On Learning – by Krishnamurti

On Learning – by Krishnamurti

This is an excerpt from http://www.jkrishnamurti.org/


Authority Prevents Learning


We generally learn through study, through books, through experience, or through being instructed. Those are the usual ways of learning. We commit to memory what to do and what not to do, what to think and what not to think, how to feel, how to react. Through experience, through study, through analysis, through probing, through introspective examination, we store up knowledge as memory; and memory then responds to further challenges and demands, from which there is more and more learning. What is learned is committed to memory as knowledge, and that knowledge functions whenever there is a challenge, or whenever we have to do something.Now I think there is a totally different way of learning, and I am going to talk a little bit about it; but to understand it, and to learn in this different way, you must be completely rid of authority; otherwise, you will merely be instructed, and you will repeat what you have heard. That is why it is very important to understand the nature of authority. Authority prevents learning -learning that is not the accumulation of knowledge as memory. Memory always responds in patterns; there is no freedom. A man who is burdened with knowledge, with instructions, who is weighted down by the things he has learned, is never free. He may be most extraordinarily erudite, but his accumulation of knowledge prevents him from being free, and therefore he is incapable of learning. – J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life

Learning Has No Past


Wisdom is something that has to be discovered by each one, and it is not the result of knowledge. Knowledge and wisdom do not go together. Wisdom comes when there is the maturity of self-knowing. Without knowing oneself, order is not possible, and therefore there is no virtue.Now, learning about oneself, and accumulating knowledge about oneself, are two different things. A mind that is acquiring knowledge is never learning. What it is doing is this: It is gathering to itself information, experience as knowledge, and from the background of what it has gathered, it experiences, it learns; and therefore it is never really learning, but always knowing, acquiring.Learning is always in the active present; it has no past. The moment you say to yourself, “I have learned,” it has already become knowledge, and from the background of that knowledge you can accumulate, translate, but you cannot further learn. It is only a mind that is not acquiring, but always learning, it is only such a mind that can understand this whole entity that we call the “me,” the self. I have to know myself, the structure, the nature, the significance of the total entity; but I can’t do that burdened with my previous knowledge, with my previous experience, or with a mind that is conditioned, for then I am not learning, I am merely interpreting, translating, looking with an eye that is already clouded by the past. – J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life

Identity and Self

Correct citation:

Vallazza, O. (2011, October). Identity and self. Published at http://tinyurl.com/3tfjftp LinkedIn Forum on Competence in Intercultural Professions, available at  https://worldconnections.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/identity-and-self/

Hi everyone!

What a great discussion. Thank you for all your comments. I may be late in posting, but I nevertheless would like to add a few lines. Several posts seem to subscribe to the notion that intercultural experiences are by far and foremost a learning process, which occurs at the interface between meaning creation and experience, and develops within a context that is both personal and social. Von Glaserfeld’s (1989) constructivist perspective provides a valuable tool for the understanding of processes of intercultural learning and – I would add – transformation.

This also means that dynamics of intercultural adaptation become embedded in a larger process of intercultural individuation, where the context is made up of the complexity of the many intercultural frameworks crosscultural sojourners find themselves, and where their experience unfolds. I believe that rather than being an either-or choice between juxtaposed cultural systems and perspectives, the personal entanglement with one’s perceived identity is concurrently the result and the means towards transformation.

The vast and diverse arena in which intercultural interactions occur provides powerful stimuli that undoubtedly leave a mark on an intercultural sojourner’s personality and/or identity. There is of course a wide range of  differences found in the levels to which such experiences may be arranged within the context of each person’s cultural, situational, psychological framework. As Mariana pointed out, the A-B-C, affective, behavioural, cognitive dimensions presented in the works of Y.Y. Kim, Colleen Ward, Stephen Bochner, and Adrian Furnham, and Zaharna’ Self-Shock may provide an analytical understanding of the psycological aspects of the experience of intercultural sojourners. In my opinion, however, we also need to consider other aspects that do not necessarily fall into the realm of psychology. Such richness of intercultural relational factors has clearly emerged in this discussion. I am skeptical though, as to whether they can be arranged as a vademecum to be used as a desk reference for everybody coming to grips with the complexity of cross-cultural sojourning.

