When we say “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” emergence is that part that makes it greater.
It is the substance of unique relationship, and is often impossible to predict — what emerges may contain properties that are not found in any of the system’s interacting parts.
Take water for example. There is nothing “watery” about hydrogen or oxygen. Yet when they interact in the right way, water emerges.
We hold many beliefs about learning & development that were instilled through our own experiences being educated. Namely, that both learners and the learning environment must be strictly controlled. Sound familiar?
This belief in control does not prepare us to recognize and adapt to what is emerging in a complex world. It’s no wonder that we struggle like we do out in “the real world” after finishing our schooling.
When learning is designed to embrace emergence, we see that the most important aspects of it happen in real time.
Creating knowledge becomes less about cramming information into short-term memory and more about bringing together diverse perspectives, letting those perspective interact with one another, and positioning ourselves to harvest, reflect and adapt to what emerges.
The results are the flexible, resilient, and agile learners and organizations that this increasingly complex world is demanding.
It becomes less about what you know, and more about how you are learning right now.