Transformational Learning

In 1977 Ilya Prigogene was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in the field of Thermodynamics. The second law of thermodynamics states when things are left alone in our universe, it will eventually go to disorder and chaos. For example, when a tree falls in the forest, it will eventually rot and decay. Over time it will go into more and more disorder – chaos. Studies show however, that nature eventually actually creates order from the chaos. Prigogene found that as you increase the energy or pressure beyond the capacity of the object’s ability to hold that pressure (threshold), the object begins to vibrate to the point it cannot take it anymore. Then something amazing happens – it evolves into a more complex structure than before.

Let’s go back to the tree: it falls in the forest, is covered by soil and decays. With the pressure of the earth, over time, the tree turns to coal. If pressure is continually added over time, the coal turns to diamond, a structure many times stronger to withstand the pressure. This process is irreversible, totally unpredictable and the outcome is unrecognisable from the original state.

1620690_10152191020197510_124482601_nHumans are subject to stress and problems – they are part of life. Often people go to great lengths to avoid, deny or distract themselves from the pressure. However, allowing yourself the permission to embrace the challenges and the hardships means there is growth and liberation on the other side of the disorder and chaos.

In nature when pressure is added (perturbation) and the organism starts to evolve, it releases energy usually in the form of heat. When pressure is placed on humans, the energy released is in the form of emotions. These are often feelings such as fear, anger, frustration etc. If we do not allow the emotion to release, the growth is stunted and the process of natural evolution is halted.

The old adage what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is true. The phrase, ‘no pain, no gain’ also has meaning here. If you want your students to evolve, you must add pressure within a supportive environment. As teachers, we must acknowledge emotion coming up, as a sign of disorder and chaos occurring and hold the pressure firmly with kindness and understanding for transformation to occur.Celia Lashlie, international best seller and storyteller, talks about holding boundaries tight to allow for lessons to be learned.

Many times while in the emotional state it is challenging to see the lesson to be learned. Trust in this process and it will become clearer in time. Steve Jobs, from Apple, once said, “You cannot connect the dots by looking forward, you can only connect them looking back.” Have you ever noticed whenever you have successfully overcome a major challenge? Other hardships don’t seem so tough anymore. You have transformed and evolved into someone with a higher threshold for stress.

558341_10152249891984316_115963529_nTwentieth century philosopher, Buckminister Fuller, has been quoted as saying, “You will never be given a task that you cannot handle.” He is also quoted as saying, “Your reward in life for learning the lesson is a bigger lesson.”

Embrace ‘perturbation’ in your life and classroom. Be strong enough to hold the boundaries for others and allow the emotion to help transform learning for all.

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Published on Thursday, May 8th, 2014, under Transformational Learning

Karen Tui Boyes is a champion for Life Long Learning across nations, industries and organisations. Winner of the NZ Educator of the Year 2017 and 2014 and the NZ Speaker of the Year award in 2013 & 2019, Karen is a sought after speaker who continually gets rave reviews from audiences around the world. Her dynamic style and highly informative content—which turns the latest educational research into easy-to-implement strategies and techniques — sets her apart from others in her field.

5 Responses to “Transformational Learning”

  1. […] Twentieth Century Philosopher, Buckminster Fuller, said, “Life is full of lessons to be learned. When you have learned one lesson, life will give you a bigger lesson.” Have you noticed that? Once you get through a big challenge, you are given a bigger one to deal with. Challenges and life lessons never get easier. I wrote about this in a previous blog ‘Transformational Learning.’ […]

  2. Mary Staples says:

    The mind is constantly validating patterns against the dynamics and patterns previously experienced in our lives. As we experience new ideas, activities and people we compare with previous patterns considered the ‘norm’ in our brain. Something new is foreign and worthy of an ‘alert to possible danger of change’ until we accept and integrate it so thus creating the new ‘norm’ – hence we grow and develop. This is a continual process and humans being related to the time dimension continue to experience and change through time.
    Should we choose to remain in the same place, refuse to develop ourselves by rising to new experiences and learning then we fail to have regard for time. In our existence time passes and so if we are not entertaining new ideas and experiences then we actually move backwards vs remaining static in the comfort zone as we might imagine. Everything around us is changing yet we may choose to disengage with the result that we actually fall behind.
    Take the case of a prisoner incarcerated for 20+ years or someone living in the bush without technology for extended periods who decides to travel into a populated environment – things will have changed. I have observed certain age groups that start to refuse to change, reject the new or become obstinate for some reason.
    I am not advocating that we accept everything mindlessly – just notice where there is resistance to change.(another discussion).
    SO my point of this is;
    Karen you have embraced challenges and pushed yourself where others have not even considered such challenges. You remain a role model and most importantly a motivated educator, deeply interested in developing the minds and hearts of tomorrow.
    Others jealousy is just that and feeble minds will reveal their true colours when you succeed. Those that truly understand your value cheer you on so take heart.
    You have thrown down challenges to us and those that pick up the baton will emerge with self enlightenment.
    Yesterday someone asked me about how I managed to enter a domain that truly frightened me to the core. I was terrified much the same as walking across a pole suspended 11 metres off the ground. I knew I was likely to freeze yet I also understood that I needed to face and push myself through the terror. It was years before my limbs stopped shaking every time I took the floor. Twenty years on, all I think about now is the audience and how I can help them acquire the skills they wish to learn from me.
    There are too few individuals that will push themselves to develop skills, to go through a mental or physical barrier that demands enormous courage – yet the rewards are available to them.
    Stay true to yourself Karen because no other opinion matters.
    You are real because you get out there and experience life, people and emotions while others remain mute and lifeless in front of a screen.
    Reality is watching emotion flicker across the face(s) in front of you as you mutually experience the warmth of connection and understanding. What a smile is really saying is: ‘I understand and I feel good about our connection’ – that is priceless.

    • Karen Boyes says:

      Thanks Mary – Yes it is the standing still that actually scares me more – it is also an interesting journey when you continue to grow and change and others around you do not … thanks for your comments – I appreciate them 🙂

  3. That word “perturbation” congers up so much fear in many, yet to those who choose to step out of their comfort zone and experience the growth that comes through pushing the boundaries. perturbation becomes more like an old friend, one you know will never let you down no matter how hard or challenging the journey…and how much emotion is released in the process.

    I like your line “Trust in this process and it will become clearer in time”

    Keep your focus Karen. Buckminster Fuller is right – “you will never be given a task that you cannot handle.” and, as you break through, the ripple effect touches many.

  4. […] Following my recent post My world feels like it has been rocked… I have uncovered a link between the accolades and my blog on  Transformational Learning. […]

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