specific work practices. One makes use of homogenised customer groups, unknown trainers, residential courses, hypothetical exercises and models that will apply generally. As disconnection (distancing) increases, these practices may undermine a more in-depth learning process. As soon as learning is isolated from real persons, matter and context, a transfer problem occurs, and other types of learning processes that might have been more appropriate, have been excluded. Training in competencies usually remains limited to declarative, methodical and procedural knowledge: participants can explain what customer orientation is, and know the steps towards it, or some ingredients of ‘the’ recipe, but they will not ‘live’ customer orientation. The learning process has been introduced or presented from outside. It does not involve situation- specific, relational and affective embedding. The employee has not learned, by trial and error, successfully and unsuccessfully, to take personal responsibility for (the definition and shaping of) his or her own learning process, and the answers provided do not address the needs underneath. The resulting danger is that no real attempt will be made anymore to integrate this kind of learning into real life. As a result, he or she did not get to know his or her own learning process and therefore his or herself any better. A few weeks later, the customer oriented recipe will already be forgotten: ‘An interesting model... How was it again?’ Text box 1 I sit in the lounge of the training centre. At the large reading table, a group is working on their assignment. They laugh and are having fun. Next, one of them picks up the assignment and starts to read it aloud. He stumbles a little over his words. Another member of the group pulls the plasticized card out of his hand and presents the assignment more smoothly than the first reader. Questions are being asked: 'what exactly do they mean by ... and by ...?' Different explanations are offered from different sides. The confusion is hilarious. A young trainer now enters the lounge. A tall, skinny man with penetrating eyes. A trainer's eyes, I say to myself, but that is not very kind of me. He walks towards the group and stands behind them. The group grows silent, and then turns towards him as one. What is the meaning of the assignment, they ask him. The trainer explains. The group laughs. Especially the one who got it right. How about credit where credit is due? A round of applause please. The trainer stays for a moment and all attention and conversation is now directed to and through him. This lasts for about ten minutes. Then he leaves. At the back of the lounge, another group is at work. He walks over to them, observes them from a distance and then approaches to stand behind them. At that moment, the door opens. A female training colleague enters the room. She walks towards the first group, stands behind them, then lowers herself to her knees and starts a conversation. Fifteen minutes later, she leaves again. The people laugh and lean back on their chairs. Another ten minutes later, they are called into the training room. The group has not done much work. Somehow they will cope, I think. If necessary, they can claim that they didn't understand the assignment.
  7. 7. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education Avoiding individuation We can also look at the relationship between manager and employee from the perspective of a parent-child relationship (Van den Nieuwenhof & De Weerdt, 2008). Below, we deal with the argument that a large part of educational, training and coaching practices intervenes in this relationship and this process of individuation and maturation. In organisations, as in all parts of life, the basic psychological themes of love and intimacy, fear and aggression, Eros and Thanatos, play a part, and all managers and employees are affected by them. Some authors argue that organisations play an important role in coping with and allaying fears, or even that they are a form of fear reduction (Jacques, 1955). This is shown, for example, in the need for procedures and in the development of organizational cultures. When something goes wrong, or if something needs to be coordinated between two departments, the need for a procedure is considered. The autonomy or self-reliance of the two departments will be regulated (and thus fixated) in the form of a standard or another form of formalisation, if future coordination cannot occur ad hoc or through mutual consultation. Where organizational cultures develop, the same process occurs (mostly) tacitly and thus shared norms that indicate ' way we do things here' ' consider this the or we important'are created gradually. Usually the leader plays a significant role in this process. , These forms of standardisation reduce complexity and uncertainty, so that attention and energy can be directed towards other issues. Procedures and arrangements protect members of the organisation from the anxiety (and vulnerability) associated with serious complexity and chaos in the absence of rules or solutions. In this way, organisations take over part of the employees'existential responsibility of dealing with basic vulnerability and anxiety independently, and thereby play a classic, maternal role. The same can be said about the need for vision formulation, competition, the urge to expand, develop entrepreneurship and other aggressive impulses within the organisation. The organisation moulds internal tensions with all sorts of rites and rituals, and puts employees in touch with the outside world, properly instructed and in a responsible manner. The sublimation and channelling of such drives and impulses can be regarded as a classic paternal role. What we want to demonstrate here is our view that there exists a social contract between managers and employees, akin to that between parents and children, with the maturation and individuation of the employee as its theme. Managers often (un)consciously regard employees as children, and employees behave towards their manager as though he or she were or should be a father or mother. The employee is on a path from childish dependency to adult autonomy and later on to adult interdependence (Fijlstra & Wullings, 1996). A large part of education, training and coaching aims at interventions in this thematics. Not because organisations would, in essence, have a pedagogic function, but because individuation themes are an inescapable part of daily professional life. Security and respect, opportunities to grow professionally, and to mature as people and to be of significance to their environment, is what essentially binds employees to an organisation.
