Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Learning to Learn

I don't normally like discussing, or blogging, about politics, but the release of the Winograd report and the prime minister's immediate response are too good to pass up. Without wishing to discuss the findings and their implications I wanted to look at the learning process, and how that affects us.
The report was clear. It states:

4. This emphasis on learning lessons not only follows from our conception of the role of a public commission. It also follows from our belief that one of Israeli society's greatest sources of strength is its being a free, open and creative. Together with great achievements, the challenges facing it are existential. To cope with them, Israel must be a learning society - a society which examines its achievements and, in particular, its failures, in order to improve its ability to face the future.

5. Initially we hoped that the appointment of the Commission would serve as an incentive to accelerate learning processes in the relevant systems, so that we could devote our time to study all of the materials in depth, and present the public with a comprehensive picture. However, learning processes have been limited. In some ways an opposite, and worrying, process emerged - a process of 'waiting' for the Commission's Report before energetic and determined action was taken to redress the failures that have been revealed.

6. Therefore we decided to publish initially an Interim Report, focusing on the decisions related to the start of the war. We did this in the hope that the relevant bodies would take urgent action to change and correct all the implications.

In other words, the Winograd report was supposed to be an opportunity to learn. They published the interim report because they felt that their commission was hampering learning, rather than encouraging it. The entire purpose of this interim report is to allow for learning. (And remember that this commission was appointed by the Prime Minister as his advisory committee. They have no legal powers and cannot do anything except advise, which in their view means to facilitate learning).

What was the response of the Prime Minister? How will Olmert learn from the Winograd report?

Olmert said, he would work to implement the report's conclusions. He called a special cabinet session for Wednesday to begin the work, at which he plans to announce the creation of a special task to oversee the report's implementation, including both government officials and external experts.

The government's response to a report from a special task force calling on them to learn is ... another governmental task force to help them learn!!!!

A person is allowed to go on the path that they choose for themselves. If someone refuses to learn, they will find many ways to continue to avoid learning.

How often are we given the chance to learn, from our mistakes, from our successes, from other people. What do we do with that opportunity? Do we learn, and take steps to implement the conclusions that we reach, or do we set up another 'task force' allowing us to continue with business as usual and miss the opportunity for growth and personal development.

In my opinion the current Israeli government is not good for very much (like most of the previous ones), but what we can learn is what happens to someone who doesn't want to learn, who has too much vested interest to wish to make any real changes, to see clearly what fools we make of ourselves if we fail to learn while everyone else can see clearly what we should be doing.

Let's try to learn.

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