As pointed out in this discussion, nothing really remains the same, which means that – in a sense – there is no “going back” to a space and time that has meanwhile evolved to a different level of reality. I struggle with these ideas myself, as I am pondering my transcontinental relocation “back” to Europe. It’d be easy to believe that I could just drop my current persona and easily slip back into long-outgrown old clothes. Although the linear simplicity of such possibility makes it appealing, the complexity and ramifications of intercultural exposure make it sound rather naif, all the more so when I reflect on the factual changes in my A-B-C sphere. I would conclude that the powerful effects of our intercultural experience do not simply bring about changes that can be turned on and off at will, but also result in actual transformation, when single components can no longer be understood and lived separately from the complexity of our lives. As suggested by Y.Y. Kim (1994), the notion of permanence – once an Italian, always an Italian – is untenable. In the following excerpt, she emphasizes the evolutionary, in-flux aspect of intercultural identities:

“The evolutionary conception of identity presented in this essay, then, projects a personhood that is profoundly humanistic. It points to a sensible existence in the face of a multitude of divergent cultural identities. Both individuated and universalized, intercultural identity allows for ever-widening circles of self-other definition without diminishing one’s cultural root. The concept of intercultural identity further discourages the obsessive adherence to the rigid categorization of people, exclusive loyalty based on past group affiliations.” (p. 17)

Albeit rooted in a Western approach to individuation, Boulding (p. 206) is confident that “each of us can discover the shape of our own identity along the way, rather than insisting on the one already defined by birth and the scripts prepared by others.” (p.17) Washed over, sometimes overwhelmed by so many cultural stimuli, I believe that intercultural sojourners need to develop a critical awareness of the complex personal and cultural dynamics in their lives. This is of course a life-long learning process that requires all the well-known ingredients of intercultural competence, including tolerance for ambiguity and openness towards personal change and – possibly – transformation.


Boulding, K. (1985). The World as a Total System. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Glasersfeld, E. von (1989). Cognition, construction of knowledge, and teaching.

Synthese 80(1):121–140. Available at http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/EvG/papers/118.pdf.

Kim, Y.Y. (1994). Beyond Cultural Identity Intercultural Communication Studies IV:1 1-24. Available at http://tinyurl.com/64pxrs

Addendum to the post:

Here is an interesting article on new approaches to understanding intercultural identity available on-line at:


I also believe that change happens, In many cases, true transformation occurs, one that may not be understood by simply juxtaposing cultural perspectives. It is a transformation that transcends essentialist views and embraces a new dimension. Third-culture unfolds at the interface of our intercultural experiences and dilemmas, not unlike what TCK’s go through in their continue search for identity and understanding.

I have always been inspired by the following quote by T.S. Elliot:

We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time…..

To me, it epitomizes the realization that the world is constantly evolving, so that upon”coming home” after many years we may see old familiar places under a new light, and experience them as the locus of a new chapter of our earthly adventure.

In Italian, the same quote reaches an even more epic climax:

Non cesseremo mai di cercare
E quando avremo concluso il nostro viaggio
Arriveremo dove siamo partiti
Vedremo i luoghi per la prima volta.