  8. 8. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education However, a parent-child relationship is extremely complex and subtle. Especially when taking the view that this interaction needs to be ‘managed’, or that it would be better to outsource it to ‘expertism’. What essentially binds, or should bind, parents and children in this play, is love. Outsourcing is not by definition impossible, but there are questions possible about the motives for outsourcing, to what extent and to whom is being outsourced and what reasoning is used for the outsourcing. With regard to motives, we believe that the instrumental viewpoint fundamentally denies the social contract between employee and organisation in the individuation process. Outsourcing the social contract is not a ‘thing’ one can ‘do’. Just as parents cannot dispose of their responsibility for their children by outsourcing to schools or social workers, and clients cannot outsource the healing process to a therapist. Thus, the social bond between employee and manager cannot be outsourced in principle. However, outsourcing to coaches, trainers and instructors (see text box 2) seems legitimised because of the expertise of training agencies (trainers, coaches, etc.), unless the (act of) outsourcing denies the recognition of responsibility for the reciprocal learning process. ‘My employee needs a good coach’ in fact then means ‘I wash my hands of the responsibility’, ‘I am not going take the risk’, ‘this is too complicated as far I am concerned.’ If this is the motive, it will easily stagnate the individuation of both of them: the employee and the manager. The genesis of individuation requires a relational play, a struggle, a quest, a ' luctor et emergo'between manager and employee. The struggle to overcome the labyrinthine paradoxes they come across on this path, serves the genesis of the employee, of the manager and of their relationship. If the manager and the employee have stood before the burning fires together, have gone to the very depths of projects, if they could do nothing more than just trust each other at certain times, if they have shared the joy of victory, the depths of disappointment, the unfulfilment of deep desires, have shared the cold and the heat with each other, then a relationship will be formed in which both are finally able to come into their own, as human beings, as persons. Text box 2 When an employee makes pertinent but disruptive remarks at a meeting, someone whispers to him that it might be an idea if he were to take a course in communication skills. Another employee, whose initiatives have repeatedly been stifled at their embryonic stage, takes a wait-and-see position at later meetings, and is told during a performance interview that he might benefit from some assertiveness training. Omnipotence, coercion and perversion The two tendencies described above, distancing through abstraction, deresponsibilisation and decontextualisation on the one hand, and outsourcing the social contract and individuation processes on the other, interact in our view. We will indicate below that the reciprocal influence of these two tendencies will lead to self-reinforcing processes in the practices of coaching, training and education. To illustrate this, we will shift our analysis to a characterization of training and education practices in the form of ‘gestalts’. In our opinion, these practices can be regarded as consequences as well as causes of the above- mentioned two tendencies. These gestalts fill the vacuum that is created by instrumental
  9. 9. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education reasoning and outsourcing the social contract, but without satisfying the underlying need of individuation and recognizing the need for personal training. We regard the three gestalts that we put forward here, i.e. omnipotence, coercion and perversion, as practices. We know them as pitfalls from our own experience and that of others, with which coaches, trainers and instructors (and their clients) are confronted. Distancing Avoidance abstraction of decontextualization individuation deresponsibilzation Gestalts Omnipotence, omniscience, coercion & perversion Figure 1: Gestalts and the self-reinforcing dynamics between distancing and the avoidance of individuation Omnipotence and omniscience A first example is our observation that trainers, tutors or coaches stand above everything and do not appear to be bothered by anything. Complex issues will simply, and with strong references to themselves, be denied. It is expertise that predominates as a separate quality and essential characteristics of the agency. Quality is defined as a self-referential product, instead of something that comes out as a result of a relationship. By defining quality unilaterally, the trainer (instructor, etc.) has withdrawn himself or herself from the interaction, the contact and the context. The ‘correct’ models are on hand, based on ‘scientific research’ or ‘years of experience’ with this type of issue, and there is this feeling of being the undefeated champion. As proof, a large number of important achievements and other impressive facts based on the suggested approach can be presented. In training (etc.), the presentation is given ex cathedra: participants are spoken to, rather than spoken with. The focus is on the product, on the supply side. There is little sense of, or respect for, the complexity or subtlety of the organisation' issues, the mutual learning process or the s
  10. 10. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education coaching objective. Some agencies even guarantee solutions in advance because their solutions are valid, or because they have ‘special people’ (highly trained, very experienced, etc.). However, in this gestalt it is not only about what trainers, consultants and agencies do. Clients also contribute significantly to the formation of these practices. For example, clients are only too happy to accept the expertise of the agency, decide on outsourcing and believe they will find certainty in the successes of the agencies. They don’t examine the outsourcing of the social contract and deny the reciprocal relational responsibilities and affective issues. Or they feel misunderstood, see themselves as a ‘special case’, very exceptional, and imagine their issues are only understood by thoroughly initiated and highly qualified people. Of course, every problem is essentially incomprehensible to an outsider. I can never know how another person sees the colour red. However, a trainer or coach does not have to grasp the issue entirely, or understand it completely. An unpretentious trainer will not even pretend this. He or she sees him- or herself as a part of a larger whole. A trainer does not need to be perfect in order to be able to help. Recognizing the infinite complexity of human issues, it is more appropriate to be unpretentious (or even humble). It is enough for a trainer to be ‘good enough’ and to be-there (Winnicott, 1965). The essence of the learning process is when a trainer, instructor or coach searches for a bond, a contact, reciprocity or a real meeting with someone else. A large number of research has shown that, for example, the success of therapy does not depend on the method used, but on the quality of the working relationship. We learned the most from our favourite teachers in high school. Success in learning processes is not so much a question of technique, but the consequence of love (Quinn, 2000). Power and coercion A different practice, which in our view occurs in the slipstream of instrumental thinking and the avoidance of individuation processes, is the gestalt of power and coercion. Power and coercion can manifest themselves in various ways and forms. For example, in the form of wishes and feelings of powerlessness (see text box 3), in the models chosen, or in their application. General models are often very coercive: they sketch the only desired and possible outcome, the only correct answer - disconnected from context and individual variations. Individual variation is also not experienced as enrichening, as a supplement from a different position or as the start of a collective search process, but as an annoying exception that proves the rule and which does not need to be considered at length. High demands, much repetition and hard work are the characteristics of this gestalt. It makes the behaviour of the trainers and coaches coercive, tiresome, dominant and aggressive. They confront without showing any respect, often under the guise of good intentions. It is the one who helps that hurts. However, the clients play a role too in this regard. Managers, as a consequence of their suppressed impotence, may secretly wish that their employees will finally get to ' the truth' hear during the training. A manager said once to his coach that he finally ' wanted to hear the unvarnished truth about himself’ and another one told a trainer that he now wanted to see ' some tears in the eyes of his employees’. Sometimes, people volunteer to allow themselves to be humiliated by a trainer, tutor or coach, because this was supposed to be ‘good’ for them. They accept the interrogative discourse of the coach, and answer from this position every question asked, and carry out every assignment. Intimate
