Observation to Innovation

In a session about case teaching and case writing, a participant raised his hand and shared his experience as a lecturer. On answering his question of what kind of drawing his students learnt in the elementary schools, the replies were all similar: two mountains with a rising sun in between, a couple of clouds, a street narrowing towards the mountains, paddy fields and series of telephone poles connected with wires.

He then concluded that the quality of the education was still pretty much in the year of 50s. No improvements.

A few minutes afterwards, I raised my hand. I quoted Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi works in their Knowledge Management book that people learns from both explicit knowledge as well as tacit knowledge.

In learning tacit knowledge the students observe, imitate and practice. So I said that there’s nothing wrong with the education, because imitate and practice are parts of the learning processes.

At this point the lecturer seemingly thought that I have finished with my comment, and that there's nothing new about it. But I haven’t. I then continued by saying that after mastering the knowledge, with rigorous practices, the students eventually need to be liberated. It seemed that the word “liberate” hit a certain nerve in his brain, and his face was a bit friendlier. He said that while he agreed with my point, the observe-imitate-practice-liberate was not a sequential process. To me, however, you can be fully liberated when you really mastered the knowledge and skills, by heart; and this can be achieved better with the observe-imitate-practice sequential process.

The idea of liberating the students in the learning process, within the tacit knowledge context, just came to my mind in that very day. I felt very happy as if I found a precious diamond that came out of the blue. Well, I was definitely not the inventor. Someone did it already long before I was born. Nobody knows.

Liberation will certainly stimulate creative minds, and lead to advancements, from merely tiny improvements to quantum leap innovations.

On the dark sides, it can also ignite destructive forces that may lead to the breakdown of rules, norms, believes, establishments, theories, paradigms, harmony.

But that’s probably why we are all here, rambling on earth, not enjoying our leisure time in heaven, because of the sin committed by our father Adam. He swallowed the apple of knowledge. Learning from our father Adam, we shall probably be as brave as him in facing the consequences of the two faces of knowledge. Besides, as history had showed us, mankind advances through cyclic destructions and re-constructions, till the final doomsday. My only advice, be the one who survives.

, seorang pejalan musiman dan penyuka sejarah. Penduduk Jakarta yang sedang tinggal di Cikarang Utara. Diperbarui: November 11, 2006.

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