New approaches to intercultural communication

Correct citation:

Vallazza, O. (2011, April). New approaches to intercultural communication. Published at http://tinyurl.com/3f483kd LinkedIn Forum on Competence in Intercultural Professions, available at https://worldconnections.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/new-approaches-to-intercultural-communication/

I hope I am not straying from the main question in this thread by engaging in the conversation with the following comments. It seems to me that some contributors, including myself, feel strongly about the need for new tools for understanding intercultural dynamics. I believe that intercultural trainers may be more restricted than scholars in their scope and choice of theoretical approaches, in that they are called upon to “deliver results.” Such scenario may justify the adoption of a somewhat “rigid” intercultural communication measurement tools that are based on widespread reductionist and essentialist views of cultures. Nevertheless, I believe that much of the classification in use may have been made obsolete by the development of globalism and complex globalization processes, as Bernard Saint-Jacques states in an article of recent publication that he mentioned above. Saint-Jacques, B. (2011). Worldview in Intercultural Communication: A Religio-Cosmological Approach. In L. Samovar, R. Porter, E. McDaniel, (Eds.), Intercultural Communication. A Reader (pp. 45-56). Boston, MA: Wadsworth.

I’d like to use his article as a reference for further discussion, for which I have adapted some of the conclusions about a research carried out in 2010. The full text of the paper is available at http://tinyurl.com/24sfh6m

The preceding posts cover a broad range of topics, including issues of identity, intercultural adaptation, theoretical approaches to intercultural communication, new ways of approaching cultural definitions and categorizations, and how that may change the way cultures are presented and studied. Let me get started.


Bernard writes: “Following several authors, Waldram (2009) argues that the concept of acculturation has outlived whatever usefulness it may have had, and that scholars should focus on the process of enculturation, or culture learning.”

I agree. I believe we need to consider transformative learning approaches as those presented by Mezirow (1991). The language used by Merizow provides a much needed syntax for the needs of current and future Intercultural Communication research and praxis.

I believe that intercultural processes may progress beyond the confinements of mere adaptation to a majority culture and reach “a generative stage in which entirely new forms of culture are creatively produced” (Evanoff, 2001). Mezirow’s (1991) Transformative Learning Theory supports this evolutionary view of multicultural identity formation in that it postulates emancipatory change through individual transformation. His theory confronts and challenges the taken-for-granted norms, leading to a dramatic shift or transformation in the learner’s (intercultural sojourner) way of viewing the world. According to Mezirow, at the core of transformational learning lies individual learners’ ability to construe, validate, and reformulate the meaning of their experience. The emphasis is on ‘perspective transformation’ as a means to promote personal growth and, eventually, the emergence of a new society. In her analysis of transformational learning, Lena Wilhelmson (2002) also concurs that “perspective transformation leads to a revised frame of reference, and a willingness to act on the new perspective”. I believe that such approach would inject new inputs and a fresh perspective into the understanding of intercultural dynamics. Such transformational learning approaches cultural assumptions through cognitive reflection, which would lead “to a dramatic shift or transformation in the learner’s way of viewing the world . . . [by] bringing of one’s assumptions, premises, criteria, and schemata into consciousness and vigorously critiquing them” (Fenwick, 2001). As Bernard Saint-Jacques says in his article, this would be made possible “through questioning, debates, discussions, reflective writing about one single cultural aspect, thus allowing the person to reflect about her or his own perception about one cultural aspect, often linked to other aspects of the culture.”


My approach to intercultural communication concurs with Bernard’s and with Aneas and Sandin’s (2009), who also reject the idea of culture as a “collection of fortuitous traits,” (Par.57) and emphasize the relational, ever-changing character of culture.

The findings of my research indicate that culture is not the sum of specific traditional traits, but the result of relational dynamics. They also show that the lived experience of intercultural sojourners cannot be easily generalized, which would indicate that a mechanistic taxonomy is insufficient to define multicultural identity development processes. In times characterized by a global Diaspora, there is a need for a new way of contracting one’s own cultural identity beyond essentialist limitations and monocultural allegiances.

As in Bernard’s article (“Identity, particularly in the age of globalization, is never a fixed reality, a pre-given identification; it is a dynamic and evolving reality.”), my study also shows that multicultural identity derives from the idea of the self as an ever-changing concept that varies based on the relational context people are in, and develops out of the exploration of multiple meanings. Intercultural identity is therefore in flux (Aneas & Sandin, 2009; Martin & Nakayama, 1999; Peter Adler, 1977; Kim 1994), and changes depending on and through the nature of intercultural relationships. This is particularly important for those who do not clearly fit the mold of a single culture, but instead see themselves as the product of several cultural influences.