  11. 11. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education details that we are not ready to disclose, have to be confessed here and now. Anxiety, guilt and shame are defined as forms of resistance, and are used as crowbars. Resistance has to be overcome, instead of softening and dissolving it with courage, trust and love. Participants, however, can also respond with power or resistance. It is the well-known game of ' baiting the trainer' participants collectively dig in their heels. They talk in simplified : unarticulated terms: the training is no good, the trainer is no good, there is nothing new, we don'want to do this. t Text box 3 The striving for power of helpers, is in many cases not experienced as power, but as feeling powerless. The feeling that they should be able to do more; that they would like to have the means to bring about in the lives of people, that which – those providing assistance – approve of for their clients. (...) ‘I often cannot get the people to go where I want them to go. (..) I am starting to lose confidence in myself. I wish I could make my colleagues understand in order that they would think about the aggressive behaviour of young people in the same way I do, so that they would not immediately ring the police. I am treating a boy who is increasingly shutting me out. I wish that I could break through that shell and make him happy. (..) I wish I had the means to keep people away from drugs and suicide.’ (De Roeck, 1982, p. 34) Perversion A third gestalt has distinct perverse characteristics (Vansina, 2000). Some forms of training and coaching unashamedly look at the inner self, unashamedly enter the private domain. This sort of voyeurism has little or nothing to do with the learning process of the person being coached. Discursive coercion plays a role here. The language used in coaching, training and instruction creates an expectation with regard to the role and behaviour of the coach and the client (Flameling & Van den Nieuwenhof, 2005). In coaching, education and training, people use sometimes a general, categorizing scientific language, which excludes the uniqueness and otherness of the other. It leaves little room for ambiguity, for another type of observation, for another explanation or for the simple observation that there is no explanation (yet). No explanation stops all action. Like when a doctor does not know what to do for a patient, when there is no name for the disease. On the flip side, we see instructors, trainers and coaches who resort to quick, general, a priori interpretations, removed from the context, the history, the relationship and from the individual or the group. Everything, for example, is explained by ‘anxiety’, as a general, a priori concept, all behaviour is ' resistance' or is explained as ‘acting out’ (escaping into an action mode , instead staying with the fears). Apart from the fact that the specifics of an issue disappear in this way, the result is inequality of power (rather than the power of equality). In the process, the candidate must let the coach pry deep into their private domain, allowing him- or herself to be tempted into embarrassing observations and confessions and to be manoeuvred into a depressive position in which all shortcomings need to be confronted. Perverse coaches and trainers hide behind their role. They do not need to explain, for example, why
  12. 12. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education they ask certain questions, where they place the emphasis and why, and what their own experience is with the subject matter. They hide their fear of impotence by disposing of complex questions with quick explanations, fast labels or the exploration of shortcomings. However, even the kind urge to release the suffering, largely misunderstands the mystery of the desire hidden in the struggle and suffering (Baart, 2004). It generates a practice in which personal problems and issues are exercised away through repetitious role-plays and assignments. Or they are privatised in an endless series of private discussions. Coaching is not a secret whispering, nor a private confession in the locked domain of coaching practice. Coaching occurs in the here-and- now, in action, in the reciprocity of a relationship, and cannot be separate from life itself. This was nicely demonstrated by a client (who was a coach herself), who went and saw a coach because she admired him. This admiration led to a dependency, which was the reason for her visit. A paradox was created. If the coach were to coach her, the dependency would be confirmed. If he did not do anything, there would not be any coaching. What to do? After a few sessions, the coach proposed to stop the coaching and to work instead as colleagues on a certain project. In this way, the need for subjection (discursive coercion) that arises out of coaching was being explored, but now in the mature reciprocity of daily reality. Our argument therefore, is that coaching is not a purely cerebral or emotional, private activity without context. Coaching is a relational experience and activity within its own context, creating meaning in the here-and-now, a living experience that connects the inner world with the outside world. The didactic of love Before we continue with our line of reasoning, we wish to point out that the above- mentioned gestalts are perhaps unavoidable to a certain extent. Therefore, some nuances are appropriate. When designing learning processes, a certain form of abstraction is always needed and a certain degree of decontextualising is unavoidable. Decontextualising can also be enrichening, just as a right distribution of responsibilities can be beneficial for the learning process, because participants can not and do not need to design and organise their learning process completely by themselves. And most professionals will recognize in themselves the stereotype of the all-knowing, coercive and perverse coach, instructor or trainer within this domain. It is quite common for trainers to seek support among themselves after dealing with a difficult group, when they lost their patience or couldn’t deal with their impotence in any other way. Nothing new there. As far as we are concerned here, the important thing is to offer a critical perspective on current, structured learning practices. We shall do this by talking about distancing, the avoidance of individuation and the three gestalts. In doing so, we wish to focus attention on certain phenomena, which, in our view, are closely associated with the instrumentalist perspective on learning. Each of these elements seizes on and simultaneously reinforces a need for deep learning and personal development, so we seem to enter a self-reinforcing spiral. However, in other areas, there is appreciation, reciprocal understanding, dialogue, the unfolding of the subtlety of the learning process, ownership of the things we learn, etc. We would like to call this practice, love. Where human respect and connectedness are central, and where ' that-what-is' is more important than ' what is missing'We are searching for a didactic that can connect us . with love, dignity, goodness and beauty. We wish to examine what it means to return to this
