The Parable of the Porpoise: A New Paradigm for Learning and Management for Kindle

The Parable of the Porpoise: A New Paradigm for Learning and Management for Kindle
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By Robert Dilts.
Kindle Document.

Anthropologist Gregory Bateson told a story about his observations of the relationship between captive proposes and their human trainers, who rewarded them with fish when they performed certain tricks. After the porpoises had learned a set of tricks, the trainers encouraged to learn new tricks by withholding fish for the behaviors they had already learned. This was very frustrating for the porpoises until they "learned to learn" new tricks.

The parable of the porpoise is relevant for human training because it emphasizes some important principles for leadership and learning, including:
    1. The relevance of both task and relationship in learning.
    2. The relevance and difficulties of learning to learn as a part of effective performance.
    3. The influence of others (the audience) on the activities and relationship between the trainer and learner.
    4. The relevance of different kinds of feedback (the whistle and the fish) with respect to learning.
    5. The fact that effective feedback is related to both information (whistle) and motivation (fish).
    6. Higher level learning involves self-motivated activity on the part of the learner.
    7. Lack of positive feedback can damage the learner-trainer relationship and cause learners to ‘give up’.
A person attempting to learn to be a more effective leader or teacher is a bit like the porpoise in the training tank. He or she must make self-initiated changes in behavior, depending upon the nature of the context, and respond to multiple types of feedback.