With regard to the future of intercultural research, I believe it would be important to break away from unidirectional approaches that focus on an individual’s adaptation to a specific new cultural context but fail to consider relevant transformative processes within the host cultures (Evanoff, 2006). Future research should recognize the complexity of processes of intercultural adaptation by including relationships of “third-culture building” (Casmir, 1999), an approach that considers cultural identity not as the result of “fixed trajectories but in dynamic, interactional, and complex patterns” (Roth, 2003, par. 82).  Such broader dialogical approach could include an investigation of glocal dialogue (Matoba, 2003) as a practical application of intercultural communication. A better understanding of dialogue might in fact help people break out of essentialist cultural mindsets and explore a wider range of possibilities for our global society. In turn, this would also improve opportunities for effective co-operation on many common issues (Evanoff 2001).

My question now is on how we can move closer to a systems-oriented view of intercultural communication and avoid the trap of falling into using established essentialist notions and standardized cultural classification. What are the tools available to us for “making sense” of intercultural dynamics within the complexity of globalization trends? Is Bohm’s idea of Dialogue a viable alternative?

Adler, P. S. (1977). Beyond cultural identity: Reflections upon cultural and multicultural man. In R.W. Brislin (Ed.), Topics in Culture Learning, 2, 23-40 Honolulu, HI: East-West Center. Retrieved on July 7, 2002 at http://www.mediate.com/articles/adler3.cfm.

Aneas, M. A., & Sandín, M. P. (2009). Intercultural and Cross-Cultural Communication Research: Some Reflections about Culture and Qualitative Methods. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 10(1), Art. 51, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0901519 Accessed on Dec.10, 2009 at http://www.qualitativeresearch. net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1251.

Casmir, F. L. (1999). Foundations for the study of intercultural communication based on a third-culture building model. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 23(1), 91-116.

Evanoff, R. (2006). Integration in intercultural ethics. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 30, 421–437.

Evanoff, R. (2001). Discussion Paper on intercultural dialogue and education. UNU – United Nations University Accessed on-line on September 2, 2009 at http://www.unu.edu/dialogue/papers/evanoff-s5.pdf.

Fenwick, T. (2001) “Experiential Learning: A Theoretical Critique from Five Perspectives” Information Series No 385, ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career and Vocational Education now located at the Centre for Education & Training for Employment at Ohio State University, retrieved on June 2, 2009 at http://www.uni-koeln.de/hf/konstrukt/didaktik/situierteslernen/ fenwick1.pdf.

Kim, Y.Y. (1994). Beyond Cultural Identity Intercultural. Communication Studies IV:1 1-24. Retrieved on Dec. 2, 2008 at http://www.trinity.edu/org/ics/ ICS%20Issues/04%20ICS%20IV%201/Microsoft%20Word %20-%20p%20%201%20%20Y.%20Y.pdf.

Martin, J., & Nakayama, T. K. (1999). Thinking dialectically about culture and communication. Communication Theory, 9, 1-25.

Matoba, K. (2003). Glocal Dialogue Transformation through Transcultural

Communication. Paper presented at ENGIME Workshop: Communication Across Cultures in Multicultural Cities 7-8 November 2002, The Hague. Retrieved on Dec.28, 2009 at http://www.idm-diversity.org/files/infothek_matoba_glocaldialogue.pdf

Roth, W-M. (2003). Culture and Identity. Review Essay: Ayan Kaya (2001). “Sicher in Kreuzberg” Constructing Diasporas: Turkish Hip-Hop Youth in Berlin / Carl Ratner (2002). Cultural Psychology: Theory and Method [94 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 4(1), Art. 20, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0301204.