  13. 13. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education lost simplicity, the forgotten knowledge about Love. What are the elements that comprise the Didactics of Love? What notions about learning are central to it? Learning is contextual The opinion that learning can occur outside a context, is a widespread misunderstanding (Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989). Paulo Freire once said that ‘you cannot learn to swim in a library.’ This kind of learning presupposes action, presupposes enactment, and more specific: enactment in contact with the subtlety and complexity of the specific context. Eye- to-eye with a practical problem, you receive a lot more impressions than can be described or dealt with theoretically. Aristotle already made a distinction between epistème and phronèsis. Between theoretical learning, where a certain degree of abstraction is unavoidable, and learning in the light of a varied and complex reality, which is linked to practical knowledge. No matter how much physics an engineer knows, he cannot design an aircraft with it. To generate practical knowledge you must be able to connect your general knowledge with a specific context, and the opposite: make sense out of a large number of often ambiguous impressions that arise from the activity in practice (Van den Nieuwenhof, 2005). The uniqueness, multiplicity and ambiguity of the impressions, make an appeal to the actor to relate in one way or another to the issue in question. Therefore, in order to be able to learn, the conceptual framework, which determines the nature of the observation and the relation, must be expanded. New concepts can reveal what was not visible previously. However, this has not changed or increased the ability of someone to learn. In new situations, once again only the familiar will be observed. Learning has not been learned. And if someone else sees reality through quite another lens, misunderstanding or confusion will occur once again. Only one of the two can be true, because according to classical logic, a statement cannot be both true and untrue. According to the Didactics of Love, both statements are either true or untrue, but this is immaterial. What is of more importance is the quality of the relationship between both persons which arises from the differences of opinion. If this relationship becomes a stubborn conflict between positions, connection, certainly a loving connection, is out of the question. The other person will be seen as (too) different from oneself and is therefore denied as Other. The other person will only be recognized (allowed, appreciated, approved, listened to) to the extent that he or she is the same as I (Janssens & Steyaert, 2001). However, the mere fact that the other observes something differently, makes it unmistakable that there is no ‘one reality’. And as soon as we would enter into a discussion about the different observations and truths, it would become clear that, in principle, an infinite variety of observations and their consequences is possible. Therefore, each choice for one of the possibilities constitutes a limitation and exclusion of numerous other possibilities. This fundamental recognition of the complexity of the context and of the perceptions of that context, makes a rational reduction of reality or a purposeful management of interactions between people with various opinions, a hopeless task. ‘The universe is change, life is opinion’, according to Marcus Aurelius (1999, IV.3, p.13). Reality is infinite variation, infinite movement, endless flexibility, which we allow to be temporarily solidified through our choices. As we usually imagine ourselves as being solidified. The Didactics of Love in its definition, places the emphasis more on a process of value attribution out of which a certain personal quality of being may develop; it is more
  14. 14. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education about a beauty and truthfulness, than about any truth. Learning is relational If the above-mentioned can be agreed upon, the following conclusion may be drawn: not recognizing a different perspective of another person implies that the complexity of existence is limited. We say that it is not true, not relevant, not important what another person thinks, whereas we know that what we think, believe or feel ourselves, is also just a small and temporary slice of an incomprehensible whole. We deny the validity of the other’s observation, the variety of the observations, or we deny the relationship (Van den Nieuwenhof, 2005). But then the question remains: on which ground can be claimed that the opinion of the other is not important? Based on what evidence or principle? In many cases, the motive for this is anxiety or self-interest (egotism). The argument of the other person will be rejected because we cannot suspend our own frame of reference or fear that some of our interests will be damaged. We instantly label the interests of others as being either in conflict with our own interests, or not. The other person can (in this perspective) be either cooperative or uncooperative. This is what we think Buber means when he talks about an instrumental relationship. In his classic work ‘I and Thou’ (1958) he distinguishes between the ‘I-Thou’ relationship which is direct, reciprocal, present and open, and the ' I-It' relationship in which we relate indirectly and without reciprocity, ‘knowing and using the other’. In personal development, Buber does not emphasise the role of one party or the other, but the relationship between them. ‘Being made present by the other and knowing that we are made present by them’ (Buber, 1958, p.61). Here, Buber proposes the terms ‘confirmation’ and ‘inclusion’. ‘If you can only see the other person as an extension of yourself, dialogue becomes fiction, the mysterious link between two human worlds just a game, and in the rejection of real life, the essence of the whole reality starts falling apart’ (Buber, 1958, p. 24). For real confirmation, it is not sufficient for me to buy the attention, time and skills of the other person. Friedman (in Frie, 2003) about Buber: ‘In order to achieve real dialogue, it is important that I take a personal, independent stance, at some distance from the other person, and that I make the connection autonomously. When I am seen and recognised as a unique person, as the person I am, I will be validated, not as a role model for the other person, but as the unique human being that we are able to become’ (p. 54). Buber shows us, in plain terms, the value of loving recognition of the uniqueness of the other person. This is not the same as approving of everything the other person does or says, nor does Buber refer to a symbiotic merging, in which one person loses him or herself in the other, or to the process of identification in which the other resonates within him or herself. Inclusion is only created by realistically seeing the other person (at a little distance) as another person, and bringing the otherness of the other towards oneself. However, on condition that one is able to relate to the other person and the difference ‘at a little distance’ and ‘realistically’. ‘Mirroring’ allows others to show how they see us. However, when this mirroring is not realistic, seriously distorted, manipulative, intrusive or insufficient, then the ' develops a ‘false self’ (Winnicott, 1965) and creates the core of pathology. The quality of I' mirroring in the learning practice must therefore allow and invite people to become themselves. This means that the ‘Didactics of Love’ are aimed at mirroring the other person as a complete human being. The fact that not (only) deficiencies and the effort or will to compensate for them is of primary consideration, but (also) the abundance. That not only
  15. 15. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education the learning of new skills is central, but also the use of existing talents and skills that people already have. That not only the general, efficient, external model is of central importance, but (also) the person who is learning in the way he or she is. Real learning occurs in a context of freedom. ‘Leaving being as being is’ (Heidegger, 1930). Being seen by another person as a human being, as an Other, is not a technical activity, not a skill. It is presence in freedom, a being there in touch with what is: ‘Dasein’. This is also something that we intuitively and confidently already know within ourselves. The question of whether Love really exists in a learning process can always be answered with ‘no’. ‘Love and truth are evident’, writes Lacan (1966). ‘We do not infer or hypothesize it, we know it through a shudder in our being’ (Cannon, in: Frie, 2003, p. 38). Learning is embodied The main activity in many training, education and coaching is a cognitive activity in which the 'talking about' stands central. Physically, this implies long periods of sitting still, with a trainer or teacher standing in front of the group, and often brief breaks to stretch the legs and allow oxygen to circulate through the arteries. ‘From the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen’ is a line from a song by Cat Stevens, which typically reflects the passivity of many learning practices. Although it has been known for a very long time in neurophysiology (Damasio), philosophy (Rorty), psychology (Pesso) and psychiatry (Gendlin), that the learning process involves the entire body, and for example Socrates regularly taught while walking, this wisdom is systematically ignored in education, training and coaching situations. The body is scarcely part of the learning process. Completely erroneously: the ‘present body’ is a source of great knowledge, where knowledge is locked away that can not be reached rationally. This knowledge can become accessible when being lightly and intuitively aware of the body. Complex problems such as the purchase of a house, can be better solved intuitively, and we are better off keeping rational considerations only for the simple, less complicated decisions. Herbert