Reflective learners - no problem

I spent more time yesterday with Wendy's first question:

- How do you encourage GROUPS of people to develop individual context and process information in a way that is useful and personal? Especially within the limited time / high-pressure context of most "courses"

In my understanding, high pressure overrides reflection. We cannot process the significance of what we are learning when we are stressed out. Our conscious mind is frantically dealing with whatever is on our plate and turning into problems we cannot control. We need answers quickly and assume we cannot slow down to change our questions, reflect on our state of mind or come back to our sense of balance, timing or value.

At first glance, it seems like processing will only occur at retreats "in the woods". Conference participants who go for walks and journal their thoughts in private between sessions will come up with wonderful realizations. I've facilitated some of those and know it works. But it's very costly, inefficient, and elitist. It does not set up routine processing of happenstance "back in the cubicle or behind the oak desk". It's perceived as a "break from the norm" rather than a way to get every day work done more effectively.

However, there are people, myself included, who process continually. We are reflective learners who approach happenstance with questions. As I mentioned previously, we don't expect content to provide what we must come up with ourselves:

  • Providing Intention: What are we questioning and wondering about? Which objective are we pursuing by acquiring this information?
  • Providing Context: How is this information useful to us? In what situation are we going to apply this content to solve our problems, make a difference, or help others succeed at something?
  • Providing Connections: How does this information tie into what we already know, reveal a similar pattern or overlap our current map? What sense emerges from this information by containing it in our overall perspective, predictions and potentials?
  • Providing Meaning: What spin are we putting on this information with our worldview? How are we inserting this information into our idiosyncratic story about who we think we are and how the world works according to us?

When learners show up "ready to reflect", whatever happens in a class or course module is no problem. The experiences are "grist for the mill" and fulfilling to provide whatever is missing. Reflective learners assume any educational offering will be useful at some level, happening for a significant reason and connected to personal questions, explorations and decisions in process.

Perhaps content needs to come at a later stage in the sequential process. Maybe content get encountered at level three in a game -- and levels one and two need to be mastered first. Level one qualifies the learner as capable of processing educational offerings and providing what the new content cannot. Level two qualifies the learner as "ready to reflect" by establishing a sense of curiosity, context and responsibility to bring to the experience. Level three provides the new information that needs to be handled within the context of the reflective learner's processing to arrive at "no problem considering with this at personal levels of experience". Then giving content first is "jumping the gun".

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