Saint-Jacques, B. (2011). Worldview in Intercultural Communication: A Religio-Cosmological Approach. In L. Samovar, R. Porter, E. McDaniel, (Eds.), Intercultural Communication.  A Reader (pp. 45-56). Boston, MA: Wadsworth.

Vallazza, O. (2010). Processes of nurturing and maintenance of multicultural identity in the 21st century. A qualitative study of the experience of long-term transcultural sojourners. Master thesis. Linköping University, Sweden (91 pages) Available at Linköping University press: http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-59533

Wilhelmson, L. (2002). On the Theory of Transformative Learning. In Bron, A. & Schemmann, M. Bochum (Eds.), Social science theories in adult education research (180-210) Studies in international adult education, v. 3. Muenster: Lit Verlag.

FLIP: synthesizing my learning experience

COURSE: Fostering Learning in Practice

FORUM: Koala

TOPICS: Fenwick, reflections, adult learning, experiential learning, constructivism,

WEEK 10 – Task 2: synthesizing my learning

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1)   What is your case (expressing the learning dimension in your workplace) a case of? (restate)

My learning dimension is the Intercultural Communication dimension.

My hot case clearly shows that in my professional context there is a prevalent lack of consideration for issues related to the intercultural learning dimension. My hot issue prompts me to advocate for the introduction of Intercultural Communication practices into the college educational and work environment.

2) What do you now see as the identity issues that relate to your learning dimension?

I have identified two levels at which identity is negotiated within my professional practice:

At the micro-level, we engage in identity building, i.e. the building of our autobiography, through the construction of a narrative made up of carefully selected episodes. Such narrative is likely to fit into existing discourses of education and actualization.

At the macro-level, we engage in the contextual reality of our professional practice, which may result in having to negotiate our identity and “adjust” it to our workplace environment.

3) What conceptual understandings of adult learning in practice do you feel relate to your learning dimension?

The most appropriate approach cannot really be established a priory.

The following structure develops from a system, non-linear perspective.

I would exclude Lave and Wenger’s participation perspective, as it believes that “the educator’s role is not to develop individuals, but to help them participate meaningfully in the practices they choose to enter.” (Greeno, 1997) (Fenwick, p.36)

I have selected two levels that will be helpful to outline my position.

Micro level:

Constructivist (humanist/progressive)

Macro (global) level:

Constructivist (radical)

Constructivist (transformational, Merizow)

System approach (enactivist perspective)

4) What are the best actions that you feel would move the learning dimension forward? Why would these actions be best? How might these actions be organised as a learning strategy in your workplace?


Support noticing, mindfulness, and reflection activities.

Relational view (Chappell et al.)

By acting at the two levels suggested above, I will be able to raise awareness of the intercultural communication dimension. By acting as a communicator, story maker, and interpreter I will assist learners in the emergence of a new consciousness through processes of transformation.

At present, in my current workplace I can only see room for action at the micro level.

Injecting the intercultural learning dimension into my workplace will require institutional commitment. This will require me to renegotiate my role within the college by promoting my level of “intercultural expertise.” That would require a shift in my role towards a more pro-active and solution-oriented approach.

Firstly, with regards to the students, towards the recognition of the cultural differences embedded in their narratives. That could be done by implementing curricular changes in courses and by explicitly recognizing the intercultural communication competence.

Secondly, with regards to staff/faculty, towards the implementation of appropriate initiatives such as professional development opportunities, aimed at creating and promoting an understanding and awareness of the intercultural communication dimension beyond the make-shift approach currently in place.

Intervention at the macro level remains currently a philosophical exercise, given the education orientations currently in place. It remains to be seen whether changes at the micro level will also open the way to a transformation in attitudes that will acknowledge issues of false consciousness, confessional education, and governmentability. The kind of intercultural shift I am advocating would need to extend way beyond current essentialist views and embrace the challenges presented in a systemic paradigmatic shift.