Simon was awarded the Nobel prize for this conclusion as far back as the 1960' ‘We know more than we can tell’ says s. Polanyi (1967, p. 4), referring to the tacit knowledge we have acquired. Management guru, Chester Barnard (1938), writes about the aesthetical dimension of wisdom in management as something you sense as ‘beauty’. The language in which we express ourselves is always just one slice of many, and (therefore) language is not aware of many more. Only when we can let go of closed cognitive concepts, wider knowledge beyond language and beyond cognition can come to the surface. During a course in leadership, a group of governors undertook a simple, role play exercise in which they had to keep equal distances to each other whilst walking through a room. From the patterns that developed, it became for instance (non-verbally) very clear, who caused the gaps, and who felt responsible for closing them up. Al Pesso, the inventor of body focused therapy, calls this ‘holes and roles’. Holes eliciting roles. The added value of the embodied knowledge lies on the one hand in the limitation of cognitive knowledge against a background of multiple complexities. On the other hand cognitive knowledge also causes alienation. Students often become weary after studying for a long time, and often educated people are a little out of touch. Embodied knowledge is much richer. It comprises for example the relational, emotional and practical aspects of existence. Things people learn cognitively often can not easily be put ' into
  16. 16. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education practice'Things that have been learned relationally, emotionally and through action, can. . Embodied learning also surpasses the symbolic dimension (of language) and can achieve a spiritual dimension. By descending into the depths of the body, divine dimensions may reveal themselves. Various religious didactics teach us that it requires courage, patience and confidence to be present within our bodies and to listen to what it has to say. The analogous language of the body is not a language of great clarity. It opens up important feelings and offers a true sense of being, without pointing out exactly what to do. ‘The cry says but cannot show because it has no grammar’ says Wittgenstein (in: Heaton, 2000). Didactics of Love does not address a defined part of who we are, but our entire being, including the body. Learning as surrendering Groups that have difficulty with learning, are sometimes referred to as ‘stumbling groups’ (Bettenhausen & Murningham, 1985). Stumbling groups are afraid of falling, but cannot stand up either. They are groups, not able to develop their own point of view, their method of operation, their rules of engagement, their values and their cohesion. They deviate from deviations. No grip is created. No anchoring points. Nobody is satisfied. The group is drifting. What is it then that holds the group together? Why don'they just say goodbye to t each other? What explains the continuation of their relationship? ‘They don’t want to be together, but are no good on their own’ wrote P.C. Kuiper (1980), the nestor of Dutch psychiatry a long time ago. They are groups who are afraid to fall. They are afraid of letting go of the old and familiar, to hang up their coat and choose an entirely new road, with all the risks that come with it. They prefer to stick to superficial rules, agreement-is-agreement agreements at the end of the training course, and flee into phantasy scenarios of how they will (re)discover a meaningful role on the faded playground of their organisation. To plunge into the unknown, people need love. To start with, love of oneself. The undignified clinging and stumbling, will result in a loss of human dignity. After a while, as compromise after compromise is made, barely a core is left to agree with the next compromise. To be able to love oneself, requires confidence and commitment, and this in turn leads to self- respect. People and groups can make brave decisions only by really loving themselves. Only when I really love myself, I can ask the question of whether I still regard myself as dignified in this situation, and what will remain of my dignity if I now deny or negate my authenticity. And only when I really love myself, I will be able to decide that my self-worth outweighs the denial and the strategic gain. Only then shall I be able to enter an uncertain future and find my way. And during this quest, during this mystical struggle, I can (re)discover my desires, and get rid of the compromises that may have been useful in the short term as a survival mechanism, but which would have curbed my authenticity in the long run. In this quest, I can again find myself, my self-respect, and my self-worth. ‘To become who we truly are’ said Kierkegaard (1941, p. 29). The question for the Didactics of Love, is to what extent the learning programs are aimed at allowing people to practise the discovery of personal worth rather than at maintaining a safe shelter. To what extent are people exposing themselves, surrendering themselves to the universe of uncertainty, and learning to discover themselves in this fall, rather than learning yet more adapted behaviour, developing yet more strategic selves (Knibbe, 2001) with the help of new fancy
  17. 17. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education diagrams and models or alternatively. Instruments, models, diagrams in education and training, carry the inherent danger of serving as a support for observation, emotions, behaviour and relation. So that we won' fall down. Although participants can sometimes t clearly feel that they are standing close to the abyss of their existential questions, they are often distracted with superficial models and simple theories for reassurance, before they are able to get any closer to the edge of the abyss and look into the unfathomable depths. A friend of ours has a fifth Dan karate, and participates in ‘full contact’ competitions. When we asked him why, he answered: ' look fear in the eye' If the fear is not permitted, may ' to ' . not be seen, nothing can be learned from it. What is my deepest fear? That is what I want to know. Otherwise I will avoid what I fear the most for all of my life, and consequently my fear will take the place of my living in freedom. One must learn to die, in order to learn to live. Avoiding or escaping the fall, keeps you away from your core, from your senses and your passions. Courage has everything to do with vitalising trust in yourself (Tillich, 1955/2004). Moreover, the discovery of self-worth also connects people with each other and makes life meaningful. ' 'Happiness is a feeling of being meaningfully connected with a larger whole' the poet Reiner Maria Rilke once wrote. Happiness is being able to ' , confidently commit yourself to something larger, and being carried along by it. The word euphoria originally points to this. It is a fall, because the whole is always larger than you will be able to imagine. To surrender requires courage and love, for oneself and for other people. Towards practices of love In this article, we started with a sketch of the dynamics in many current instrumental training and coaching practices. In this analysis, we wanted to show what happens when one thinks (and acts) continuously in terms of scarcity, shortage and deficit. We spoke in this regard about a tendency of distancing characterised by abstraction, deresponsabilisation and decontextualisation. We also indicated how, in our view, these dynamics limit the developing relationships between managers and employee in principle. In this way the organisation deprives its duty to freedom; both employees and managers lose an important opportunity of individuation. A vacuum is created. This interaction pattern takes a disastrous turn when, in this vacuum, remedies are offered that are based on the same assumptions of deficit and distancing. We have called this the gestalts of omnipotence, power and perversion. We have shown that the gestalts respond to the increasing need for deep learning processes, and how they do it, yet do not meet this need in any respect. Instead, the remedy becomes the cause. We now want to argue for the recognition of (radical) other practices and richer approaches to learning. We call this quest for alternatives ‘Didactics of Love’. We will put forward four characteristics of learning from the perspective of this alternative. Each of these characteristics is connected with each other, point us to a source of knowledge and learning that taps into the Didactics of Love: their embeddedness in a unique, dynamic context; their complexity inviting us to surrender, letting go confidently; the relational quality with other persons, and the contact with that what goes beyond linguistic representation. We want to link these characteristics to another four learning practices, which each provide a starting
