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Living System and Lifelong Learning

Jun 22, 2023 | Daily Trek, Unlearn

A Living System - Radical Trekking - Ayelet Baron

Living systems, as well as lifelong learning, have always existed around us. In fact, we are a living system ourselves. This idea, as timeless as life, may seem new but it embodies the complex dance of growth and change that every living entity undergoes.

Imagine a forest ecosystem. We cannot control it like a machine. We can only introduce changes—like planting new trees or introducing new species—and the system decides whether it will adapt or resist. This concept parallels the transformative process of human learning.

Just as a forest ecosystem reacts and evolves, we, as individuals, also adapt and learn in response to the changes in our environment. For instance, learning to cook a new dish isn’t just about following a recipe. We taste, we adjust, we experience and emerge from the process with new culinary skills, transformed from our initial state.

This journey of learning, much like the journey of a river carving its course, is complex and unpredictable. Yet, it’s not incomprehensible. To truly understand it, we abandon traditional, linear ways of learning. Think of a child learning to ride a bicycle. It’s not a matter of step-by-step instructions, but a dynamic process of trial, error, adjustment, and, eventually, balance and momentum.

In the same vein, learning can’t be forced or strictly planned. Imagine trying to predict the exact result of a creative brainstorming session. It’s nearly impossible because the process is organic and free-flowing, not mechanistic or predictable.

Unlearning and learning are as alive as the cells in our body. A living system is vibrant, evolving processes, not static entities to be controlled. They form a complex web of relationships, much like the intricate networks within a beehive.

As we navigate through these relationships, we nourish them—akin to nurturing a garden. We foster environments that allow them to grow and see ourselves as intertwined parts of this global living network, not isolated units.

Recognizing our part in creating living systems helps strengthen all relationships. This viewpoint, based on a systems view of life, acknowledges the intricate patterns and connections that bind us. Just as a seed evolves into a towering tree, so do we learn, grow, and become more through the creation of living systems that value life more than machines.

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