FLIP: my role as an adult educator

COURSE: Fostering Learning in Practice

FORUM: Koala

TOPICS: Fenwick, reflections, adult learning, experiential learning, constructivism,

WEEK 10 – Task 1: my role as an adult educator

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Task 1

1) Select a quote from this reading that is your favourite or that you find significant for whatever reason

The co-emergence of an entwined understanding:

“The enactivist perspective insists that learning cannot be understood except in terms of co-emergence: each participant’s understandings are entwined with those of other participants, and individual knowledge co-emerges with collective knowledge.” (p. 49)
“The educator’s role might be first, a communicator: assisting participants in naming what is unfolding around them and inside them, continually renaming these changing nuances, and unlocking the tenacious grasp of old categories, restrictive or destructive language that strangles emerging possibilities. Second, the educator as story-maker helps trace and meaningfully record the interactions of the actors and objects in the expanding spaces. Third, the educator as interpreter helps all to make community sense of the patterns emerging among these complex systems and understand their own involvements in these patterns of systems. Naturally, educators must be clear about their own entanglement and interests in the emerging systems of thought and action.” (p. 49)

Think about why you have selected this quote.  Then consider what your insights arising from this process of selection and reflection help you notice about your learning dimension.

There are so many quotes in Fenwick’s paper that would help represent my orientation on adult learning and that would be suitable to address the Intercultural Communication learning dimension outlined in my hot case. I selected a quote on the enactivist perspective as it links my reflections to the broader, global perspective of whole system thinking. That allows me to consider my professional practice as part of a much more complex hologram that relates to the emergence of a new thinking paradigm. Traditional approaches to intercultural understanding have attempted to stereotype cultural traits and perpetuate the Eurocentric, essentialist view of culture. The enactivist perspective allows for ways to transcend such confinements.

How do Fenwick’s comments on the role of the adult educator (identified above) help you to view your role in addressing the learning dimension you have identified?

  • I relate to Fenwick’s quote because it is linked to a new paradigm of learning emerging from a whole system thinking approach. It allows me to transcend the confinements of traditional education and of the established worldview in which our education system is rooted. Acting in a differentiated role of a communicator-story maker-interpreter is really what I like doing as an educator. That entails an investigative, open-ended approach to understanding and learning that is not separate from teaching. The language used in the enactivist perspective is conducive to understanding relations between systems, including the interplay of actors and issues in the education universe.

2) Then reflect on your overall experience in this course. What will you take away with you?

See below under 3)

3) Through this reflection, crystallise a ‘take home’ message. Then describe in one paragraph what prompted this message.

The main value in this course has been the recognition that the vast majority of us learners already engage in their respective professional practices. This implies that, in our daily interaction, the emphasis is more on reflection and effectiveness than on doing research. FLIP has allowed for an open-ended approach to learning, and valued written outcomes that reflect learners’ experience rather than the enumeration of academic scholarly citations. The work group enhanced the processing and reflective phase without turning into the usually debated chore of “writing a group paper.” This course has also showed a conducive and respectful learning environment free of wounding learning drama and has provided a very effective hands-on experience in applied mindfulness and reflection.

I will come away with renewed confidence that “another learning is possible,” paraphrasing the well-known motto of the World Social Forum.

FLIP: Perspectives on adult learning and my learning dimension

COURSE: Fostering Learning in Practice

FORUM: Koala

TOPICS: Fenwick, reflections, adult learning, experiential learning, constructivism,

WEEK 9 – Task 2: Perspectives on adult learning and my learning dimension

Link to blog Link to forum


What insights do you now have about the way you view the learning dimension in your workplace setting?

I am more aware of the established function of the institution, which, in spite of lip service to themes and values found in the contructivist/humanistic perspective, still influences teachers’ and students’ behavior and attitudes towards teaching and learning. These reflections were prompted by my readings on Usher and Edwards, Foucault and Chappell et al. (see my previous post, and my comments below )

What do you feel are the strengths and weaknesses of the selected perspective/s that best ‘fitted’ you in the context of your positioning as a learning practitioner in your workplace?

