The Ladder of Understanding

“A great storyteller — whether a journalist or editor or filmmaker or curator — helps people figure out not only what matters in the world, but also why it matters. A great storyteller dances up the ladder of understanding, from information to knowledge to wisdom. Through symbol, metaphor, and association, the storyteller helps us interpret information, integrate it with our existing knowledge, and transmute that into wisdom.”   Brain Pickings. Maria Popova

His parents had moved to the family farm in the hills away from the place Raj was born. The school was a long way off and he had to walk miles to and from school. Other than a boy who met him halfway to the school and returned with him, he had little time for friends. Though forced to be alone during most of his free time, he never felt lonely. The seclusion ended when they moved back to their urban ancestral home five years later. Decades later, when he was recollecting his childhood dreams, he would remember his flying dreams of zipping down the valleys and zooming up over the mountain tops. The other was something very similar to Jacob’s dream of the ladder to the heaven. Born in a Hindu family it was quite unlikely that he had heard or read the story of Jacob’s dream in the Old Testament. What he saw was different too, a very long ladder that stretched and stretched into the vast expanse connecting a blue green earth with a colorful golden sky.

The day he came across Kenneth Boulding’s article on General Systems Theory , he could not sleep. This was the ladder in the dream connecting everything with everything else.

The ladder of understanding was the beginning of the next phase of a search that went on for nine years, juggling the kaleidoscope with collections of pieces of the puzzle hoping for an acceptable pattern to emerge. The day, rather the night, it surfaced was another sleepless one. There was no denying that this was what he was looking for. The validation would come much later.

Facilitation with the framework began in 1990 and the first validation to come across was The Fifth discipline by Peter Senge. All the disciplines were embedded in the framework into a coherent whole.

Facilitation was another challenge. An appropriate methodology had to evolve through practice which involved taking the framework to different contexts, young and old, one to one and in groups, on/offline, schools to industry, nonprofits, religious/secular institutions. The process continues.

This is the story of our storytelling, the dance up and down the levels of the ladder on  the wheel of understanding that takes us on our common journey.

Thank you, Maria. We understand, appreciate. Watch her here in conversation with Rachel Sussman, pointing us to the rationale of the ladder transforming into the wheel of understanding.

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