Learning in Chaos

Recently, Dr Michael Ryan, the Chief Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program provided some practical tips on dealing with the Chaos of Corona in a press brief.

I felt a strong need to share it because it provided some deep insights regarding the variable nature of Learning and decision making. (depending upon the nature of the problem viz. simple, complicated, complex, chaotic, etc.)

Novel emergency situation like a viral pandemic (in its peak) will come under Chaotic domain were nothing is predictable and in control. It require a totally different approach.

He said…


Be fast, have no regrets; If you need to be right before you move, you will never win. Perfection is the enemy of the good when it comes to emergency management.

Speed triumphs perfection. ( Minute 29:45 ⬇️)

The ability to employ different approaches depending upon the nature of the problem requires vivid clarification between these decision domains.

The Cynefin framework created by Dave Snowden to some extend serves the purpose of such a differentiation. It serves as a clarifying model by providing clear difference between 5 decision making contexts; Simple, complicated, complex, chaotic, and disorder.
In an education and learning context it will help teachers and policy makers to devise ideas specific to various learning contexts. Eg. SAT, Retrieval practice, Athletics, Entrepreneurship.

Another way to think is the difference between Structured and unstructured.

Structured environment with clear rules and predictable feedback provisions.(sports, academic test)

Unstructured-complex-novel-environment, were rules and variables are not clear. Lacks feedback or lack of provision for regular feedback.(entrepreneurship, politics, life, corona virus, etc.)

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