Since I have engaged in a system, non-linear perspective, I will need to include the major factors in my analysis.

I have selected two levels that will be helpful to outline my position.

Micro level:

  • manages the learning context;
  • promotes dialogue;
  • provides for a conducive and respectful learning environment

At this level I believe in the applicability of the following perspective(s):

Constructivist (humanist/progressive)

Possible strengths:

Learner oriented, geared towards self-realization and growth; mindful of others’ differences; open to dialogue; learning environment based on trust, authenticity, integrity, mutual respect, and patience; scaffholding pedagogy; partial recognition of experiential learning.

Possible weaknesses:

possibly enmeshed with the established institutional structures; focused on adaptation rather than transformation; learning experience may be piloted by educators;

Macro (global) level:

  • Allows for discussion of diverse themes.
  • Awareness and recognition of issues of governmentability (Foucault) , self-subjugation (Chappell et al), and confessional education (Usher and Edwards)
  • Awareness, recognition and critique of social dimensions (radical view and transformation approach (Merizow, p. 13) are suitable to challenge and discuss cultural assumptions)

At this level I believe in the applicability of the following perspective(s):

Constructivist (radical):

Possible strength:

Fostering social awareness and action-oriented learning; mindful of issues of governmentability (Foucault), confessional education (Usher and Edwards) and false consciousness (Chappell et al.); suitable to examine, discuss, and challenge cultural discourses, assumptions, issues of representations and otherization, and personal narratives. A radical orientation could be more effective at uncovering and possibly overcoming issues of oppression, cultural relativism and essentialism, and ultimately addressing the imbalances that are still part of our social and educational models.

Possible weaknesses:

may be difficult to apply to current world view; too theoretical; possibility for culture clashes; difficult to implement given the level of psychological and cultural embeddedness of current learning and teaching paradigms and ensuing social frameworks and discourses.

Constructivist (transformational, Merizow):

Possible strengths:

dialectic, suitable to challenge and discuss cultural assumptions through cognitive reflection (leads “to a dramatic shift or transformation in the learner’s way of viewing the world.” “bringing of one’s assumptions, premises, criteria, and schemata into consciousness and vigorously critiquing them”); (p. 13)

useful for the introduction of learners into a system thinking approach (see macro level)

Possible weaknesses:

Not everyone is interested in shifting perspective; not everyone is interested in or capable of cognitive reflecting; it may feel like a piloted operation;

System approach (enactivist perspective):

Possible strengths:

participation and co-emergence, innovative, forward thinking, global; interdisciplinary; thinking outside the box of current education orientations; empowering; may lead to actual breaks through (The system breaking point sometimes heralds the start of a paradigmatic macroshift, as suggested by Dr. Ervin Laszlo);  “Educators can provide feedback loops to a system as it experiments with different patterns leading out from disequilibrium.” (p.50)

Possible weaknesses:

Not easily understood; requires a lot of reframing of current paradigms and world views;

In what ways do they help you to make sense of how you might approach/ move forward with your learning dimension?

By acting at the two levels suggested above, I will be able to raise awareness of the intercultural communication dimension. By acting as a communicator, story maker, and interpreter I will assist learners in the emergence of a new consciousness through processes of transformation.

FLIP: my position on adult education

COURSE: Fostering Learning in Practice

FORUM: Koala

TOPICS: Fenwick, reflections, adult learning, experiential learning, constructivism,

WEEK 9 – Task 1: my position on adult education

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Task 1

Read the rest of the Fenwick monograph, ensuring that you understand the different perspectives on adult learning that she describes.

