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Is Momentum Learning the Cause of Poor Retention?

On Education and Learning



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Have you ever thought what you were being asked to learn was stupid, and when you complained, you were simply told, it was a required part of the curriculum? So who makes these "curricula" anyway? And why do we have to learn this stuff? For that matter, why can't what we learn be made more interesting? Does it have to be so boring at times? Is this What Kills the Love of Learning? We're about to see, in this chapter, Learner's Block - the Mind at a Dead Stop.

Four States of Learning with a Dead Stop

Chapter Eight

Is Momentum Learning the Problem?

A core ideal in Emergence Personality Theory is explain human nature while at the same time aspiring to blamelessness. Anyone reading what I've written in the past seven chapters though could easily interpret what I've been saying as blaming. Whom might they see me blaming? Teachers who engage in Momentum Learning practices, for one thing. Is this true though? Do I blame these teachers for our children's inabilities to retain most of what they get taught?

In a word, no. "Momentum Learning" is not the cause of our problems with retention. What is then? As always, rarely does a problem lie with what we can see. Especially in things regarding human nature. Rather, the problems lie with what "we cannot see" and in this case, what we can see is what causes poor retention.

So what is it about poor learning retention we cannot see? It seems we cannot see the difference between Emergent Learning and Momentum Learning. At least, not without making this difference our only focus.

The inability to see this difference, then, is the actual problem. We have a blindness built into our nature which prevents us from seeing the difference between Emergent Learning and Momentum Learning. Because of this blindness, we over value Momentum Learning.

Please note how I've just described the problem; as something which our nature prevents us from seeing. Know I chose these words deliberately. Why? To make a distinction between the things we cannot normally see, and those we normally can see but have become unable to see. What am I saying? I'm saying there is a great difference between the things we are naturally blind to (like God, holes, and perfect love) and the things which our wounds blind us to (like the beauty in algebra, or in English grammar.)

The point is, Momentum Learning is neither an injury nor our fault. Nor is our natural inability to discern it from emergent learning our fault. So where does this leave us?

It leaves us with a responsibility. In other words, while this blindness is natural and thus, not our fault, we, as human beings, are still responsible for emerging from this blindness, natural or not. Especially when ignoring it harms our children, whom we are responsible to teach.

How, then, can we begin to heal this blindness in ourselves? We can begin to heal it by personally exploring our Inner Layer experiences of Momentum Learning. In other words, we can begin this journey, as we begin all healing journeys, by further defining what we personally cannot see. Or as we Emergence Practitioners say, "by drawing the lines around the hole." Only then, when we have defined "what is missing," can we hope to discover the good which lies within Momentum Learning.

Can this be true though? Can there be good in thinking you have learned something only to find out you never actually learned it? The answer? Without Momentum Learning, we would have no Emergent Learning. Momentum Learning leads to emergent learning. This is the "good" in Momentum Learning.

Seeing the Good in Things Which Do Not Last

Now go slow. What I've just said, regarding the good in Momentum Learning, is counter intuitive. Why? Because we are programmed, as humans, to value "things which last" more than "things which do not last." And while everything we experience tells us this idea is untrue, we still believe it. Why? Because we believe that if we try hard enough, we will create lasting good, in everything from our romantic relationships and talks with our children to our expensive, washing-machine purchases and our retirement accounts.

Does the good in these things last? Ever? For the most part? No. It doesn't. Thus, we need to keep recreating it.

So why do we believe this good should last then? Because the good in Momentum Learning occasionally does seem to last.

What we don't seem to notice though, is that when it does last, there are only two reasons why it lasts. Either it lasts because something has emerged in us (permanent good), or it lasts because we've kept the momentum going (renewable good).

For example, if you can remember the first moment in which you realized you were actually riding a bike, you know this thrill is permanently good. Just as the cliche infers then, this knowledge will last forever. But if you begin a fitness plan or serious diet and a year later, you are still enjoying a success, then I bow to you. Seriously. Why? Because you are in the minority of us humans. You have put in enough Tony Robbins type personal effort to keep the momentum going. At least, up to now, anyway.

What is sad though, is, no matter how strong your resolve, things carried by momentum always lose their charm at some point. We simply do not have the will power we'd need to "keep feeling good" while we do these things.

