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Locations on the TLC map: What is Learning?

Did you know that one of five locations on the Transformative Learning Communities map is a location marked with the sign ‘What is learning’? 

When many of us stop and really think about it, we catch themselves defining schooling when we are trying to define learning. You know the drill: sage on the stage, curriculum rules with lots of homework, worksheets, facts to memorize, and anxiety about what’s going to be on the test or exam. 

Rote learning, however, is just one of many ways in which learning occurs although it is most prevalent. For meaningful learning to occur, the learner is curious and is guided by a quest-that comes from within.  Observing the way in which young children engage their imaginations as they design their playful adventures reassures that learning literally unfolds from the inside out. It comes naturally from a state of Being, and enthusiasm emerges as a key to the state of wonder and awe.  Regardless of the age of the learner, we have witnessed that this happens in an optimal zone of trust that  opens the pathways to explore, design, and apply. 

Learning how to best become a planetary citizen in this 21st Century is looking different than many of us could have predicted since the COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools to close.  And now parents and some grandparents are faced with how to help their children learn from home. Many fear that they can not do enough to help  their kids keep up with what is expected of them.  And for many college students, not having access to the campus library or student union feels isolating, exasperated by all of the physical distancing. 

The pressure to make the home learning environment like a school is accelerating with each passing week.  Here are a few ideas to shift the mindset to what natural learning actually looks like, that could spark the desire of youth to be engaged in the first place.

  1. What is the context of the assignment? Where does it fit in relation to overall studies?
  2. Why is it important in today’s world?
  3. How does it relate to the interest of the learner?  
  4. How can collaboration occur to deepen the understanding of the lesson?  Facetime or zoom can be a remedy.
  5. Is there an opportunity to design an experiential application?
  6. What conversations could be generated related to the topic at hand?

These are just a few inquiries to guide towards the best learning strategies which happen in relationships. It is first person which is the learner’s perspective, and then also the 2nd person-sharing ideas with another; and also the 3rd person which addresses the content that is being offered. All 3 integrate to deepen the learning for meaning.

In this process, an internal flame is nourished: self-authored learning flourishes in an intentional community of co-learners- in person and online.

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