  18. 18. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education point for a practise the Didactics of Love. We call them practices, because we want to refer to what is actually realised in the outside world, in practice. This practice is more than the application of a theory. In practice, things come alive in abundance and with multiple layers. Nor is a practice an isolated activity: it refers to something that is sustainable, is created through interaction, and it invites to reciprocal engagement (Wenger, 1998). Each of the four teaching practices provide what will be central in the Didactics of Love: the living experience in the here and now. Being present Living Connectednes Discipline experience s Here-and-now Humility Figure 2: Didactics of Love The practice of being present When training or coaching people, we experience love at moments when we let go of our preoccupations and are able to pay attention to what is really happening. Attention for ' what is there'This means, in the first instance, slowing down. Attention cannot be focussed at . speed, during the quick passing of a large number of events. Giving attention requires that one notices what is there. Offering a few fractal moments the possibility to unfold the larger complexity in the here and now. Through presence the what-is-there can unfold itself. That is: the beauty and the ugly, the gentle and the anger, the altruistic and the egoistic, the good and the bad, that which has been undone and stored in the body for a long time, but is not felt. ‘I feel nothing’, said a client to her therapist, and the therapist answered: “Can you describe this ' nothing'for me?” Being really present requires an open mind for what is there. ‘Without memory, without conceptions, without desire’, as Wilfred Bion (1970) put it. Without memory of how it was in the past, how it has always been, how it usually works, because that is what takes away the opportunities of seeing, experiencing, feeling what there is at the present moment. Without mental or analytic concepts, because concepts lock in certain aspects, which automatically locks other aspects out. Aspects, which do not fall
  19. 19. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education within the frame of the concept being used. If we focus on anger, we do not see the sadness, the despair, the impotence, the dream that lies shattered. They are outside our observation. If we focus on what we ought to do, or what is right, or what we allow ourselves to do, everything dangerous or not permitted, falls outside our observation. And without desire, because the desire to help someone else, cure them, teach them something, (also often) denies what-is-there, and what-is–there (also) wants/needs recognition as such. Giving attention is more ‘care’ than ‘cure’, it is more being there, than having to change something. In the presence and attention for the here and now, the subtle quality of what there is, is recognised, and the detailed recognition will often take on a universal meaning (see text box 4). A fragment or detail can take on the meaning of an overarching truth, of knowing, of the trans-personal. ‘The most personal, is the most universal’ wrote Carl Rogers (1961). And according to the Dutch poet, Willem Kloos: ‘in our most profound thoughts, we are God’. By being aware of our bodily feelings, enacted behaviour, motives and opinions of ourselves and of other persons, a substantial and existential relationship is created with my feelings, my body, those opinions, the other person, etc ... A grounding, a substantial relaxation and ‘existential descending’ can occur. Truth of a higher order may enter. The result is the melting of superficial adjustments, of the strategic I’s that the ego has created over the years. ‘I no longer wished for things to be better’, wrote Augustine in his Confessions, ‘because I regarded everything as part of a whole’ (in White, 2001, p. 49). I might say: if the place I want to get to could only be reached by way of a ladder, I would give up trying to get there. For the place I really have to get to is a place I must already be at now... Anything I might reach by climbing a ladder, does not interest me. Wittgenstein, 1992, p. 37 Although we clearly point to psychotherapeutic and spiritual learning processes here, it can, in our view, also be applied to everyday activities, and does not limit itself to the sublime or the chosen few. In sales training, the trainer asks not to respond to sales cues, but offers opportunities to exchange the strategically manipulated armour of the slicky salesperson for authentic behaviour that allows him or her to really relate to the buyer. This way we make a step in the direction of the I/Thou relationship that Buber talks about, which benefits both the buyer and the salesperson, but also a manager, an employee, a leader, a barrister, a doctor, a teacher, or a mechanic. ‘In my relationships with persons I have found that it does not help, in the long run, to act as though I were something that I am not’ writes Carl Rogers (1961, p.16). If a trainer/coach is able stay close to himself and to his experience, he or she (implicitly) invites the participants to do the same. We then may encounter something that has not been foreseen, give it our attention and continue to work with it. This giving attention to the unforeseen, turns learning into something capricious and unpredictable, but also into something a lot richer than the learning process all laid out in advance. In moments like this, we realise that the structure of training must be in support of the teaching and the students, rather than the trainer or the program.
  20. 20. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education Text box 4 At a certain point during the course, in a quieter moment, a student heard the sound of a woodpecker. At the moment of hearing it, without being consciously aware of ‘I hear a woodpecker’ or ‘I sit here, inside and the woodpecker is outside’, she experienced an intense connection with her wider surroundings. She connected through the sensation of sound. From the moment she started actively listening to the woodpecker, the feeling of a connection disappeared because she made the woodpecker into an object. The practice of connectedness Love is entering into a relationship with oneself and others. A trainer or a coach will not stand above or opposite to his or her clients, but walks alongside and tackle the project together. By seeking, exploring and building together. ‘Together’, in this case means interdependence, which leaves behind the more child-like or pubescent relationships of dependency or counter-dependency, but also transcends the already more grown up autonomy and, after that, mutual interdependence (Fijlstra & Wullings, 1996). ‘It began to occur to me that unless I had a need to demonstrate my own cleverness and learning, I would do better to rely upon the client for the direction of movement in the process’ Rogers, 1961, p. 12 The interdependent relationship enables co-creation of the learning process, where responsibility is shared rather than divided, much less monopolised. Entering into a relationship also means that we break out of individual isolation, because the learning processes are taken away from the closed, private, cerebral domain, and are brought into the context of the relationship. Learning, working through emotions or expanding mental frameworks, in essence does not occur through internal, reflective activity, but through activation in our relationship with or to another person. We leave the private area, in which feelings, opinions or thoughts were kept hidden or implicit, and enter into the domain of the other person, of what is public, which enables objectification, re-verification and re- evaluation. By relating it with or to another person, some form of unpredictability and transformation will always occur, which gives the action an experimental and liberating character. A boundary is moved from private to public, from subjective to inter-subjective, from fixed to experimental, from ' is impossible'to ' can be done' from true to this this , possible and from possible to true. By learning openly in a relationship, a transformation occurs, and with it, liberation as well. It breaks through the isolation and creates a realisation of (the possibility of) fundamental connectedness. In this way, the process shifts from individual learning, to connected or relational learning, and towards taking responsibility for the other person. The learning is no longer (only) aimed at an individual growth process, but one becomes aware that there is a task for us/ourselves within the community. Learning has a loftier objective and that objective is to serve others, to be of value to the community, to leave a legacy. This realisation will give meaning to the