In other words, while the outcomes of will powered, momentum-based efforts can feel remarkably good for a long, long time, the processes themselves can, rather quickly, come to feel very, very old. And very, very boring. And this is no one's fault. This is just the nature of things which are based on Momentum Learning.

Contrast this to things which feel permanently good. For instance, the realizations I had eleven years ago, about the nature of wounds, emerged in me once. I have never had to renew them. This is why more than ten years later, these same ideas feel as fresh as ever. In fact, I can literally still picture the moments in which these ideas emerged, and I still, almost daily, by extension, gain new insights, each time I look.

On the other hand, some times I find it very hard to know where to start my my next chapter. When this happens, I know I'll have to push myself in order to even begin, this despite the fact that I have had many emergences in and around the beauty in writing, including that I absolutely love to write.

The Need for "Jump Starts"

How can this be though? Doesn't what I've just said contradict my point? What I mean is, if I've had the love of writing a column emerge in me, shouldn't this love last? In truth, it has. I still love writing, including writing columns.

So why then must I push myself to do something I still love? Herein is focus and point of this whole chapter. The idea of pushing ourselves. You see, "pushing ourselves" is just another way to refer to those times wherein we have lost our momentum. And if we can't even find a place to start, then we have lost so much momentum that we've come to a dead stop and need to jump start ourselves.

Have you ever had to happen? Most people have. For instance, we jump start kids who are reluctant to go to camp (and can't see how going will be any fun). How? We send them to camp anyway. All the while hoping they'll gain enough momentum to keep them there until they can see the good in being there.

We also jump start ten year olds who have never seen the value in money. How? By having them open their first savings accounts and then, by encouraging them to look for the good in saving.

We jump start ourselves a lot too. For instance, we jump start ourselves each time we join a momentum-based, "finding the good in something," group. Here, examples would be joining a gym or taking an Adult Ed class or attending AA, if you're an alcoholic.

Obviously the good we are looking for here lies in how we feel better when we do these kinds of things. For instance, we all feel better when we feel physically fit. And we all feel better when we stimulate our minds. And if you're an alcoholic, you certainly feel better when you live life sober. Of this, I can say with certainty, being an alcoholic myself.

My point is, we all need to jump start ourselves at times. Even in and around things which have emerged in us.

We also know that doing these kinds of things can result in feeling good. But only if you can keep doing them. And only if you can admit to yourself that you need to keep doing them in order to keep feeling good.

What this means is, we all get good feelings from doing these things. But we get even more good feelings, when we admit to ourselves, that the majority of the good we feel from doing these things lasts only as long as we continue to create momentum.

So, quit the gym, and you'll lose interest. Quit AA, and you might just drink. Quit the Adult Ed class, and you may feel like a loser.

Where do these good feelings go when we stop? The answer lies in knowing where these good feelings come from in the first place. In truth, they do not come from what we assume they come from; from actually doing these specific things. Rather, we feel good whenever we create enough momentum to temporarily rise above what are, for us, our personal limitations.

Here, then, is a very important thing to know about momentum-based activities. The good we feel from doing them comes entirely from how we feel whenever we rise above what we perceive to be our personal limitations. This is why it ends when the momentum ends.

And the good we feel from what we accomplish? Where does it go? Well ask yourself this. Do you still feel good from having done last years diet? The one which you lost interest in six months later?

How about your academic accomplishments? Do you still feel good for having graduated school? Or has this accomplishment faded into the details of your life?

In truth, we all feel good about momentum based activities, but only during the times wherein we actually feel the momentum. Thus, even if we continue to do the particular activity, unless we feel the momentum, we cease to feel the good.

"Permanently Good" Feelings

What about the permanent kind of good feelings then? What is different about them?

What is different is, the good we feel from doing these kinds of things comes from the things themselves, and not just from the momentum. Thus, we, by nature, are programmed to love emergences. And just in case this word does not ring any bells, allow me to remind you of what it means. The word "emergences" is simply another way to refer to experiences wherein we fall in love with people, places, ideas and things. Permanently, and forever.

So what kinds of things do we need to do in order to have these kinds of experiences? My answer may surprise you. My answer? The very same kinds of things we do to create momentum.