Fenwick, T. (2001) “Experiential Learning: A Theoretical Critique from Five Perspectives” Information Series No 385, ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career and Vocational Education now located at the Centre for Education & Training for Employment at Ohio State University, accessed on June 2, 2009 at http://www.uni-koeln.de/hf/konstrukt/didaktik/situierteslernen/fenwick1.pdf

Which of the perspectives described by Fenwick do you feel best ‘captures’ each of the reasons you had identified in Learning Task 1?

REASON 1: Adult education is important to me because it allows people to create an alternative path to personal development and education, and creates an arena for opportunities that would be otherwise restricted to younger learners.

I would exclude Lave and Wenger’s participation perspective, as it believes that “the educator’s role is not to develop individuals, but to help them participate meaningfully in the practices they choose to enter.” (Greeno, 1997) (Fenwick, p.36) I agree with critics of this perspective on that “Relations and practices related to dimensions of race, class, gender, and other cultural/personal complexities, apparently ignored by situative theorists, determine flows of power, which in turn determines different individuals’ ability to participate meaningfully in particular practices of systems.” (p. 38)

Knowles’ perspective seems to better capture reason 1 as it recognizes the following:

  • The educator is a facilitator of learning
  • Past experiences need to be honored, shared, analyzed, linked
  • The learning environment is based on trust, authenticity, integrity, mutual respect, and patience.

The educator does not need to take on a psychoanalytic role, but remains committed to the learners’ progress, self-development and growth, in line with the constructivist perspective.

However, Usher and Edwards criticize the traps of “confessional” education practices that adhere to standardized pedagogical approaches. Therefore, to create real opportunities that would allow learners to rise above currently entrenched patterns of exclusion, oppression and disempowerment (Foucault, p.42) and to escape the danger of governmentability, I would argue in favor of a transformational perspective. Foucault also reminds us that “the notion of individual choice and freedom within such [confessional” education] practices are illusions.” (p. 43)

REASON 2: Adult education is important to me because it also allows for broader, less academic discussion of issues that are important to many.
The most appropriate approach cannot really be established a priory. There are many factors involved, such as age, culture(s), educational goals, learning context, expectations, desire to learn, level of commitment and participations. When I think of a non-performance-driven learning environment, then I favor a transformational approach to adult education. That would also be more suitable to address the intercultural learning dimension; free the discussion from established, stereotypical essentialist views of cultures; and explore and clarify issues of identity, assumptions, otherization, representation through thick description of discourses and personal narratives.

From a more theoretical vantage point, I would also consider introducing learners to the fascinating realm of the ecological/enactivist perspective. In a sense, I feel that as a teacher I tend to appreciate the roles suggested in this approach: as a communicator, a story maker, and an interpreter. They all help learners “to make community sense of the patters emerging among these complex systems.” (p.49) Ultimately, this is the way that I really believe transformation can be enacted. From an intercultural communication perspective, understanding the intertwined dynamics of intercultural communication and cultural diversity is in my opinion more important that the analysis of cultures as detached, unchanging units of human experience.

What do you notice about doing this learning task:

1. Did you find it easy to find a match between your reason and the perspectives presented by Fenwick?

Yes, it has been relatively easy and very interesting to use a newly acquired vocabulary and adjust it to the learning dimension in my hot case and to the context of my professional practice.

2. What was the basis of the decisions you made about where to locate yourself? What part of the reading made you recognise where you ‘fitted’?

As I said before, I do not really think that I have to fit into any given orientation. I posted earlier in the course that I see myself as a “bridge,” which mean that I am interested in different perspectives and have the ability to synthesize and find meaning across disciplines.

For now I would say that the basis for my decision to locate myself in a certain orientation is to be found in my own approach to learning and experiencing, which is anchored to a systemic world view and partly represented in the enactivist perspective.

3. Were you located in more than one perspective?

Yes, I find myself at the intersection of several perspectives. I will analyze this in more detail in a separate post. Being situated across disciplines and paradigms is not unusual for me, as I also happen to believe in a systemic approach to understanding that emphasizes relationships over the individual characteristics of the actors and context separately considered.

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