Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What is your most powerful learning experience?

(Posted in on 14 September 2004)

Hello everyone,

My name is Jennifer Graham and I am based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. For the last few years, I have worked to support community-based fisheries management in Atlantic Canada and internationally. Most recently, I am working with Becky Guieb and partners in the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam on a research project about sustainable livelihoods and community-based natural resource management. As Becky mentioned, we feel the relationships we have and our collective learning experience make our project a learning community. We have found a way to learn together.

Elmer has asked me to play a role in moderating this discussion of learning communities. He suggested I ask a few questions and offer some synthesis throughout.

I think I'd like to know a bit more about who the members of this online group are as people, as learners. Individually, we all find ways to transform our experiences into knowledge and to share those with others. How do we do this?

My question is: Tell us about a meaningful learning experience in your life? What made this such a powerful learning experience?

For myself, I immediately think of a course I took a few years ago at a retreat centre located here in Nova Scotia, called Tatamagouche Centre. The course was about Adult Education Design and the teaching/learning style was experimential learning in which we as participants were responsible for shaping much of the activities, and the facilitators led us through collective reflection. An activity that stuck with me, was quite early in the course when we did an exercise to learn more about our own learning styles. Did we prefer to have information told to us in a clear linear fashion? Did we like to come up with our own interpertation i.e create our own theories. Did we like to do something and then be told about it or did we want all the information before we started?

I learned a lot about what I like and don't like as a learner, but equally important, we were challenged to think of activities that would suit other learning styles. What would please an enthusiastic learner?, a rational thinker? It was very rewarding to hear how grateful people were to have their needs and learning styles met. I learned a lot about the necessity of seeing from another perspective to truly work (and learn) in community.

From this, I think of learning communities as places were we learn to see the world through other eyes so that all may feel welcomed and accepted.

What do you think? Can you share a powerful learning experience and tell us what it has taught you about being part of a learning community?

Jennifer Graham
Nova Scotia, Canada


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