Vanishing distinctions

I'm pleased with the progress I've made over the past three days in developing a working prototype of a learning experience that focuses on effects. Yesterday Jay added another facet to the metaphors about free range learning: a ubiquitous chicken house. That sparked a series of inspirations in my mind about vanishing distinctions.

A bit of background first. When we gain a distinction, we become judgmental. We draw a line, tell the difference and separate the one into two irreconcilable halves. When a distinction vanishes, we become non-judgmental. We embrace the paradox, speak of the whole and see both halves as two sides of one coin.

Here are four distinctions that appear to be vanishing now:

Mobile computing is removing the distinctions between being somewhere and being on the move, being inside and outside, or being in a location and being everywhere at once. Thus Jay's ubiquitous hen house.

When we are capability developers on that shared mission, learning is instructing and instructing is learning, or SME's are learning and learners are SME's. The distinctions created by expertise give way to the predominant unknowns about how each person will become capable in their own way, in their own time, with their own sense of purpose, motivation and value.

When we adopt a post modern worldview, content is feedback and feedback is content. Objective data is subjective and subjective impressions are objective data. The clear distinction between fact and interpretation is replaced by the overwhelming variety of different outlooks, frames of reference and personal narratives.

When changes appear cyclical (like the four seasons, phases of the moon, tides, etc), change is stability and stability is change. The more things change the more nothing changes. The unchanging patterns of change replace the evidence of changes.

Thinking cannot handle paradox. Thinking is based on distinctions. Thinking goes into dilemmas, conundrums or circular contradiction when "either/or" becomes "both/and". Paradox can only be grasped holistically -- without thinking. Non-judgmental awareness is a mindless way to see things.

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