Thus joining a gym, taking an Adult Ed class, or attending AA meetings may lead you not only to the temporary good feelings we feel whenever we create momentum. They may also lead you to feel the permanent kind of good feelings. If, of course, something new emerges in you.

For instance, years ago, I remember watching gymnasts perform in a gym. While I watched, I felt strong urges to learn to do what they were doing. I literally felt momentum build in me while I watched.

Of course, within hours, my desire to be a gymnast faded, as the momentum of what I saw faded. Even so, watching them perform permanently affected my appreciation for what they do. I literally was amazed by what I saw, and in that experience, learned to see the beauty in what they do. To wit, to this day, I love watching gymnastics.

I also took an Adult Ed class years ago, a class on treating alcoholism. During the class, I was required to read a book by Jacqueline Small titled, "Becoming Naturally Therapeutic." In it, she wrote, "You may never have thought of yourself as a therapist ... " I still remember how I inspired I felt when I read these words. In truth, they created a momentum in me. A momentum which lasted for the entire length of that class.

And she was right. Each of us does have it in us to be therapeutic. However, it was not until years later that I became a therapist, this despite the momentum I felt during that class.

On the other hand, the idea she stated, the we each can be therapeutic, has stayed with me for the rest of my life. In fact, this truth is something I try to teach each and every person I help, and I still see everyone as being potentially therapeutic, from heroes and teachers to old wrinkly grandma's.

And AA? In this case, I have no words for the good I've gained, other than to say, AA created a momentum in me which ultimately led me to become permanently inspired. To repeatedly recite what I heard in meetings? Not at all, actually. Those feelings lasted only while the newness lasted.

So what did AA inspire me to do? It inspired me to make a difference in the world. In fact, to this day, AA's founder, Bill Wilson, remains one of my personal heroes. And someone whom I aspire to be more like, certainly, in the way he affected the whole world.

The Good in Momentum Learning

So, OK. These activities like joining a gym, taking an Adult Ed class, or attending AA meetings can create momentum which temporarily feels good. And doing these things may also lead to the more permanent kind of good feelings we feel when something emerges in us. How do you get this permanent kind of learning to emerge in you though? In the coming chapters, I'll do my best to explain to you the basics of how you can use momentum learning to optimize your chances for having emergences. Starting with summarizing what I've just said.

One, there is a difference we, by nature, cannot normally see, between Learning by Momentum and Learning by Emergence. We can, though, learn to see this difference.

Two, the good feelings we feel during momentum learning come almost entirely from what we feel when we rise above our normal limitations. Thus what we actually accomplish or learn during these events has very little to do with these good feelings.

Three, all emergences are preceded by Momentum Learning. Period. Nothing simply pops out of nothingness. Or "ex nihilo nihil fit" (nothing comes from nothing) as my friend and former priest Al might say. This means while the good we feel when we Learn by Momentum is temporary for the most part, these efforts can lead to the more permanent kinds of good feelings, the good feelings we feel when we have emergences.

Here, then, is where the good in Momentum Learning lies. Momentum Learning puts us in position to have emergences. And for those of you for whom I have created an interest in how this happens, in the next chapter, we're going to take a deeper look at how this works. Including a look at an idea which very much relates to Momentum Learning. The idea of Learner's Block. Hopefully, exploring Learner's Block will create enough momentum in you to provoke a life changing emergence with regard to the kinds of teachers you seek.

Closing Comments

I realize I've introduced quite a few new ideas in this chapter, including that Momentum Learning is but one example of our bias toward permanence as the test for a "good" good. This discovery still amazes me as it seems so obvious that almost all good things in life are temporary. Everything from roses to retirement.

The exception, of course, is when things emerge in us. Thus while all beautiful roses die, the memory of a beautiful rose can be with us forever if this experience emerges in us. Which leads us back to this chapter's theme; how Momentum Learning pushes us toward Emergence Learning.

So what is there to know about this push and how it works? This is the mystery we'll be exploring in the next chapter, the mystery of where the beauty in Momentum Learning lies, along with finding the good in "Dead Stops."

Until next chapter then. I hope you're all well,

Steven


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