Image via WikipediaSinterklaas time again in the Netherlands! Even though my children are getting bigger and we don't go to the intocht by boat, I enjoy this period quite a lot.
My youngest daughter is eight years old. At this age, you are not supposed to believe in Sinterklaas, hundreds of years old, coming by boat from Spain and bringing all the presents. At school, the children are not invited to the Sinterklaas celebration, but have a new type of celebration where you draw lots (lootjes trekken). You buy a present, make something nice and write a poem for that person.
My family is surprised though, that my daughter still believes in Sinterklaas bringing the presents. An intelligent girl, how come she doesn't see that the beard is not real? That the presents in her shoe are not brought by 'zwarte piet' in the night?
I think this is an example of double loop learning. Single loop learning involves the detection and correction of error. You want to do something and learn how to do it. Double loop learning, however, in contrast, involves questioning the role of the framing and learning systems. In other words, single loop learning takes place within the framework of existing belief system, double loop learning questions the belief system. It takes a lot more for double loop learning to occur.
My daughter has always been told, by friends, family and the media that Sinterklaas exists. She has seen him arrive by boat. She has seen the presents he brings. This has become part of her belief system. Even though there is now evidence against this belief: friends telling her he doesn't exist, buying your own presents for friends, the belief is so firm that it will take more to change this belief. Probably if I'll tell her that he doesn't exist... But let's wait another year, because it is a lot of fun to hide the presents and surprise them!