Our Remarkable Instrument

Section One:

One of the articles in The Way Of Learning (IC#6)
Originally published in Summer 1984 on page 3
Copyright (c)1984, 1997 by Context Institute

What’s exciting about
the brain revolution
is that the new methods
really work.

Mel Kashansky

LEARNING is a human necessity. It is both our blessing and our curse that we don’t come into the world all fully pre-programed. This gives us the potential and the flexibility to become beautiful and remarkable beings, yet it also makes us utterly dependent on what we are able to learn. We have no instinctive reservoir to fall back on, and no one of us has any guarantee that we will acquire even the basic skills needed to cope with life, much less those needed to flourish.

Learning is also a cultural necessity. A culture could well be described as a pattern of learned behavior and knowledge shared by a group of people. A culture can continue only through being learned by its new members (usually children), and it can grow only by extending its learning.

Understanding learning is thus fundamental to the basic question at the heart of IN CONTEXT – what is a humane sustainable culture and how can we develop such a culture?

In this issue, we approach the question of learning from two major directions – looking at the brain/mind system that does the learning (in this section) and looking at the cultural institutions we use to support the learning process (next section). That makes it all sound very organized and straightforward, but don’t be misled, for the Way Of Learning is full of surprises.