  21. 21. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education individual existence. It places the individual within a community, a community that is meaningful for him or her. In learning practice, the accent is no longer limited to individual learning efforts (I have to learn), but attention is shifted to the facilitation of learning processes in and of this community. The recognition of the difference (in opinion, appreciation, emotions, experience, etc.) with the other person, from the perspective of a fundamental connectedness with the other person, makes a contribution to the enrichment, the abundance, the multiplicity, the colourfulness of this community. In addition to the loving discovery of ourselves, the other person and the community, love can take the shape of feeling connected to the larger whole and derive confidence from it. When people seek trust in surrendering, they will make contact with a deeper way of being than if they try to find it in certainty and control. From the awareness of and participation in the larger whole, comes the confidence that ‘things feel their way and find their place’. ‘Trust the process’ is the recognition that we do not have the process in our control, and that we would be better off (learning) to surf the waves of chaos than trying to row against them on our own. The practice of humility Love, is knowing that you do not know. Having confidence in the large whole referred to above, does not arise from being clever or from being all-knowing, but from respect for the multiplicity and complexity of reality. This realisation makes us also immediately aware that it cannot be managed or manipulated. Appropriate didactics does not reside in the mind of the facilitator, but in-interaction and in-context. It unfolds in a process. ‘Variables’ may interact in this process, but never just in a predictable way. The course of a billiard ball can be calculated precisely, and if it is queued with perfection, the outcome is known. In learning processes, the interaction between variables is non-linear, unpredictable and transformative. Setbacks turn out to be good luck, threats can be opportunities, and vice versa. The caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. Love can be impossible and incomprehensible to outsiders, and even insiders often find it to be far bigger than they themselves can grasp, and yet, that is precisely what love is. Because it is incomprehensible. If learning follows the processes of attention, and because of its complexity can never be predicted or contained, then humility or modesty over the ability to manage this process is appropriate. Such modesty is not a fatal or cowardly submission, but facilitates the surrendering, the fall, to let go of the efforts of the ego to want, must, manage, control and influence at all costs, to let go of all the rowing upstream and to rely intelligently on the process. To give up the constrictions of the constructed ‘I’, which in the past has often been built up as a defence against the outside world, and to surrender to the large whole. In the tradition of Zen, the master gives his disciples a Koan (a riddle) for this purpose, causing a short-circuiting of the limited cognitive rationality of the ego. ‘If everything can be reduced to the one thing, what can the one thing be reduced to?’ is such a question. Or: ‘if applause is the sound of two hands clapping, what is the sound of one hand clapping?’ It challenges the logic of the ego, and the more the ego clings to it, the better the Koan does its work. As we know, Zen is a tough school. Disciples sleep on wooden floors, are not permitted to eat from noon, subject themselves to daily rituals, and are sometimes ordered to sleep on a stick for a week. This ‘sleeping on a stick’ can be regarded as a form of Didactics of Love. For example, we have used it in a training course for internal coaches
  22. 22. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education of a municipal council. The basic proposition is: a client approaches a coach because he or she has trouble with something or suffers pain. But what is this pain? What does the client mean when he or she talks of pain? To investigate this, the course participants lay on the floor for 15 minutes with an object (a bunch of keys, a pen, a stone from the gravel path outside) under their backs, and experienced how they deal with pain themselves in the here and the now. Sometimes the back gets hot, then the discomfort disappears again and it starts to sting somewhere else. Some people start arguing busily, others slide into a dream and do not even notice the pain anymore because they associate the experience with a pebble beach in Greece. Others get angry with the trainer and look for a way out in that direction. We afterwards compared these observations with each other and with our experience with coaching clients. What are the parallels? What are the modalities of pain? What is the role of the cause (the bunch of keys) and what is the role of the client? Is one able to endure pain, or is it ignored or externalized? We learn from this that pain is not a static fact, but a dynamic and ever changing process; and that it is better to follow the pain than to fixate on it (explaining, interpreting). Otherwise we remain the captive of our limiting language, like a fly in a bottle, endlessly buzzing in search of a way out. The practice of discipline Each of the three abovementioned practices, that of being present, connectedness and being humble, each require their own variety of courage: the courage to remain close to an experience and to examine it, the courage to stay connected and the courage of not-knowing as a lever for learning. Discipline stands for the capacity to mobilize courage continuously, even if it becomes difficult. Discipline is not being harshly strict with yourself, or as a facilitator to others. Discipline is being considerate, appreciative (intelligent) and gentle, especially regarding the experience of uneasiness, pain and the discomfort in which one resides. But discipline is also strict and implacable, and tenacious to values, dignity to what is good. Quinn (2004) speaks of ‘tough love’ in this regard: discipline and courage show people that behind those fears, desires and thoughts, hides a more substantial reality, a reality that we can call ‘greatness’, ‘basic goodness’ or ‘veracity’ (Koestenbaum, 1991). Discipline relates to repetition in the learning process. Learning, falling, getting up and starting anew with learning. Discipline has nothing to do with ' having to' We would prefer to call that coercion. By . setting high standards, strong perfectionism or fierce normative frameworks, people may needlessly torture themselves. Discipline in the learning process is much more subtle and more intelligent. Devoted to the same path, the same pace, moving forward a little step at a time. Discovering new terrains beyond where we ended last time, with attention to the detail or to the whole. There is no repetition as long as details continue to differ. This game can be observed, let go, and room may be created for new thoughts and observations which enable us to peel away each layer, enabling us to get closer to ourselves. Take for example, my desire to stop smoking. I haven’t smoked for two days, which is very good of me, therefore, as a reward, I should be able to have a small puff ... The ego plays games with us because it is addicted to the habit and does not care who I really want to be (see text box 5). This is not in the interest of the ego. Attention or mindfulness is an exercise in the
