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We have been evolving our vision and mission over the past ten years. As we have been in that process we have discovered the real essence of emergence. Witnessing nature as she is continually revealing emergence as a guiding principle- we recognize that we cannot help a butterfly emerge from the chrysalis in any way, for it has its own timing. If we try to rush the process, we end up destroying the very thing we are trying to save. And then there are storms that gather regardless. This narrative for our Transformative Learning Community (TLC) has been emerging for the past year.
As with Nature, we are moving into a new season… of great potential….as we formally announce that our relationship with Antioch University is now formalized as of March 2020, the result of a very effective collaborative process since November.
This alignment emerged into a partnership due to shared pedagogy and core guiding values. How was our “start up” able to partner with a University that began in 1852 with Horace Mann as its first president who was a politician, abolitionist and education reformer? Resonating values revealed to us how Antioch holds space for students to unite their passion with purpose, encouraged to take a stand for themselves and what matters most to them. Antioch provides a prominent University online program that provides learner-centered education to empower students with the knowledge and skills to lead meaningful lives and to advance social, economic, and environmental justice. What resonates most of all is the driving intention for students to not only demonstrate the core competencies that are required for career success but to instigate change and have a positive impact on the world.
What a huge relief we felt, for after several months of trying to figure out our best possible scenario for leveraging what we do best, we attracted a university who also is post traditional, and who understands the meaning of a holistic approach to learning- and where we are seen as a reciprocal collaborative partner. Both organizations agree there is much to learn from each other as we traverse the changes needed for 21st century online learning space.
The former GIFTLearning program has now morphed into the Transformative Learning Community Concentration under the Social Science component within the Antioch IMA program. Through the affiliation agreement we were able to bring our faculty along with a transfer process for our learners. There is a plan for our graduates to apply for the Ed.D program and possibly receive credit for their Masters degree toward their terminal degree.
In Western contexts, education as a consumer commodity (termed third-person learning) tends to be the norm, focusing on objective pieces of external, static information needing to be absorbed by the learner. All TLC programs acknowledge three perspectives of relationship: objectivity (third person observations removed from self), subjectivity (first-person meditation and contemplation), intersubjectivity (for example, second-person dialogue). Starting with third person (where most of us are coming from) we move into first-person (self-authored) and second-person (generative collective wisdom). In this way, all TLC offerings integrate first-, second-, and third-person knowing, drawing from an inquiry-based process of wonder, explore, design, apply, within the collective.
Our organization has continued to embody our aspiration to be a leading facilitator in wisdom for learning – awakening potential for the evolution of consciousness. During this process our organization has continued to embody our aspiration to be a leading facilitator in wisdom for learning – awakening potential for the evolution of consciousness. This is the true essence of a vision statement-one that is bigger than life and yet one so compelling that every action we take is fulfilling the destiny of our guiding purpose. Observing our own movement into the uncertainty, we were very sensitive to HOW we were approaching the new weather patterns and WHO we were becoming central to WHAT we would be needing to put in place.
We continuously feel compelled to respond to the current scenarios impacting the domain of education. We believe that learning can be transformative. Many learning environments do not embody that quality, especially when there is an overriding emphasis placed on testing or the pressure to prove that one is good enough to move forward based on a set of artificial standards, moving along on an industrial conveyor belt, known as the traditional model of education. And this framework is so instilled as” IT’S JUST THE WAY IT IS,”especially when challenging the status quo, and even more so when some existing system(s) of the accreditation process is not yet in the realm of post-traditional learning.
Through our years of research and practice we have held true to being the change we want to see, perhaps even being seen as a disrupter. No matter what, our faculty and leaders have aligned with a different view, not only post traditional, but more resonant with an ecological model, emanating from nature herself. Nature is our best teacher, and the more we sensed this the more present we allowed our next steps to ground us. Patiently, we let go of one form, and began exploring options along the way. We trusted something would emerge for our next stage. And now we are witnessing the benefit of trusting this natural process.
Since mid 2019, we began restructuring our Board of Directors for this next stage, along with the painful part of letting go of the way we had held our GIFTLearning. We had to pursue a different approach for strengthening our capacity- focusing on our unique contributions as evidenced with our learners and our alumni. We recognized that our brand promise, one that developed naturally. has shown up in the development of learning communities that our graduates have designed now in several locations around the world: Winnipeg, Sao Paulo, Beijing, Austin, Bali and Germany. Yet, due to a lack of fit with our accreditation progression, we had to suspend business as usual, and our focus began to go deeper within to nurture our learners during this interruption to their learning journey along with our existing faculty. The president of GIFTLearning, Paul Freedman,who had been co-leading during these turbulent times, realized his role would also need to be suspended, and he chose to move back to playing a vital role within our faculty.
Through suspending the view of what was not working in our pursuit to be recognized for our paradigm shifting approach with a low residency Master’s Degree program, and becoming more and more present to who we were BEING through the transition period, and how we were DOING what needed to be done without losing sight of our guiding vision and core values, we were able to keep our organization together through our residency at the Whidbey Institute,and zoom gatherings and sure enough -we were able to attract an aligned partner to affiliate and integrate our unique model-Transformative Learning Community, within their stable and sustainable online Master Degree program.
One of the guiding principles that we hold near and dear is that we choose to become a self-renewing learning community of care. This principle has generated a synergy with our Board, Faculty, and most of all our Learners. This is a “power-with” strategy and it is based on synergy-where two or more parties working together bring about results that would not have occurred if they had worked alone.
Tim Riley is a father of 5 children whom he homeschooled. He is a Financial Planner in Redding, CA with his Partner and spouse Allyne Riley. Tim brings deep roots in Non-profit finances, and in Human Development, to our foundation’s mission. Following ten years in Education and as a Chaplain, Tim’s professional practice for the last 25+ years has been as a Values Based Planner advising non-profit charities, businesses, and individuals. Tim’s talents include a remarkable blend of humanitarian service for youth and children as well as mindfully caring for the financial well-being of others.
His undergraduate degree program (B.S. Secondary Education) was a 4-year experiment in an alternative “Wholistic” program that was co-created by the founding Students/Faculty. Tim later completed a Masters of Divinity while Asst. V.P. for Student Affairs Administration of a private university with 1000+ students, designing “safety net” programs noted decades later in university publications for having empowered first year students to organize their own successful wellness and learner lifestyle.
Tim has been licensed and ordained in traditional and in Post-Modern worldviews. He is an Adjunct Professor of Finance at National University. Tim has been recognized nationally at broker dealer HD Vest as a Top 100 Advisor ten plus years in a row, with licenses in Investment Management (series 6, 7, 63, RIA), Real Estate, Accounting, Insurance, and Income Taxation (EA). His most prized credential is Tim’s young son’s award: “Dad of the Year”.
After thirty years in corporate management, leading large organizations such as Amana Refrigeration and small start-ups such as Breakthrough to Learning, the last three years have been focused on effective early education for children ages 3-11. For background, see our paper on Generative Education at https://bit.ly/2LSAjz2
While active in leadership positions in many community organizations such as United Way, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, and Junior Achievement there has been a focus on education with 27 years on the Coe College Board of Trustees (3 as Chair), 26 years on the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business Board of Advisors, several years on the board of the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa, three years as the Chair of the Board of Advisors at the University of Iowa College of Education and several years on the Kirkwood Community College Foundation Board.
Hakim Dyer is a finance professional with 30 years of experience in international banking, and alternative finance. Today, he is actively engaged in commercial real estate development projects in the New York City metropolitan area and Mid-Atlantic. He is also an avid musician and voice actor with training in experiential learning, hands on-ontological coaching, and curriculum design.
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