My reading about the participatory universe of quantum physics has opened my eyes to the role of relationships within that universe, and especially to the notion that objective reality is a fiction. The physicist, Capra, says…
“Human consciousness plays a crucial role in the process of observation, and in atomic physics, and determines to a large extent the properties of the observed phenomena…My conscious decision about how to observe, say, an electron will determine the electron’s properties to some extent. If I ask it a particle question, it will give me a particle answer: if I ask it a wave question, it will give me a wave answer. In atomic physics the division between mind and matter, between the observer and the observed, can no longer be maintained. The patterns scientists observe are intimately connected with the patterns of their minds; with their concepts, thoughts, and values.”
The reflective practitioner is also a scientist. And what Capra says has profound implications for us in our action research around learning. A well-known example is the research surrounding what’s known as the Pygmalion effect. In one study a teacher was told that the students in her class were under- achieving gifted learners. She worked diligently to uncover the gifts of the children and as you might guess the students achieved higher results than the control group, and higher results than they themselves had previously achieved.
Every teacher has a story in which one individual “saw” a student differently from the way another teacher did, and how the response of that student varied markedly in those different learning contexts.
In Quantum physics believing is seeing. Pursuing Capra’s notion of a participatory universe, with regard to the learning context we see that as teachers, observing and measuring, we are “responsible not only intellectually, but also morally” for what we see.
And that would be true of all observers, whether they are measuring the efficiencies of budgets, the merit of teachers, or the achievements of students. What we believe shapes what we see.
Note: A fascinating read! The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture
By Fritjof Capra Also author of The Tao of Physics