21st Century Cornerstone Idea: Tetrahedron Learning

Tetrahedron Learning Image

by R.L. (Rick) Smyre III
President, Communities of the Future

(From Chaos (http://www.bev.net/cotf/newsletter/), A Newsletter of theCommunities of the Future (http://www.bev.net/cotf/), Fall 1997 Vol.1, No. 3)

Prasad Kaipa, the Founder and Director of the Mithya Institute for Learning, is as important to 'learning communities' as Chuck Yager was to jet planes. Chuck broke the sound barrier. Prasad has just broken the 'thought barrier.' Peter Senge introduced five key principles for learning communities. One was the concept of the need to think systemically. But our educational system is based on linear cause and effect thinking and evaluation. Such tools lead to making decisions in either/or terms. What is 'the best' answer? Tell me 'the bottom line?' Debate is the standard way to come to an answer, and any answer is based on a standard.

As a result, we don't have the tools to help us think in interdependent ways---to think systemically. We are not taught to see patterns, shapes, connections, relationships and correlations. Instead we are taught to find the one answer---take 'the' right position, and stick with it.

But if things change constantly, don't we need a way to learn how key ideas, factors, and issues relate to one another. Don't we need a way to understand how to identify cornerstone ideas, find their connections, and generate new ways to think about changing society?

Enter Prasad Kaipa, the 'jet pilot' of thinking. Prasad has given us a new tool to break the barrier of linear thinking. He tells us that beyond linear thinking is 'tetrahedron learning.' And he offers us a process and a product at the same time to learn how to think this way. No longer will we be stuck with the complaint 'but what's the outcome, what good is it to talk when we never do anything?' Sound familiar? That is why Prasad's work is so important. At a time in history when ideas are as, or more important, than actions, Prasad's tetrahedron learning' meets a great need.

In 'tetrahedron learning' a facilitator leads a group to think about and define four key ideas. These cornerstone ideas can be related to the development of a new conceptual framework, the design of an innovative product, or the identification of a shared opinion about a key community issue. Once a group identifies four key ideas, they think how these ideas relate to one another, and what actions will help connect the concepts. Finally, the new system focuses on three outcomes which are supported by the cornerstone ideas and developed by specific actions.

At present, most people in local communities cannot deal with complex relationships, for they were never taught to think, just give answers that were seen as truth. Prasad understands this. His brilliance is to offer a visually tangible product that is the result of any generative dialogue about ideas. It is a cardboard tetrahedron that can be unhooked and flattened in two dimensions, or connected and shaped into three dimensions, or connected and shaped into three dimensions. Prasad thus offers a product of dialogue that can be touched, rotated and seen. People will now be able to 'visualize' a system of ideas. The focus of 'tetrahedron learning' is to provide a tool for 'learning leaders' (teachers of the 21st century) to allow them to redefine educational outcomes from content to systemic connections (thinking). It is a tool to help people learn how to think for themselves.

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You are encouraged to enter a new dimension of learning. Break your own 'thought barrier' and call Prasad Kaipa at (408) 871-0462. Or you can e-mail Prasad Kaipa at: prasad@mithya.com

You can check out more about Communities of the Future at http://www.bev.net/cotf/. You can subscribe to the Chaos newsletter by sending an e-mail to Rick Smyre at: RLSmyre@aol.com.

R.L. (Rick) Smyre III
President, Communities of the Future
1319 Heatherloch Drive, Gastonia, NC 28054

URL: http://www.bev.net/cotf/misc/bio_smyre.html

(704) 864-9196 voice

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