  23. 23. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education discipline of not-doing. Each interpretation, each reading, each labelling can be regarded as a form of (ego-)fear (Winnicott, 1969). It interrupts the process of unfolding and rediscovering authenticity and brings the movement to a standstill again. It requires courage and discipline to return to the ‘hot spot’ and stay there. To accept responsibility for one' s own learning process, and not passing it onto someone or something else. To enter the fear, and to search and discover that fear is not your enemy but your friend. It is a process of surrendering and chastening. What separates the chastened adult from those for who it all came automatically? In the Buddhist tantra tradition, decline and death are subjects for meditation, in order to learn to embrace the fullness of life. Didactically, this means that one stands still with fear, boredom, distraction, dread, temptation, the tricks of the ego, and learns to embrace what were previously shortcomings, what one is unable to do, is afraid of, keeps fleeing from, constantly fights against and always avoids. Text box 5 A female client in the coaching profession finds a new job, but has reservations about her new general manager: can he be trusted? He is a political animal and has done 'strange things' with his staff in the past. Alerted by this observation, she decides to be careful and tries to make as few mistakes as possible. When she is nevertheless called to account about something trivial, she responds like a scolded cat: fierce, brusque and defensive. Her general manager is surprised and wants to discuss the subject. However, she responds sharply, denies any wrongdoing and reacts with reproach. After a few months, she is caught in the web that she feared the most: a very suspicious boss and the threat of dismissal. Can she embrace her anger, overcome her ego and find out what is causing her fear and driving her to attack like a terrified animal again and again? Conclusion In order to do things out of love, one has to think of oneself as imperfect. (Tolstoy, 2002, p. 50) We have presented an alternative to the current instrumental approach to coaching, training and education, above: The Didactics of Love. This alternative will not be able to replace dominant practice just like that. We clearly understand that the Didactics of Love will not simply win the right to exist in the contemporary learning practice. Current thinking in deficits, distancing and de-contextualisation, etc. is too dominant. If one questions the mechanism of instrumentalism in our world view, it is our experience that eyebrows are raised immediately: - What are you saying? - Don't you want to work more efficiently? - Hmmm ... That's strange. - So what is it you want? - To let the learning issue unfold itself, you say? - I must honestly tell you that it doesn’t sound very concrete! Do you have any experience
  24. 24. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education with this? - Well ... How will I know whether I am going to get value for my money? Also participants are not always willing or able to do what the Didactics of Love expects from them as learning practices (Van den Nieuwenhof, 2005). However, in many situations this is just a convenient argument to hide behind. We get the impression that the Didactics of Love are largely ignored in education, training and coaching environments. Educational requirements are often quickly reduced to skills and knowledge issues, without doing justice to the underlying more fundamental questions of being and becoming embedded in an ever-changing relational and contextual field. Issues are reduced to knowledge and knowledge is, in extremis, reduced to information (Bruner, 1990). Art becomes a skill and a skill becomes a simple manual. The Didactics of Love are not only another type of didactics. It is also a radical cultural criticism. A possible pitfall is that we step into the vacuum of deficits as a result of this. If that happens, the Didactics of Love becomes a substitute, a rejection of existing practices, a better alternative, but the underlying thought remains that of scarcity and shortcomings. As a result, omnipotence, coercion and perversion will lie in ambush, but now, as a consequence of the Didactics of Love, as a ‘positive’ normative framework. A reader writes as follows: I suspect that you sometimes sin against your own paradigm. You correctly blame scarcity thinking of generalisation and abstraction at the expense of uniqueness. At the same time, you do this yourself by just lumping trainers and training agencies together. I myself felt a slight irritation now and then during the reading of the material. Where you casually write that trainers with power and perversities, and from the perspective of the dispossessed, thwart social contracts at the expense of individuation, I experience myself as having fought for twenty-five years for the principles that will benefit individuation, knowing that I often do not succeed. And I see other people around me, who are doing the same; I am not alone in this. You say nothing about that. The generalisation disturbs me and I cannot immediately tell you what would be a good alternative. We think that the Didactics of Love should and must be justified on positive grounds. It is not the arguments about perversion, omnipotence or coercion that make the Didactics of Love a successful alternative, indeed, on the contrary. Not doing something, does not automatically shows what could or should be done. Just as appreciation is not created by criticising the criticism. The quality of the Didactics of Love is not a one-sided quality, but is expressed in the relationship. We cannot expect a painter to produce beautiful paintings, if we as spectators are not receptive to them ourselves. We cannot prove that Mahler' s fourth symphony is the most beautiful of all time. ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ Neither can we demand respect, attachment, authority and certainly love, because it would become flattery or political behaviour. With regard to the quality of life, recognition is more important than knowledge. The Didactics of Love too, will need to be recognised for its own value in order to be able to be-come Love. It will undoubtedly fail to achieve that on more than one occasion. ' Everything of value is defenceless'to use a well-known line , by the poet Lucebert. However, the Didactics of Love points at something substantial to
  25. 25. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education daily professional practice. Something that can be regarded as a lost human quality in most professional conduct, interaction and contexts. For those who recognise this, there is simply no way back anymore. Even if it means a struggle lasting twenty-five years, as our reader wrote, it can be regarded as a worthwhile struggle. Finally, we can say that a lot of words have been used to describe what is really quite simple in practice. Love, connectedness, learning as a companion, being a fellow traveller, finding peace and richness within yourself. It really couldn' be any simpler. How t complicated is its expression allowed to be? Another reader pointed out to us that we haven' always chosen simple and accessible accounts in our text. Abstract explanations t inevitably lead to a distancing of an important public that we would dearly like to reach. In this regard too, we have apparently not entirely succeeded in avoiding the pitfalls. Lucky for us, the Didactics of Love do not depend in any way on (our) beautiful, complicated, seductive, repellent, critical or appreciative words. The quality of Love can, in practice, only be appreciated in action, in a relationship with another person. And in that area, it is already being appreciated by many in all its simplicity, in all its richness and to its fullest extent. In coaching, training or education, participants and facilitators no doubt feel whether there is Love. Without the need for words. Because Love is a living experience. That' what s we rely on. Bibliography Aurelius, Marcus (1999). Persoonlijke notities. Amsterdam: Ambo. Baart, A. (2004). Een theorie van de presentie. Utrecht: Lemma. Barnard, (1938). The Functions of the Executive. Harvard University Press. Bettenhausen, K. & Murnigham, J.K. (1985). ‘The emergence of norms in competitive decision making groups’. Administrative Science Quarterly, 30, 350-372. Bion, W.R. (1970). Attention and Interpretation. London: Tavistock Publications. Bouwen, R. (2002). ‘De (her)ontdekking van leren als relationele praktijk’. Opleiding & Ontwikkeling, 15, 3, 30-35. Brown, J.S., Collins, A. & Duguid, P. (1989) ‘Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning’. Educational Researcher, jan-feb, 32-42. Bruner, J.S. (1990). Acts of meaning. Cambridge, MS: Harvard University Press. Buber, M. (1958). I and Thou. (R.G. Smith, Trans.). New York: Scribner. De Weerdt, S., Bouwen, R., Corthouts, F. & Martens, H. (forthcoming). Identity transformation as an intercontextual process. Industry and Higher Education. Fijlstra, R. & Wullings, H. (1996). No-nonsense met een hart. Over bezieling, leiderschap en cultuurmanagement. Schiedam: Scriptum management. Flameling, J. & Van den Nieuwenhof, R. (2005). Wat Woorden Willen, ISVW, http://www.isvw.nl/Woorden.htm Frie, E. (2003). Understanding Experience, psychotherapy and postmodernism London: Rootledge. Heaton, J. (2000). Wittgenstein and Psychoanalysis. Cambridge: Icon Books UK. Heidegger, M. (1930/1978). ‘Vom Wesen der Wahrheit’. In: Wegmarken. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann. Jacques, E. (1955). ‘Social Systems as a Defence Against Persecutory and Depressive
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  27. 27. The didactics of love On deep learning in coaching, training and education Perspective. New York: The Guilford Press. E-mail addresses Rombout van den Nieuwenhof: zeno-organisatieontwikkeling@xs4all.nl Sven de Weerdt: sven@de-raet.be